Title: Acker Backa Boo
Author: Opal Dunn
Illustrations: Susan Winter
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books
When we began sorting through our books for CROCUS 2010, I picked up this book atleast 10 times and then discarded it before finally settling on it. It wasn't a story book, you see. But I eventually came back to Acker Backa Boo. It's a book on games for children. We've all grown up playing street games and over the years they've all morphed into one amorphous group that you cannot place geographically. For instance growing up in Uttar Pradesh we often played a game called Akkad bakkad bambe bo. I was surprised to find that Acker Backer Soda Cracker is played in Canada, UK and USA. Which came first? It doesn't matter. What does matter is that the games we think were ours have been played out across the world, for years.
The illustrations by Susan Winter are beautifully done. The book is divided into sections like Easy Peasy, Whose Turn?, Hands and Feet mover, Hide and Seek, Catch you, Singing, Ball games and more. Each set takes up a specific issuee, teaching children rhyme, rhythm, teaching them to count, make decisions, learn to play fair and take turns, improve their motor skills, feel the excitement and danger of being almost caught, escaping, catching a ball, and even the art of skipping.
Each game comes with a tidbit of info. For instance, did you know that the game Wolf, Wolf, where are you, came from France? Have you heard of Olika Bolika that is played in Belgium and Germany? What about Tickum Tackum from Iran? There are games from Egypt, Peru, Thailand, Zaire, Chile, Cambodia, Tanzania and much more.
The Brat, Bean and I, have been at the book for some months now and not yet learned all the games. There always seems to be something new and fun to pick up from it, to say nothing of the fact that they learn where it comes from. A section at the back of the book gives you the music for the singing games (if you can read music, that is!).
If you can get your hands on this book, I'd recommend it for the sheer fun of learning new games, jumping around manically and generally having a lot of fun.