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Get Outside! A List of Books to Help Kids (and You) Make the Most of the Rest of Summer

Red-hot alert! If you have kids, if you'd like your kids to get the bleep outdoors, if you aren't a huge fan of the phrase "I'm bored!" on a perfectly beautiful summer's day ... A must-read from our children's librarian columnist, the most awesome Julie Booker. These books might just get you the adult reading time you're craving ...

Ever wonder how to whittle a Whim Diddle? How to measure the humidity using a piece of hair (it lengthens with moisture)? Or maybe your J stroke needs some honing? For those lucky enough to own a cabin in the woods, The Kids Cottage Book is the go-to choice, a veritable manual of up-north ventures by the sister duo Jane Drake and Ann Love. It contains some heavy-duty construction DIY projects: a diving raft with barrels, a flagpole made from a pruned tree, a hammock with handmade grommets, a tree fort complete with intruder alarms, a lean-to and comfy mattress for a sleep-out. But it also inspires clever creations: a scientific snake atlas to record sightings, a wild garden, a cool expedition satchel from old blue jeans. It’s all here, along with rainy day pastimes and recipes for plant fabric dyes. Caution: if you’re trying the fish prints, they get smelly so have a quick seal-tight disposal method.

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Does the great Canadian cottage novel have yet to be written?

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On this Victoria Day long weekend, Canadians will travel to cottage country to mark the unofficial start of summer, although many of us will only make the journey in our minds. We’ll have to be content to imagine a sunset reflected on a still lake, the smoky smell of a bonfire, and the crack of a screen-door slam. And perhaps we could be aided in our journey with the help of a little fiction, but maybe not. Could it really be that, as Globe and Mail reviewer Darryl Whetter has stated, “the great Canadian cottage novel” has yet to be written?

There are certainly candidates for the title. And though it’s not a novel, Sarah Selecky’s story “Throwing Cotton” (from her collection This Cake is for the Party) exactly fits the description of the cottage book that Whetter is calling for: “a work devoted to a friendship- and romance-sundering long weekend away in which two or more couples fight, gossip, shift allegiances and repeatedly contemplate infidelity – if not a boozy orgy”.

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Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing could be loosely termed a cotta …

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