Got Boys? Tin Cups and Tinder is a Must Have

A Review of Tin Cups & Tinder: A Catholic Boy's Little Book of Fire, Food and Fun

I have to warn you right from the start that at some point I'll likely call this book...beautiful. I know my boys would object. I'll try to refrain.

The author of Tin Cups and Tinder is no stranger to beauty. Alice Cantrell has previously published two of my favorite books for Catholic girls, Sewing with Saint Anne and Tea and Cake with the Saints, which are well-loved by the girls in my home. When I heard that she was about to release a book for boys...well, mark the calendar because I want to be first in line! After receiving a review copy (signed by the lovely author) I can now say with absolute confidence...

Got boys? Buy this book! It's absolutely...Beautiful. In a boy way.

This Book is "All Boy"

In the "note to parents" Mrs. Cantrell writes: 

"The purpose of this little book is to casually introduce a few domestic survival skills to our boys using useful recipes and other projects all lightly seasoned with the rich flavors of our faith. It is not meant to be a home economics text, but a first taste of what fun adventures cooking and (very ) basic stitching can be. It is my hope that this book will spark an interest in these things, and as they get older, our boys might be more inclined to further develop these skills."

I have seen home economics books for boys in the past and have often been less than impressed as many simply try to get boys excited about being in a "girl" environment. Tin Cups and Tinder does nothing of the kind. Rather, it meets boys in their own environment and finds a place for domestic skills within that masculine context. 

When I first opened the book I was met by a stunning photo of boys building a fire. After reading the note to parents, I turn the page and saw...*gasp*...a pocket knife in use! Hoorah! Fire and knives! If you aren't yet a parent to boys (or a sibling to one) you may not understand my enthusiasm. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of either item in the hands of my sons but there doesn't seem to be a good way to take the fascination with fire and knives out of the hearts of little boys. The wiser road is to teach them how to use these tools in a responsible and practical way. When I was a first time mom of an infant male, you could not have convinced me that I would ever say such a thing. As I hold my 6th infant (and third boy) in my arms (yes, I'm typing with one hand), I am a changed woman.

The cooking section of the book is not girly in the least. There is nothing feminine about brownies when a boy is eating one and the resemblance of brownie mixture to a bowl of mud is striking. The other recipes are decidedly useful and definitely fun. 

And how about the sewing? I have just one word for you: haversack. This is not grandma's quilting bee.

I have no objection to boys being involved in the domestic arts but have noticed that most presentations are directed specifically at the feminine sensibilities. I have seen my bibliophile son read a cook book when no other reading material is handy. It interests him because everything interests him. However, the fact remains that pink books decorated with ribbon and flowers featuring images of girls in aprons do scream the message: This book is not really for you, young man! My hat is off to Mrs. Cantrell for knowing a boy's heart and speaking to it.

This Book is Catholic

I told you about the pocket knife already but I didn't mention the medal of the Sacred Heart of Jesus dangling from it (you can see it in the photo of the front cover above). The beauty of our Catholic faith is gently sprinkled throughout this book through Scripture and project ideas. Not "in your face" but perfectly and maturely blended, much the way we all strive to live and teach through our domestic churches. The book does not come across as a "religious" book but as a natural extension of a home that lives and loves Christ. 

I'll leave you with a fun video that the author put together and shared on her own blog a while back. It features her own boys testing projects from the book. Enjoy!

Making a Book from Alice Cantrell on Vimeo.

Posted on November 16, 2010 and filed under "Alice Cantrell", "Tin Cups and Tinder", "gifts for Catholic Boys".