gearing up for #opting outside — unplug and breathe some fresh air!

One of Orange Marmalade’s five-star values is non-electronic, non-virtual pastimes for Real Human Beings. Imagination. Outdoor play. That’s the stuff that builds strong bodies, sharp minds, creative thinking, less-stressed kids, and so much more.


So I’m thrilled with REI’s campaign, in its second year now, to #optoutside on Black Friday. Instead of heading into a madhouse of consumerism, a cacophony of noise, crowds, and overstimulating displays, why not opt for some refreshing outdoor activity. My blog on Friday will feature some great Christmas gift ideas all focused on outdoor pleasures.

Today, I’ve got two wonderful books that celebrate the unplugged, creative lifestyle to get your juices flowing!

tek-the-modern-cave-boy-cover-imageTek, the Modern Cave Boy, written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
published in 2016 by Little, Brown and Company

Absolutely brilliant concept, packaging, and storyline combine to entice kids into the great outdoors in Patrick McDonnell’s new book.

Meet Tek. He’s a cave boy with a propensity for staying indoors, glued to his electronic toys. (If you didn’t realize the Internet has been around since the Stone Age…well, apparently it has.)

Nothing can budge Tek from his gadgets until Big Poppa, the local volcano, blows his top, shakes things up, causes all those electronics to crash. And lo and behold! Tek awakens to the glories of the world around him! Beautiful!

The puns and wild anachronisms here are so very witty. Plus, the packaging of this story is pure genius, tailored for today’s kids who have grown up knowing how to operate the tablets and i-everything of their parents since well before they could talk.


You might not be able to tell from the image of the book cover, but it’s formatted like a tablet. It even feels like a sleek electronic device, of just the right thickness. Open the cover, and you’ll meet a “screen” asking for a password. So unexpected. 

Each page in the first half of the book resembles a screen and by carefully observing the details, tech-savvy kids will notice some clever, subtle changes occurring as the story progresses. Once the big crash comes, the screens are gone and we’re in full-page, room-to-breathe, non-virtual reality. 


Pair this with Matthew Cordell’s hello hello for two of the most exceptional books capturing the sheer joy of escape from the electronic bog. Ages 4 and up.

alfie-weather-cover-imageAlfie Weather, written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes
originally published in Great Britain by The Bodley Head, 2001; this edition by Red Fox, 2002

The entire series of Alfie stories is a paeon to imaginative, mussy, play. That’s certainly one of the great appeals of the world Shirley Hughes has handed down to us.


Alfie Weather is another endearing, cheerful peek into the champion ways Alfie and his family enjoy themselves all year round. It includes four stories and two poems.


Splashing about in the rain, going on an expedition to the North Pole (or Grandma’s attic, as the case may be), investigating wormy apples, wading through a stream on a hot day, and discovering stars everywhere from iced-over puddles to the spangled night sky. Tea and cookies. Tears and understanding hugs. That’s what the days are made of, whatever the weather, for Alfie and Annie Rose. 


I love the way Hughes inspires us, beckons us, to lead simpler, more creative, slower lives with our young children. This gem is to share over and over again, with ages 2 and up.