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GO PLAY OUTSIDE!

TIPS, TRICKS, AND TALES FROM THE TRAILS

An entertaining, practical, and illuminating manual for enjoying the outdoors with kids.

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A wide-ranging guide explores outdoor adventures with children.

Fresco, a mother of twin girls, opens with the question, “Can parents still be adventurous?” Her answer is an unequivocal and enthusiastic “Yes!” The author’s stories of hitting the trails with children—whether hiking with 2-week-old twins in 40-degree weather; multiday biking, skiing, and rafting excursions; or 13-year-olds completing a lengthy day trek—will convince readers that plenty of time outdoors is the best gift they can give their kids. Clear and pragmatic advice explains how to bring children along safely, be prepared, and have fun. Each of the seven chapters covers a different age—ending with middle schoolers—weaving tips and lessons learned throughout the trip descriptions. Appealing contributions from Fresco’s daughters highlight the kids’ perspectives, while sidebars offer details such as location, distance, weather, and terrain for 22 excursions. More than 60 photographs illustrate the family’s expeditions, and key information is set off in “Tip” boxes. Most of the book takes place in and around the author’s hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska, where temperatures are below-zero Fahrenheit throughout the winter months. Vacations hiking the Grand Canyon and biking around Iceland provide variety and show the joys of being off the tourist-beaten path. (All of the lessons are equally applicable to places with less extreme climates.) The writing is outstanding, with a humorous, down-to-earth vibe. Fresco’s insights about child development and honesty about her own foibles are highly relatable. She doesn’t sugarcoat inconveniences, unpleasantness, parental worries, and the ubiquitous dirt. At the same time, the tales powerfully convey nature’s beauty, family togetherness, delightful moments, and all the ways getting outdoors and meeting challenges help build kids’ determination, confidence, independence, and resilience. The book examines everything the average family might need to know: going on potty breaks in the woods; dealing with bugs and wildlife; planning a trip; selecting gear (new, secondhand, and DIY); packing light; layering clothing; keeping kids warm, dry, fed, and amused; and bringing friends along. Whether readers are planning an ambitious escapade or a simple, local day hike with children, they will find engaging storytelling, ample food for thought, and a wealth of useful information.

An entertaining, practical, and illuminating manual for enjoying the outdoors with kids.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-60223-439-0

Page Count: 210

Publisher: University of Alaska Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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THE BACKYARD BIRD CHRONICLES

An ebullient nature lover’s paean to birds.

A charming bird journey with the bestselling author.

In his introduction to Tan’s “nature journal,” David Allen Sibley, the acclaimed ornithologist, nails the spirit of this book: a “collection of delightfully quirky, thoughtful, and personal observations of birds in sketches and words.” For years, Tan has looked out on her California backyard “paradise”—oaks, periwinkle vines, birch, Japanese maple, fuchsia shrubs—observing more than 60 species of birds, and she fashions her findings into delightful and approachable journal excerpts, accompanied by her gorgeous color sketches. As the entries—“a record of my life”—move along, the author becomes more adept at identifying and capturing them with words and pencils. Her first entry is September 16, 2017: Shortly after putting up hummingbird feeders, one of the tiny, delicate creatures landed on her hand and fed. “We have a relationship,” she writes. “I am in love.” By August 2018, her backyard “has become a menagerie of fledglings…all learning to fly.” Day by day, she has continued to learn more about the birds, their activities, and how she should relate to them; she also admits mistakes when they occur. In December 2018, she was excited to observe a Townsend’s Warbler—“Omigod! It’s looking at me. Displeased expression.” Battling pesky squirrels, Tan deployed Hot Pepper Suet to keep them away, and she deterred crows by hanging a fake one upside down. The author also declared war on outdoor cats when she learned they kill more than 1 billion birds per year. In May 2019, she notes that she spends $250 per month on beetle larvae. In June 2019, she confesses “spending more hours a day staring at birds than writing. How can I not?” Her last entry, on December 15, 2022, celebrates when an eating bird pauses, “looks and acknowledges I am there.”

An ebullient nature lover’s paean to birds.

Pub Date: April 23, 2024

ISBN: 9780593536131

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2024

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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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