Woodworker's Central
Woodworker's Gazette
Gazette Archive 10/31/99

A book review: By Antonio P. Dias

Title: Making Moving Toys

Pippa Howes & Ian Howes

Published by: Sterling Publishing Co. Inc.
387 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016-8810
ISBN - 1855854538
Price Softcover: $19.95 (Canada $29.95 )
128 color pages

This book is not intended for people who always take their woodworking too seriously. It will not teach you new techniques. It will not challenge your skills. This book is, however, well-suited for woodworkers who know young children who will appreciate classic, simple moving toys. If those children are interested in helping to create their own toys, then this book is truly ideal.

The book contains 29 plans (the cover claims 30 but I can't find the last one) for simple-to-make toys, none of which require anything more than a drill and a saw and a couple of which are simply made of paper or papier mache and require no tools. Each project contains a list of required tools and materials and detailed step-by-step instructions with plenty of pictures to help you follow along.

Some of the toys, such as the three variations on paper airplanes, are a bit of a stretch for inclusion in a book such as this and struck me as filler material. Many of the rest of the projects, though, such as the "Climbing Monkey" (a wooden monkey who climbs a cord) and the "Wooden Acrobat" (a wooden dowel acrobat who spins on a high bar) are classic children's toys that are explained in simple, easy-to-follow directions and clear full-color pictures. Full-size templates are provided at the back of the book to make it easy to lay out pieces such as the horses on the "Traditional Carousel."

Younger children may enjoy helping to paint some of these creations as you cut them out and put them together and their older siblings who have shown an interest in woodworking will easily and safely (with proper guidance) be able to follow the directions and help build their own toys.

In summary, this is not the book for the woodworker who is interested in creating heirloom rocking horses and similar "fine" toys. I believe that it is a good and useful book for the woodworker who has children or knows children that enjoy simple wooden toys that do not require a lot of time and effort to construct, particularly if those children would want to take part in the creation of the toys. This book may also be useful for someone involved in children's organizations such as the Cub Scouts, that might spend a weekly meeting having the children build a simple toy or toys as a birthday or Christmas gift for a younger sibling or for sale in a craft fair fundraiser.

Respectfully submitted,

Antonio P. Dias

Editor's Note: Sterling Publishing has graciously donated several books for review which are passed on to our members free of charge. Thank You!

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