Book Review - Wild Things: Over 100 Magical Outdoor Adventures:
Going wild at home? Well grab this book and put those wild things to the test!
It is not often that you are presented with a book which is just so utterly captivating. Imaginations can vary so greatly and some believe in magic and others do not! I challenge anyone not to be captivated by the brilliant book that is ‘Wild Things: Over 100 Magical Outdoor Adventures’. Written by Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks and published by Lonely Planet Kids, it really is the ultimate in crafty, natural, clever ideas for all the family. It is a fab book brimming with magical, mythical ideas, using the land, the earth and all the natural things around us to get us crafting!
The lockdown may be easing, but it certainly doesn’t feel we are quite out of the woods yet. Some of us have sent our children back to school and others have chosen not to and others are waiting to see when things might open up. We all have our children to entertain at certain points in the day and that is when ideas can dry up and we ask ourselves, what are we going to do to keep the troops entertained?
We picked up a copy of Wild Things and my three year old daughter was immediately captivated by the fairy chapter. The book is divided up into 8 different chapters – each entitled with a dreamy like subject… dragons, elves and fairies, Mythical Beasts, Mermaids and Giants, Goblins, Trolls…. You get the gist. There really is something for everyone and anyone who has a mind that dreams! We set ourselves the task of creating the Willow Fairy Wings (page 98 for those who want to find this!) As Fiona and Jo write ‘To be accepted by real fairies and elves as a friend, you must use all your wild skills, think small and transform yourself into one of them. But remember, real elves and fairies don’t like plastic and glitter – they prefer all things natural and recycled’. It got the three year old thinking – you could almost see the cogs turning.
We went on a nature hunt – like a bear hunt but far more exciting. In search of willow branches and things to decorate our fairy wings with. Anything goes with this design, which is the glorious bit about it - you can use whatever you find. Our local wood gave us much as did our own garden. The 3 year old had a clear vision – determined to interject as much pink into the wings as possible. I was glad for the bountiful cornflowers that have appeared overnight in our garden and she was relieved that there were pink ones to be found. We also managed to find a couple of sweet peas, borage flowers and leaves galore from the garden. We bound the willow branches together to form the structure and tied together with garden twine but wool will do just as well. We then got to work decorating the wings. The toddler and the dog seemed just as keen to get involved but didn’t quite have the concentration span to last the course. It was time spent together, making. But really time to think and dream and talk about fairies and where they might live and what they might be wearing.
The glorious thing about this book is that you can use it anywhere. You don’t need a garden to go wild and explore. Parks, the beach, forests and woods all present such an incredible opportunity to expand the mind and think creatively.
It also got me thinking about how important the imagination is. According to child psychologist Sally Goddard Blythe, director of The Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology and author of The Genius of Natural Childhood: Secrets of Thriving Children, the importance of imagination in all areas of child development cannot be overstated. “This kind of play allows children to tap into their creativity and really run with it, without any boundaries, in a way that’s very freeing,” she says.
“Put simply, imagination is the ability to create visual images in the mind’s eye, which allows us to explore all sorts of images and ideas without being constrained by the limits of the physical world. This is how children begin to develop problem-solving skills, coming up with new possibilities, new ways of seeing and being, which develop important faculties in critical thinking that will help the child throughout life.”
Wild Things truly allows the child (and the parent) to embrace imaginative play, allowing them to explore both the physical world and the inner self at the same time. It also helps us to recognise our own emotional responses to things, which is a very healthy process. I wonder whether it too could act as a therapy of sorts – we both felt calmer, happier and engaged having used the part of our brains where both imaginative and creativity were at the forefront.
One thing is for sure, this won’t be the end of wild crafting. There is much to do and much to make, that will keep us (all!) entertained. We will just need to wait for that winter snow to arrive, so that we can make the Magical Unicorn Ice Horn, that the 3 year old is so keen on creating!
Wild Things: Over 100 Magical Outdoor Adventures
By Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks
Published by Lonley Planet Kids