My Nana Was a Free Range Kid
Imagine growing up and not having a cell phone, video games and enjoying the wide opened spaces of the outdoors. Let’s go back in time to the 1940’s where Nancy Peek Youngdaul’s grandmother, Nana grew up sharing her stories that will help young children learn just how much fun it is to use your imagination to have fun. Would you pretend to be a ringmaster or lion tamer in a circus? Would you use your experiences at a circus to reenact some of the things that you saw? My Nana was A Free Range Kid allows kids today to join in the fun back them. Did you ever roast marshmallows? Did you ever roast them over an open fire in the woods? What would happen if you did not put the fire out completely? Nana and her brother roasted them and thought that they put out the fire but when you see the pictures of the burning forest you will understand the dangers of matches and fires. The entire forest was destroyed and learned what her mother did about it and what if any consequences they faced. Lessons in fire prevention can easily be taught to children of all ages since many go camping with groups and with families. Playing with matches anywhere is dangerous and this is one example of how to start a discussion. Nana and her brother were unsupervised for the most part and today that might be extremely frowned upon. Nana and her brother had a great deal of freedom but children today like adventure but things are different and wandering away from home is not always acceptable or allowed. Safety is an issue today. Adalee is the grandmother and although she and her brother do get punished for their shenanigans at times, they do not falter and continue on sharing their adventures with the gypsies that come to town, pretending to be one and the pictures along make the story come alive for all readers. Hanging out at the camp of the gypsies and watching them dance around their campfires in the field near her home and how she and her brother had so many adventures together. But, the fire is one that no one in her family talked about or mentioned ever again.
Some bring back memories that my grandmother told about wringer washing machines and how in the story her older sister got her hand caught in the wringer as my grandmother did too. Ouch! Programs that they watched when they were young my grandmother and mother loved The Lone Ranger and Tonto, listening to many shows on the radio and even using those famous close pins to hang laundry. Just like in the story they would hang the close on a large rope clothesline outside but when her family did when it was bad weather with their clothes was priceless. Hanging them on her grandmother’s back porch. Playing around dripping clothes can you imagine doing that now? The illustrations are so colorful created by Victor Guiza that you can feel the time period; the events come to life as if you are reliving them with her Nana and brother today.
Both parents had to work and Nana and her brother were home alone most of the time. They never wore shores and they ran around without them. Pretending outside that they were in a parade with another boy named Kenny you can see in the pictures and it looked like so much fun. Doing other things with Kenny like laying on his back, reading comic books about cowboys and Indians or listening to radio shows. Can you imagine reading, radio and no television or video games and actually enjoying the outdoors? Find out what happens when Nana decided to pretend to be sick and not go to school. You might think twice before you do that too.
Filled with fun filled times, outdoor activities and daring fun filled times, author Nancy Peek Youngdahl reminds all of us how much fun it is to pretend, use our imaginations and I bet so many of you would have liked to be a Free Range-Kid. Told from the point of view and the voice of her Nana, you learn about her past, her grandparents and great-grandmother, whose telling this story from her viewpoint. A fun filled book that takes us back to when kids had fun, places were safe and the world was different. Parents today cannot leave their children or are not supposed to leave them unattended like Nana and her brother, Douglas yet they protected each other and made sure that they were okay. How much trust did her parents have? How much would parents have today? A great teaching tool for all children to learn that there are other ways to spend your time without television, video games, movies and enjoying the outdoors, reading and of course staying safe.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine/MJ Network