Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

It’s Time to Get Outside!

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Ann Love and Jane Drake in Greenland (Photo Credit: Will Barnett, 2005)

Children’s writing team Jane Drake and Ann Love are the authors of the new book Get Outside: The Kids Guide to Fun in the Great Outdoors (Kids Can Press); illustrated by Heather Collins. You can find Jane and Ann online at their website.

Jane and Ann spoke with Open Book about their new book and some favourite outdoor memories from their childhood.


The unseasonably warm weather is a reminder that come the end of June it will once again be time to say goodbye to homework and school buses, and hello to summer vacation! But what can kids do to fill those summer months? Toronto-born authors Ann Love and Jane Drake have the solution that will get your kids to put down the TV remote, get up off the couch and get outside!

Sisters Ann and Jane have written nearly 30 children’s books together, mostly with an environmental and Canadian focus. Now the writing duo has a new book to add to their already lengthy list of children’s titles: Get Outside: The Kids Guide to Fun in the Great Outdoors (Kids Can Press).

Here’s what the authors had to say about their new book:

As the title suggests, Get Outside is a handbook for kids to tuck under their arm, pack in their suitcase or toss in their backpack. Whether they're going for a few days or a long holiday, Get Outside has all season activities for ages six and up. Without shopping or intense planning, kids can do most activities alone or with a little help. Get Outside encourages imaginative play while connecting to the surroundings. Never be bored again!

As adults, Jane has worked as a research assistant, the director of a child care centre and CANSCAIP’s treasurer, and Ann, who is now a full-time writer, was a teacher librarian. But once upon a time the sisters were just two kids who loved the outdoors.

“We loved spending time knee-deep in a pond, looking for creatures and watching the pecking order as frogs ate flies and herons chased frogs,” the authors said, when asked about their favourite childhood activities. “Staying up late and watching for shooting stars while telling stories was a favourite summer pastime.”

The sisters didn’t have to look very far when coming up with all of the activities in Get Outside. Growing up, Ann was the naturalist in the family, while Jane was the card shark and go-to craft girl.

And the sisters’ repertoire of fun has grown along with their families. “We have six children between us and four grandchildren,” said the authors. “The activities in Get Outside are family-found and tested.”

Ann and Jane wanted their book to have broad appeal so some research was involved in the making of the book, but their families made eager test subjects. Writing the book “meant learning new games and skills and trying them out as a family,” said the authors. “And we've learned that the night sky is a life-long source of wonder and education.”

Get Outside is the culmination of a lifetime of family experience and fun, and working together on it as a family has been a great joy to the authors. “In many ways, Get Outside is a very personal book,” said Ann and Jane.

The book covers all of the seasons and is divided into four categories: Nature Lover, Outdoor Fun and Games, Cozy Inside and Look to the Sky. Kids can learn everything from how to build birdhouses and sundials, to how to play Frisbee golf and spud, or just new ways to explore nature.

Some of the authors’ favourites from the book include the marsh exploration tips in “Swamp Things” and “Night Prowl,” which teaches how to identify the eyeshine of night critters.

In addition, the book provides fun historical and cultural facts about the activities; for example, kids can learn how to play traditional First Nations games or learn how jacks stems from Ancient Greece. With over 75 activites, the possibilities are endless.

“Like any recipe, results will vary and kids will develop their own versions of games. Get Outside will get them going,” said the authors.

Get Outside is now available in stores.

Danielle Webster is the editorial intern for Open Book: Toronto, with a degree in English literature and a certificate in publishing. She works in a bookstore. When Danielle is not reading kids and teen books, she is blogging about them at Bookish Notions.

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