Family Car Book
Esther Fisher is a professor of English at the University of Toronto and
a former food critic for The Globe & Mail.
Children’s activity books can be difficult for an adult to assess, so
I enlisted the aid of my 11-year-old granddaughter. She reacted with
mixed feelings to Rainy Day Book, finding some information and games
interesting, but many of the suggestions unstimulating and lacking in
originality: “Good for seven- to ten-year-olds,” she said. On the
other hand, with barely a reservation, she was ecstatic about Family Car
Rainy Day Book is filled with indoor activities, most of which are in
some way associated with rain, and with trivia about wet
weather—different types of rainstorms, rain in different areas of the
world, acid rain. Old news and boring to Sarah; much that was new and
interesting to her grandmother. Handicrafts such as making paper
gliders, boats to float in the sink, plastic-bag parachutes, we both
deemed unoriginal. As Sarah said, “Kids do these things all the
time—there’s nothing to make it interesting just because it’s
raining.” And we agreed that the section on food for children to make
when it’s raining—submarine sandwiches, flavored butters, hot
chocolate—was particularly uninspiring.
Most appealing to both of us were the experiments (for example, one
focusing on insects that enjoy wet weather) and the games and puzzles
(both those to be done alone and those to be done with others).
“They’re fun and cute,” said my advisor.
That’s likely why she enjoyed the Family Car Book so much; it’s
chock full of games, quizzes, riddles, mazes, jokes, and tongue
twisters. There are also activities for particular types of car
trips—driving to school, going shopping, going to the country, and
sitting in traffic jams. In addition, there are limericks and songs,
both old and new, and instructions for hand games (for example, “This
is the church . . .”) and shadow pictures and puppets for driving at
night. “Family Car Book,” said my collaborator, “is great fun all
the way through. One of the best games is ‘Book Title Fun’—you
think of a name for a book and then an author’s name that goes with
it, like Forest Colors by Theresa Green.”
Both books are colorfully and entertainingly illustrated and provide
sketches of how to do and make many of the suggested projects.