reviewed by Will Vigar.
Being an adult with no kids, buying a book like ‘The Floor is Lava’ seems an odd choice. I mean, it’s games right? Playing? Adults don’t play! Not true. I love board games and have a wall full of them, but sometimes you just need something that’s not as serious as those colossal, time-devouring German simulations (Power Grid? Never again!). Sometimes a pen, some paper, a sense of fun and a busy imagination is all you need.
Ivan Brett’s The Floor is Lava kept my partner and me incredibly amused during the recent quarantine. When I learned that a second book was due, I had mixed feelings. More games to play is always going to be a good thing but are there that many more games you can play with paper, pencils and odds and sods from around the house? I worried about a lack of variety. Luckily, Bored? Games! is another 101 riotous times.
You don’t need any specialist equipment with the ‘What you’ll need’ lists ranging from ‘Nothing at all’ to ‘A house full of stuff’ for a home-made Marble Run. I always wanted Marble Run as a child but was never allowed to have it. It hadn’t occurred to me that you could make your own with household items. Naturally, I now have marbles on order. Favourites include Nuclear Apocalypse – at which, I’m happy to say, I absolutely pasted my partner, Frog on Log – best played while ever so slightly squiffy, Three-Coin Croquet, and Hackenbush. There’s an embarrassment of riches here.
Some of the games in the book do involve being outside, so social distancing/family group guidelines need to be adhered to. Sadly, this means that the evil potential of ‘Lieutenant Mallard’ has to wait to be exploited until I can be let loose in Sainsbury’s again.
I recall with much fondness ‘Rainy Day Funtime’ books we used to get for Christmas filled with games, songs, stories and so on, they managed to keep us amused during the foul weather expected during summer and Easter holidays. Let us not forget that we had to contend with only three TV channels, most of which only broadcast for half of the day, and the horror of the internet and games consoles not being invented yet.
Books like Bored? Games! would have been (and still should be) seen as a Holy Grail of fun. Despite being a very modern book with modern sensibilities for modern kids, it gives me a full-on nostalgia hit, taking me straight back to my childhood.
One thing I have learned is you should never forget that playing is incredibly important. Forgetting how to is one of the biggest tragedies to befall adults. This book, and its predecessor, leave you with no excuses. Go on! Have some fun!
Oh yeah, the kids’ll love it, too…
Bored? Games! is published by Headline Home and is available now from good bookshops.