I think I love watching the imaginary play of children more than any other part of parenting.
When my kids spent time with a certain set of friends, I knew I could count on hours of uninterrupted time as they searched our property for props (usually sticks), choreographed elaborate scenes, and enacted their plan, taking prisoners, escaping, calling in the police. Hours.
Maybe that’s why How to Trap a Zombie, Track a Vampire, and Other Hands-On Activities for Monster Hunters tickled me so much. This Young Wizard’s Handbook is like a map for pretend play. Hunting monsters is nothing new; kids have been doing that for ages. But with this book kids will move beyond “carry a big stick and look ferocious” in their monster tracking efforts.
Mind you, I’m no fan of adults telling kids how to play properly. But with very specific details about a variety of monsters, the book gives kids a chance to elaborate on their play and expand on their creativity. Because really? Do you think kids know that goblins smell like spoiled milk? Or that werewolves are attracted to circular food? With such details, kids can plan exactly the right attack!
How to Trap a Zombie, Track a Vampire, and Other Hands-On Activities for Monster Hunters begins with a section on gathering supplies. There are complete instructions for projects like: How to Improvise a Wand, How to Make a Scroll Case, and How to Make a Monster Hunting Pack. A section on survival offers useful advice on finding food, constructing a shelter, drawing a map, and creating trail signs to help other wizards navigate the monster’s territory.
The final section of the book is my favorite, though. Set up like a field guide to monsters, it offers insight into each monster’s behavior, details about their traits, and specifics on how to trap each type of monster. Most of these pages also include a hands-on project that will help in catching – or distracting – the monster du jour.
“Don’t bother trying to fight a ghost. Instead, get it talking.”
“Goblins are greedy. They will stop in their tracks to pick up anything of value. Throw something at them that appears to be a bag of coins and they will fight among themselves over who can get to the bag first while you make your escape.”
Try “…crying, fake vomiting, and complaining of stomach pains” to disgust an ogre.
Illustrated in full color with diagrams, maps, and original art, this is the sort of book that even reluctant readers will pick up just because it’s fun to look at and the sheer number of activities will keep kids coming back for more.
The publisher provided a review copy of this book.