Before the Xbox and personal computer, before even electricity and batteries, children powered their fun with simple toys and made-up outdoor games. In nineteenth-century Appalachia, the region's mountainous landscape served as a magnificent playground for children. Among June bugs, crawdads, and evergreen conifers, children used their imaginations and creativity to develop some of history's most cherished pastimes.

In Appalachian Toys and Games from A to Z, Linda Hager Pack presents an eloquent, educational, and entertaining depiction of playtime in nineteenth-century Appalachia. Featuring nearly thirty bright and whimsical watercolor illustrations by Pat Banks, this alphabetical sampling of traditional games, toys, and songs comes to life on the page. A beautifully illustrated and heartfelt look at the traditions, history, and life of the mountain south, Appalachian Toys and Games from A to Z introduces young readers to a world of childhood leisure that is becoming increasingly uncommon while also providing an endearing look at a region with one of the oldest and most distinctive folk cultures in the United States.

Mountain children (and adults) had a rip-roaring good time playing with handmade toys. From apple dolls, a wrinkled toy carefully molded from Rome apples in the summer, to whimmydiddles, a toy carved by young boys on a stick with a spinner, Appalachian Toys and Games makes its way through the alphabet describing a multitude of children's playthings. The book includes familiar toys like marbles, slingshots and pick-up-sticks, as well as lesser-known toys such as limberjacks, Tom Walkers, and buzz buttons. Pack also provides instructions for making toys like ragdolls and noisemakers. Along with explanations of popular toys of the time, Pack includes folktales and anecdotes, such as the Iroquois legend of the corn husk doll and the interesting ways Appalachian children obtained their marbles.

In addition to playing with toys, Appalachian children spent a lot of time playing outdoors in mountain yards. Pack provides instructions and rules for popular games like Kick the Can, Hopscotch, Fox and Hounds, and Anty Over, as well as singsong rhymes from jumping rope and Drop the Handkerchief (the Appalachian version of Duck Duck Goose). Eerie stories were another form of entertainment, and Appalachian Toys and Games includes a favorite from Pack's childhood. With few toys and books at home, Appalachia's children also tapped into their imaginations to mine creative ways for entertainment. Pack describes how girls and boys alike sought out clearings for playhouses and forts, with privacy provided by the natural walls of trees, shrubs, and bushes.

In the days before television or the Internet, Appalachian children played most games outside and shared toys with siblings and friends. Appalachian Toys and Games from A to Z informs readers of an often unseen side of Appalachia's rich history and reminds us of games from the past. Adults and children alike, whether native to the region or not, will relish this nostalgic look into the past and will come away with a better knowledge of the origins of Appalachian heritage.

Linda Hager Pack, an educator for twenty-two years, taught children's literature at Eastern Kentucky University and received the Ashland Oil Teacher of the Year award in 1996. She is the author of A is for Appalachia! The Alphabet Book of Appalachian Heritage.

Pat Banks, a master watercolorist, is a Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen member, a Kentucky Arts Council roster artist, and a Kentucky Craft Marketing program participant. She is the illustrator of A is for Appalachia! The Alphabet Book of Appalachian Heritage.