Addressed to adults but not beyond experienced young crafty sorts, this gathering of projects offers 75 radically simplified animals, human figures, trees, vehicles, and backdrops—all made from one or just a few pieces of sawn wood finished and decorated in child-friendly ways. After an introduction extolling the Waldorf style of schooling and “open-ended” toys, the author begins with basic advice for selecting and using woods, tools, safe paints, natural dyes, and polishes. She then lays out finishing and ongoing care instructions, and goes on to present projects in five settings, from “Fairytale” (castle, dragon, unicorn, knight, magic wands) to “City” (trees, multipart skyline, train, helicopter). Though occasionally she offers additional procedures or directions, most are so simple that a list of materials, a close-up photo of the finished item, and a template made to be copied, cut out, and traced are all the guidance given or, for that matter, necessary. Children in elementary grades will enjoy helping to decorate these sturdy homemade toys, and members of the diapered set will delight in playing with them. Grades 6-9. --John Peters
About the Author
Erin Freutchel-Dearing is a stay-at-home mom with two young children. Concerns about the safety of her children's toys, as well as the low level of play and imagination they were promoting, led her to purchase a scroll saw on Craigslist and learn to make wooden toys from scratch. Her previous experience with a sewing machine made the transition to the scroll saw effortless. She began selling her creative, colorful, and child-safe toys on Etsy.com. She was chosen from over 2000 applicants to become a part of Etsy's 25-member Second Community Council and represents the areas of toys and woodworking. As Erin put it, "I am evidence that your typical mom with very little familiarity with power tools can learn to make simple, safe, creative, open-ended wooden toys for their children."