Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars: Grandma's Bag of Tricks
by Sharon Lovejoy


Workman, 2009. ISBN 978-0-761-15043-5.
Reviewed by Susan Wittig Albert
Posted on 02/24/2010

Nonfiction: Creative Life; Nonfiction: Nature/Place/Environment; Nonfiction: Elders

If you're a grandma or a mom (or even a nature-loving, kid-daffy grandpa or dad), you're going to be delighted by Sharon Lovejoy's latest book, Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars. It is the ultimate Granny Handbook, designed especially for those of us who are lucky enough to have at least one small child to introduce to life in the kitchen, the backyard, and the garden.

Sharon Lovejoy has always helped us to work with our kids in the garden, from her delightful Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots to Sunflower Houses; Hollyhock Days; and A Blessing of Toads.

But Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars is special, because it is designed as a "manual" for grandmas, and Lovejoy has crammed it full of playful activities that even grannies without green thumbs can manage and kids will absolutely love. To whet your appetite, here is a short sampling from the six chapters: Faerie Mailboxes, Firefly Lanterns, No-Bake Nests, Be a Pumpkin Parent, Potato Volcanoes, and Worm Hotel.

Want more? How about these chapter titles? Preparing Camp Granny (lots of fine ideas, even if you're a long-distance granny). Or The Neighborhood Naturalist, Kids in the Kitchen, the Kitchen Garbage Garden (starts with an activity called "Learning from Leftovers"), Kids in the Garden, and Rainy Day Activities. Each chapter offers recipes (Moon Pizzas, anybody?), games, and activities—each one a learning opportunity for both granny and grandkid. And best of all, the book overflows with color photographs and Lovejoy's delightful drawings of bugs, plants, food toys, and faeries. Every page is a treasure.

In her introduction, Lovejoy notes that being a grandmother is "one of the truest and purest joys" of her life, for her grandchildren have given her the gift of "child-sight": "the ability to stop, hunker down, and see things through their fresh, young eyes and minds." In Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars, Lovejoy shares that gift with her readers, through her playful art and the creative, imaginative activities she suggests. "Grandmotherhood is a state of grace," she says, a place of wonder and child-like delight. Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars will help you and your lucky grandchildren find that place and enjoy it—together.


Sharon Lovejoy is the award-winning author and artist of numerous books, magazine articles, and feature stories. She has been a guest on countless radio and television shows, and lectured throughout the United States. You can learn more about her work and find a full list of her books, awards, and professional affiliations on her website.

Check out our interview with the author of Toad Cottages.

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