The nice people at Random House sent me another book to review this week. It's not a kid's story book this time - but a compendium of games, aimed at all the family.
365 Everyday Games and Pastimes is written by two brothers, Martin and Simon Toseland. It really does contain 365 games - everything from seasonal specials for Christmas or Halloween to games for long journeys or children's party favourites. The games had to be practical, easy to learn and need a minimum of equipment to be included - so the most complicated thing you require seems to be a cricket bat.
The instructions for each game are pretty clear, though for some of the more complicated ones it would have been useful to have more diagrams. There's some line-drawn illustrations scattered throughout the book, but more would certainly help, and might lift the design, which is on the dull side. In fact, that would be one of my major criticisms of the book - that the retro theme on the cover isn't really followed through in the design and layout of the inside - which is surprising, given the recent success of retro books like The Dangerous Book for Boys.
There's a reasonable index, and the book is well-written - but not exactly compelling reading. A little bit of humour would probably have gone a long way, and maybe enticed people to read on further than they would otherwise have done when searching for a particular game or category. It's very definitely a book for adults too, which is a shame - I think a lot of 10-year-olds would be put off by the dryness of the text.
But, having said all that, it does have an excellent collection of games. We'll certainly use some of the card ones (we can never remember the rules to anything), and give some of the car ones a go.