This short film of a walnut-eating snake* is what inspired me to Tiger-Mom my children into claymation supremacy. So far that effort hasn’t really blossomed, but once I got my hands on a copy of the filmmakers’ recommended text UNBORED: the Essential Guide to Serious Fun, claymation became a less urgent calling. This book opened my eyes to a parallel universe filled with people doing all kinds of tantalizing, crazy, and fun stuff I’d never considered.
In UNBORED, stop motion animation is the merest whisper of tip of iceberg. Between its Sriracha-red covers are 350+ gorgeous pages, plastered with ideas for playing, building, fixing, creating, and exploring—outdoors and in. Circus tricks, using Foursquare to explore your neighborhood, farting games, the history of mayonnaise, and how to train a grown up to curse without cursing are among the things the kids I know will be investigating immediately. It’s also a fun book to read and just ogle. There are interviews, lists of the best graphic novels and best musical movies, “gross facts about bedrooms,” and even a profile of Dr. Bronner. (It’s much more concise than the label on his famous soap.)
Books in this genre usually break my heart, with their promising covers and meh insides. (Vinegar/baking soda/food dye. Pipe-cleaners/googly eyes/a tissue box. Enough.) I love that this book incorporates the technologies we’re so immersed in, giving us license to play with screens in ways we hadn’t considered, instead of scolding kids (and parents) to unplug and build things with toilet paper tubes. In one of UNOBRED’s more harrowing projects (“High and Low-Tech Pet Search”), we learn to employ a winning combination of signs, walking around/yelling, strategic phone calls, spreadsheets, and Google Maps to locate little Piney. And UNBORED includes traditional childhood favorites as well, like knotting ropes for assorted purposes, and short-sheeting a bed for the sole purpose of irritating someone.
UNBORED is a perfect addition to any creative/kind of creative/wants to be creative family’s life. I’m grateful that I don’t have to navigate another season of cabin fever without it as my guide. As Mark Frauenfelder says in the introduction, “This book is a powerful antidote to those forces that constantly try to shape us into passive consumers of pre-made reality.” Right. What he said. Plus it’s insanely fun.
*(Spoiler alert!) The snake eventually poops.
UNBORED: the Essential Guide to Serious Fun
by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen
2012 by Bloomsbury, $25