Sunday, April 17, 2011

Grandma's Bag of Tricks: Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars by Sharon Lovejoy

Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma's Bag of Tricks

Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma's Bag of Tricks by Sharon Lovejoy

The blurb:
Make leaf rubbings, blow jumbo bubbles, bake Moon Pizzas and Granny-ola in a handmade solar overn, grow a snack pot of radishes and carrots, create a firefly lantern, and on a rainy day make rainsticks.

Illustrated with evocative photographs and the author's watercolors, this magical book shows how to do 130 activities that connect grandmothers and grandchildren through nature -- in the kitchen, the garden, and the art room.

Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma's Bag of Tricks is more than an activity book; it's an interactivity book.  It's about being curious, about being adventurous, about noticing and really seeing things, about instilling a sense of wonder.  Sprinkled throughout are Mrs. Lovejoy's inventive grandparenting ideas that help make every visit a memorable one, filled with simple joys and discoveries that will have grandchildren coming back again and again.


Sharon Lovejoy wrote Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma's Bag of Tricks  for grandparents with a variety of activities and treats to share with their grandchildren.  But this is much more than an activity book; from the suggestions that Lovejoy makes, it is clear that she must have had a wonderful relationship with her own grandmothers and that she's established strong bonds with her own grandchildren.

Lovejoy suggests ways to make your home welcoming, to prepare places that will make young grandchildren feel comfortable and special at the same time.   From making special areas and activity spots to compiling baskets of books and bags for outdoor exploration to all sorts of child friendly recipes, Lovejoy shares her secrets.

The book is separated into "activity sections":
  • Preparing Camp Granny
  • The Neighborhood Naturalist
  • Kids in the Kitchen
  • Kitchen Garbage Garden
  • Kids in the Garden; and
  • Rainy Day Activities
While many of the proposed activities are well suited for families in the suburbs (with access to the outdoors),  they can be adapted for public parks, neighborhood gardens and nearby beaches.  It's a book that grandparents, aunts, uncles,  teachers,  and even parents can use to find ideas and for advice.   The book itself is clearly a labor of love with gorgeous illustrations, carefully selected activities, and even engaging photos of Lovejoy's four grandchildren.    I highly recommend Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma's Bag of Tricks for the activities and advice.   I'll certainly use the suggestions to make my niece feel at home when she visits next month!

For children ages 9-12.
ISBN-10: 0761150439 - Paperback $14.95
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company; Original edition (February 4, 2010), 205 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Sharon Lovejoy is the author and illustrator of the award-winning children's book Sunflower Houses: Inspiration from the Garden as well as Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots and Trowel and Error. She is a children's garden adviser to the American Horticultural Society and speaks at education conferences and gives keynote addresses at national events.  She has four grandchildren and divides her time between California and Maine.  Her website is

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