Saturday, May 1, 2010

Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars by Sharon Lovejoy - Book Review & Giveaway

Going to my grandparents' farm is always a special treat. Outside we have the chance to experience the wonders of nature with acres and acres to explore, rocks to climb, a winding, mesmerizing creek to splash in and garden full of treats. Inside their home, the kitchen is always full of bustle as grandma whips up sweet rolls, cookies and a rainbow of canned produce and jams.

I have so many wonderful childhood memories of visiting my grandparents and spending summer days watching them and learning their tricks. They grew up in a vastly different time, when TVs and computers did not exist and as children they learned to love nature and its marvels and cherish time together as a family. They made sure to engage their grandchildren in similar experiences. When we visited them we did not sit in front of the TV but instead participated in life-enriching activities, played games and lived in tune with nature.
"When you're sharing nature with a child, you'll find that even a short walk through your backyard will yield a crop of fresh discoveries and questions. Start a tradition of asking, "I wonder what's going on outdoors today?" - Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars by Sharon Lovejoy
Not all grandparents (or parents) live on a farm, but that doesn't mean that they can't also inspire and create a fun-filled environment for children to explore. Sharon Lovejoy's newest book, Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma's Bag of Tricks is a treasure trove of wonderful ideas, crafts, cooking and gardening activities and the perfect resource to use with young children. The whimsical and beautifully illustrated book is divided into several interesting sections:

  • The Neighborhood Naturalist (includes a mudpie recipe for attracting butterflies and instructions to make a moon phase flip book)
  • Kids in the Kitchen (yummy recipes like Summer Berry Soup and how to make a solar oven)
  • Kitchen Garbage Garden (setting up peek-a-boo plants and growing a citrus tree)
  • Kids in the Garden (tips on container gardening, herbs, engraving pumpkins and planting a bale garden)
  • Preparing Camp Granny (inspiring imaginative play and building child friendly places with fairy houses, faerie mailboxes, book baskets and more)
  • Rainy Day Activities (crafting ideas like rain sticks, toad cottages and making a worm hotel)

I'm always on the lookout for books with fun activities, and I highly recommend this one. Parents and others involved in bringing up a child -- do not discount this book! While the book is geared toward grandmothers, the ideas and eco-friendly projects presented by Lovejoy aren't just for grandparents. I accidentally left my copy at the dentist office and the staff members enjoyed browsing through the imaginative book and thought it was simply delightful. In addition to all the fun activities, Lovejoy has sprinkled inspiring quotes and sidebar tips throughout the book. All the photos and illustrations really motivate - I've been pouring over the pages now for a week and can't wait to try out all the activities for all seasons with my kids. We already tried the leaf rubbing craft. Grandma will need to fight me if she wants to pry this book out of my hands!
Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma's Bag of Tricks by Sharon Lovejoy. Workman Publishers (February 2010); ISBN 9780761150435; 205 pages (Book Source: Review copy provided by publisher)

Related links:
Sharon Lovejoy - Author Website
Sharon Lovejoy - Blog

Browse Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars

Sharon Lovejoy is an award-winning author/illustrator and gardening expert and has written several well-received books including Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children and Trowel and Error: Over 700 Tips, Remedies and Shortcuts for the Gardener. She is currently on tour and has recently joined together with Lands' End in promoting their "Way to Grow: Plant a Seed, Make a Difference" initiative. Next weekend, on May 8th she will be in Madison, Wisconsin. Kids can decorate pots, plant sunflowers, learn about the wonder of worms through hands-on exploration and meet Sharon Lovejoy. (She's also signing books). Here are more event details:

Lands' End Way to Grow Event with author Sharon Lovejoy
Saturday, May 8
11 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Lands’ End Shop at Sears in West Towne Mall
53 West Towne Mall
Madison, WI

For a schedule of Sharon Lovejoy's 2010 Book Tour and check to see when she'll visit a location near you, view the following pdf:

Lands' End and Workman Publishers has graciously offered to giveaway a copy of Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars to a Brimful Curiosities reader.

To enter, leave a comment relevant to this post or tell me your favorite gardening or nature activity for kids.
• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US
• Contest ends on Monday, May 10th, 2010 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winner will be chosen at random and sent an email notification.
Three ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 4; please leave a separate comment for each entry):
1st extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
2nd extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.
3rd extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader

Lands' End together with Workman Publishers provided me with a copy of Lovejoy's book and sent me a gift card to thank me for helping promote the Way to Grow initiative. I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Help your favorite school win $2,500 from Lands' End


Bridget R. Wilson said...

I spent a lot of time on my grandparents' farm growing up as well. This book sounds like such fun. Too many children spend all their time on indoor activities like video games. My favorite nature activity is growing flowers from seeds. My favorite to grow is Dwarf French Marigolds that are multi-colored.

Waterlogged said...

We planted a mystery garden this year. My three year old was so over zealous that I could not keep him under control. He was throwing, dumping, and burying seeds all over the garden. We will see what we have when it starts to come up I guess.

Hannah said...

Sounds like an awesome book! Love activities that inspire time outdoors!

Lisa said...

I like looking for bugs and worms with the kids.

Ticia said...

My kids love to make "Mud soup," not pies, soup. Don't ask me why.

AStarrA said...

The book looks like so much fun!! We're planning on starting a veggie garden next weekend :)

Anonymous said...

This book sounds great! I am always looking for fun activities to do with the kids. They learn so much from every experience

Anonymous said...

I subscribe via email

apple blossom said...

Nature scavenger hunts are always a big hit.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

debbie said...

I like showing kids how to start gardening from the beginning. We plant seeds in plastic cups, until they are big enough to plant in the garden. Then the summer is watching them grow, and taking care of them.

Jennifer, A Self-Confessed Foodie said...

I think growing vegetables is great! They learn about plants and then how to use them for food!

I had a vegetable garden when I was little but I'm afraid the carrots never made it - I was always pulling them up to see how big they'd gotten!

jlsemon at gmail dot com

Lisa said...

We love building fairy houses. Wish I could go to the local event.


An Apel a Day said...

My oldest likes to plant and dig up potatoes every year. It's so fun seeing him get into that. This year he was worried about hurting earth worms while he was digging.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Thanks so much for your insightful comments about my book Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars. As you can tell it was written with love for both children and their mentors.

I loved reading your past posts too.

All joys,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

The Five of Us said...

Hello there - I subscribed by email to your blog and happy to do so. To answer your question: We love to hike with our kids. That is our absolute favorite nature activity :-)

abfantom said...

I like planting the garden with my daughter. She loves planting the seeds (peas, corn, radishes, onions etc)

abfantom at yahoo dot com

Elsie said...

We hope to grow pumpkins, and I have an idea to put a name on each growing gourd! It's simple and yet seems a bit of magic for a child!!

I sure would love this book of charm and ideas, nature and learning is the key to a happy life for children of all ages!

Jen said...

We love to go to our camp and enjoy nature in the mountains. Our favorite activities include cooking over the camp fire and a partner scavenger hunt. This looks like a wonderful book.

Creative and Curious Kids!

Jen said...

I follow on twitter and tweeted.

Jen from
Creative and Curious Kids!

Madeline said...

I actually just bought this book and love it! I bought another copy for my mom for mother's day, and I have one more person on my list who I think would enjoy this one!

McKim said...

We love to grow pumpkins and then help the kids carve them at Halloween

Marty said...

My favorite thing to do with my kids is visit the Sierra foothills here in CA with my family. Although our kids are young, they already love visiting the streams, fields, and bridges that are so beautiful around here. Yesterday we went to an old wooden covered bridge for them to clomp around in and they loved it. Just getting out there and seeing them enjoy nature is fun!

poetees at gmail dot com

Linda said...

I got the boys some sunflower seeds they are going to plant to feed the birds and have a contest on who's will grow the tallest.

Julie said...

Although we live in the city, we are fortunate to have Metroparks available which offer all kinds of free nature activities - nature walks, an annual Bug Fest, an annual Fishing Derby, mapling in February/March. Our favorite nature activities usually revolve around some of the Metroparks' activities! This book looks as though it would be a great inspiration for more creative ideas for the bebes and for the grandbebes! Thanks for the chance to win!

jewell330 at aim dot com

Tammy G. said...

I would love to read this book. I teach and live in the country and am always looking for nature "things."

I also follow you on twitter! :) (joynhrt)

Tammy G. said...

Extra entry: I follow you on Twitter. (joynhrt)

abi said...

blogged about your giveaway.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Amy said...

My guy likes to help in the herb garden - by eating the dirt :) Would like some ideas for other activities as he grows up!

Diane said...

I love the joy of picking something and being able to pop it right in your mouth. So wonderful!
estrella8888 at roadrunner dot com

Donna said...

It sounds like a wonderful book. My grand-daughters love to do all outdoor activities whether it is planting seeds or watching stars.

Debbie F said...

I love to garden but my kids are not interested. This sounds like a great book to get them engaged.

dcf_beth at verizon dot net

Mozi Esme said...

I'm drooling over this book! My daughter is very much into hands-on activities right now - that 'discovering the world' phase.

We posted about this giveaway at Winning Readings:

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

My son loves flowers and just got me a hanging basket for Mother's Day. He is anxious to plant our vegetable garden and will want to check it multiple times a day to see if there are any changes. Last year I thought that excitement might wear off, but it never did. Would love to have this activity book.

ebeandebe at gmail dot com

Chip said...

I love watching how excited my kids get watering the plants. Very sweet.

Z-Kids said...

Thanks for the chance to win! Gracie has been trying her hand at growing herbs in a terrarium, and she loves it!

- AZ

Linda Kish said...

We like to go on hikes in the national parks and preserves.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

dpschad said...

We collect the seeds from our flowers at the end of summer. we store them in a brown bag in the basement all winter and when spring comes, the kids and I take them outside and plant the seeds in our flower beds. The little one anxiously wait for the flowers to sprout.

Anonymous said...

Each little one gets to plant and take care of his choice of vegetable in the backyard garden!

Melissa B. said...

My kids helped me plant the garden this year. They planted the beans and cucumbers by themselves.

Katie said...

My favorite gardening activity so far this year has been growing Alfalfa sprouts with my preschoolers... they were amazed!

Unknown said...

we just planted our first vegetable garden - including onions and carrots in repurposed clear 2 liter soda bottles so the kids can see them grow underground

at gmail: a midg rn