For any budding Bear Grylls out there, The Lost Book of Adventure contains everything a child could need to set up camp in assorted wildernesses, complete with that fire-side essential: endless tales of derring-do. If you’re the kind of parent who views even glamping (and please, can retire that word already?) as roughing it, this book might just be your friend. So evocative and detail-drenched are its pages, there’s a chance your mini adventurer will be happy role-playing that expedition down the Rio Jari in the bath or journeying to the ‘Lost Falls’ through the jungle that is their bedroom. Either that, or you can expect requests for the next family holiday to be in Arctic Siberia.
Purporting to be a collection of notebooks and journals written by a mysterious ‘Unknown Adventurer’, it’s actually the work of debut author and illustrator Teddy Keen who, after two years spent toiling in his garden shed, found himself the subject of an eight-publisher auction. Open its handsome hardcovers and you’ll see why: adventures, expedition advice, survival methods – it’s all neatly packed within, and brought alive by annotated drawings.
Broken down into five keys sections, the book covers wild camping, rafts, shelters (and dens and treehouses), exploration, and useful knowledge (from first aid to how to make a ‘wild’ toothbrush). You’ll even find a chapter on ‘Pooing in the Wild’ – which is far from being the most ewwww-inducing (for that, think maggot supper with twig chopsticks).
There’s something inescapably poignant about books like this, out to instil a love of the natural world in kids who look set to inherit a planet that’s perilously hotting up, in which wildernesses are non-existent and biodiversity is threatened by mass extinction. Sure, their teen cousins are woke, but even if they’re experimenting with veganism and waving Climate Strike placards, they’re also togged out in fast-fashion and happy enough to travel by air if their parents are paying. With that in mind, it’s nice to find that at least one of the adventures in this book’s journal sections takes place somewhere that doesn’t require local readers to board a plane: London’s Regent’s Canal.
The Lost Book of Adventure is published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Book (£20). It’s billed as being for 7+ but I reckon a forest-schooler of 5 would still be able to find plenty to engage and inspire.