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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Creating Clever Castles & Cars by Mari Rutz Mitchell

Still looking for the perfect gift for a younger child? Don’t panic. Go pick up a copy of Creating Clever Castles & Cars from Boxes and Other Stuff by Mari Rutz Mitchell and a stack of large boxes from your local U-haul store. Could it get any easier than that? No angry crowds in the toy aisle and no over-shooting your budget by a mile. Trust me. With Creating Clever Castles & Cars and a bunch of empty boxes, you’re all set for months of great fun that will stay in fashion way longer than the latest action figure or Barbie doll.

Do you remember a few times in your life when you gave a child a gift and they’ve been truly delighted—truly delighted with the box that is? Yep, it never fails, before the television and computer take over our children’s brains they can come up with some of the neatest ideas with the simplest things. I thought this time of year was a good time to mention a book which serves as a great reminder of that. As far as I’m concerned I’ve found the ultimate in rainy day, snowy day, creative play books. Or then again, maybe I just get way too attached to my favorite books! ;)

While going on a library treasure hunt with my home schooled son (we do a lot of variations, but it’s basically choosing a shelf in the library and seeing who can find the coolest books), we ran across this very fun book on kid-friendly playscape building. My kids have turned cardboard boxes into all kinds of things over the years but Creating Clever Castles & Cars turned out to be an awesome collection of really neat ideas. It’s designed for children around 3-8 years old, but my 10 year old son and I are having a blast. His little brother is a tad jealous and can’t wait for his turn at the book when he begins home schooling after Christmas. He’s plotting his first structure all ready.

Here’s a picture of my son’s castle. It looks a little sad now, but he made it over a month ago and we’re still using it, so it’s put off building any more creations (I wanted to build the pyramid next but he wants the pirate ship). But we’re still on the look out for boxes and we’ve been dutifully collecting milk jugs for our igloo. Plus, you just never know when the next cold, yucky day will hit when we’ll need to build an ant hill or a submarine. This book is just full of some of the most awesome recycling ideas I’ve ever seen. It was so cool that I had to break down and buy my own copy. I’d been hording the library’s copy for far too long as we drooled and planned.

See, I wasn’t kidding. I’ve found the ultimate gift for just about any young child on your list. What could be better than giving them a book, except giving them a book that gets them thinking, creating, and excited about something other than their top level on the latest video game?

I think I’ll ask the neighbors to save all of their Christmas boxes, too. We’re going to need them. :)

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