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The American Girl's Handy Book: Turn-of-the-Century Classic of Crafts and Activities (Dover Children's Activity Books)

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For good old-fashioned fun, nothing beats this 1887 gem and its illustrated explanations of hobbies and games. Handmade dolls, bookshelf building, and other projects use common household items, encouraging imaginations and creativity.


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For good old-fashioned fun, nothing beats this 1887 gem and its illustrated explanations of hobbies and games. Handmade dolls, bookshelf building, and other projects use common household items, encouraging imaginations and creativity.

30 review for The American Girl's Handy Book: Turn-of-the-Century Classic of Crafts and Activities (Dover Children's Activity Books)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Camille

    I borrowed this interesting book from the library. It provided a fun glimpse into the childhoods of girls long since grown. Some of the ideas were for things I expected to find - china painting or learning to walk with a cup of water balanced on your head. Others, like making a telephone out of cow bladders or weaving a 26 foot lawn tennis net, were more surprising. Reading about the different ways they celebrated the holidays was insightful as well. Some things have really changed, others, not I borrowed this interesting book from the library. It provided a fun glimpse into the childhoods of girls long since grown. Some of the ideas were for things I expected to find - china painting or learning to walk with a cup of water balanced on your head. Others, like making a telephone out of cow bladders or weaving a 26 foot lawn tennis net, were more surprising. Reading about the different ways they celebrated the holidays was insightful as well. Some things have really changed, others, not so much!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Recently bought this book to reread it, but I grew up reading it and doing activities from it. Not only is it a window into a different era, it's just full of brilliant things to do and the history of activities. 5/5 stars Recently bought this book to reread it, but I grew up reading it and doing activities from it. Not only is it a window into a different era, it's just full of brilliant things to do and the history of activities. 5/5 stars

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lola

    This book is full of fun crafts for girls of all ages! I like the Seaside Cottage Decorations and the piano dancers.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Godine Publisher & Black Sparrow Press

    "In the Beard sisters' version, 'the American girl' ranges in age from eight to eighteen. Healthy and spirited, she thinks nothing of taking a ten-mile 'romp' through woods and fields with a group of friends, and collects flowers and leaves for preservation or presentation to friends and relations. Above all, however, the Beards' girl is handy. She can make a hat rack, a screen, or a bookshelf; fashion a macrame hammock or a cornhusk doll; and draw, paint, sculpt, or decorate a room. The America "In the Beard sisters' version, 'the American girl' ranges in age from eight to eighteen. Healthy and spirited, she thinks nothing of taking a ten-mile 'romp' through woods and fields with a group of friends, and collects flowers and leaves for preservation or presentation to friends and relations. Above all, however, the Beards' girl is handy. She can make a hat rack, a screen, or a bookshelf; fashion a macrame hammock or a cornhusk doll; and draw, paint, sculpt, or decorate a room. The American Girls Handy Book, in short, by emphasizing what girls can do, presents a portrait of girlhood that is vigorous, active, and full of possibilities." - From the foreword by Anne M. Boylan

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kristyne

    Fantastic! This book was first written in 1892 and is great on ideas for what to do with kids indoors (we've had a cold winter) and is very amusing as far as cost of items go. (I think it said an easel will cost around a dollar). But the ideas are still true and there's something about making quality stuff yourself that never goes out of style. Not like the watered down craft books written today about making paper plate puppets that any 3 year old can do. Written for girls probably age 8-11 but Fantastic! This book was first written in 1892 and is great on ideas for what to do with kids indoors (we've had a cold winter) and is very amusing as far as cost of items go. (I think it said an easel will cost around a dollar). But the ideas are still true and there's something about making quality stuff yourself that never goes out of style. Not like the watered down craft books written today about making paper plate puppets that any 3 year old can do. Written for girls probably age 8-11 but I use some ideas on my boys age 8-11 without their knowing and they do it too. Who wouldn't like an April Fools Day party, or exercising indoors with a stick? And even I'd like to try my hand at painting with oils again!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Aneesa

    Since this is more of a reference work, I haven't read the entire thing, but I can tell you that it includes: helpful information on such subjects as how to preserve and send flowers in the mail, how to weave a tennis net or hammock, exercises for in or outside, and candy recipes; games, practical jokes, and amusements that I plan to try out, including mad libs, "five minute conversations," and how to celebrate the leap year; historical information on the pagan origins of Christian holidays and Since this is more of a reference work, I haven't read the entire thing, but I can tell you that it includes: helpful information on such subjects as how to preserve and send flowers in the mail, how to weave a tennis net or hammock, exercises for in or outside, and candy recipes; games, practical jokes, and amusements that I plan to try out, including mad libs, "five minute conversations," and how to celebrate the leap year; historical information on the pagan origins of Christian holidays and how they are celebrated around the world; and much inspiration for young women. I would have seriously loved this book as a kid, and the foreword (written 100 years after the book's original publication in 1887) is extremely interesting.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Vonze

    An adorable book that I randomly bought while visiting the Juliette Gordon Low house (founder of the Girl Scouts) in Savannah, GA. It has a lot of old timey projects that could still be enjoyed by crafters, families, and kids today. I could see an elementary school teacher using this for ideas. It has projects for every holiday. I'd really like to check out The American Boy's Handy Book as well. Apparently, Turn-Of-The-Century Girls were obsessed with pressing, arranging, and drying flowers. Whic An adorable book that I randomly bought while visiting the Juliette Gordon Low house (founder of the Girl Scouts) in Savannah, GA. It has a lot of old timey projects that could still be enjoyed by crafters, families, and kids today. I could see an elementary school teacher using this for ideas. It has projects for every holiday. I'd really like to check out The American Boy's Handy Book as well. Apparently, Turn-Of-The-Century Girls were obsessed with pressing, arranging, and drying flowers. Which is great, but today's kids are a little more tough, outdoorsy, and less patient.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book is filled with all kinds of fun ideas & the writing is delightful written in 1887 it is full of beautiful language and entries from the authors like "In the girls handy book which it has been our endeavor to make peculiarly American, we have sought to introduce original and novel ideas, and by their aid to open new avenues of enterprise and enjoyment." I love reading this book This book is filled with all kinds of fun ideas & the writing is delightful written in 1887 it is full of beautiful language and entries from the authors like "In the girls handy book which it has been our endeavor to make peculiarly American, we have sought to introduce original and novel ideas, and by their aid to open new avenues of enterprise and enjoyment." I love reading this book

  9. 4 out of 5

    Effie

    How much fun was this to read? The authors don't follow the Victorian standard of thinking that girls should sit indoors and embroider. They believe that American girls are capable of anything, whether it's erecting a home gymnasium to exercise in, taking a ten-mile walk with friends, or building a simple hammock one afternoon. How much fun was this to read? The authors don't follow the Victorian standard of thinking that girls should sit indoors and embroider. They believe that American girls are capable of anything, whether it's erecting a home gymnasium to exercise in, taking a ten-mile walk with friends, or building a simple hammock one afternoon.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    This book is written from a prairie girl style (like Little House) but it is full of craft ideas. They seem to be dated ideas as I enjoyed reading it but I didn't find any craft projects of interest to me (which is a shocker cuz I love crafting!). Might be more of an interest to a younger reader as more of an adventure than a craft book. This book is written from a prairie girl style (like Little House) but it is full of craft ideas. They seem to be dated ideas as I enjoyed reading it but I didn't find any craft projects of interest to me (which is a shocker cuz I love crafting!). Might be more of an interest to a younger reader as more of an adventure than a craft book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Page

    Clever crafts and activities from the beginning of the century. No wonder it's stayed in print all these years! It provides a window into the past with slightly dated turns of phrase and activities, but it's not difficult to follow and replicate... I've done things from here before, and it really is fun! Fun from a simpler time. Clever crafts and activities from the beginning of the century. No wonder it's stayed in print all these years! It provides a window into the past with slightly dated turns of phrase and activities, but it's not difficult to follow and replicate... I've done things from here before, and it really is fun! Fun from a simpler time.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Meltha

    Frankly, not as much fun as the Boys Handy Book (its the 1870s, I think, so girls doing much of anything was still a pretty radical concept), but this is a heck of a good peek into a childhood nobody really gets to have anymore.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    i just love this little book, well its a sort of big book, but it gives me warm fuzzies to think about corn husk dolls and hand knotted hammocks and well i must admit the american boys handy book is a bit more fun!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Think of this as the Girl Scout book for those that aren't interested in joining. There's all sorts of helpful things in here for decorating, hobbies and more. Set up by season some of the included are how to press flowers, sewing (stitches) Painting, and more Think of this as the Girl Scout book for those that aren't interested in joining. There's all sorts of helpful things in here for decorating, hobbies and more. Set up by season some of the included are how to press flowers, sewing (stitches) Painting, and more

  15. 5 out of 5

    Flower

    Great book!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Thompson

    I've read snippets, but this is not a sit down and read book. I've read snippets, but this is not a sit down and read book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Reader2007

    I remember reading this a while ago. It was great. :)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    Reprint of an old-timey book abou 100 years old. Great fun.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Erika Mulvenna

    GREAT BOOK! A reprint of a girl's craft and party ideas published in the 1890's - some of the ideas are wonderful, and some are downright creepy. Good reading. GREAT BOOK! A reprint of a girl's craft and party ideas published in the 1890's - some of the ideas are wonderful, and some are downright creepy. Good reading.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    This is not a book for reading all the way through. Outdated and archaic. But charming as a glimpse into the time period. Not a book I'll keep around. This is not a book for reading all the way through. Outdated and archaic. But charming as a glimpse into the time period. Not a book I'll keep around.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    Arcane but wonderful back to basics crafts, nature, learning and fun for children - and us! :)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Genevieve Allen

    I should've stuck with the boys version. The girl activities are boring!! I should've stuck with the boys version. The girl activities are boring!!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Miya

    Full of um... infinite possiblities? Anyway I love it!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bree

    Notes: outdated

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cera

    This was a really cool glimpse into late 19th century life. I can't imagine that I'd ever have the patience to do some of these projects, though! This was a really cool glimpse into late 19th century life. I can't imagine that I'd ever have the patience to do some of these projects, though!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    creatively unique :)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Lots and lots of good ideas.

  28. 5 out of 5

    MaximusIntoxicus

  29. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Andrew

  30. 4 out of 5

    megan recalcati

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