Former Hoosier — now Brooklyn-based, award-winning author — and part-time Lake Maxinkuckee resident Heather Swain has been making literary waves since her 1999 publication debut, but her most recent book is a shift from her several novels, to something a bit more practical for parents and kids. She’ll be sharing ideas from “Make These Toys: 101 Clever Creations Using Everyday Items” (2010, Puffin/Speak, a subsidiary of internationally known Penguin Books) with Culver audiences August 31 at 3:30 p.m. when she stops at the Culver-Union Twp. Public Library.

She’ll be demonstrating some of the home-made toy techniques outlined in the book at the library, including indoor tennis (page 15); balloon punch ball (page 7); rolling dog (page 154); and a marshmallow popper (page 4). As is the case with all the projects in the book, these will be made with household objects (in this case provided by the library) and are aimed at getting kids’ creative juices flowing. Kids in attendance will make their own toys to take home, and Swain will be giving away copies of her book to a few lucky children in attendance.
“Before mega toy stores and Internet shopping,” Swain says in the book, “kids found plenty of ways to entertain themselves. Children have been playing with rag dolls, slingshots, sewing cards, and wooden hoops with sticks since homesteaders parked their Conestogawagons on the prairies. Most of these play things were made by either the kids themselves or the grown-ups who loved them.”
She adds there are great reasons for kids to make toys at home; doing so can save money and natural resources, decrease toxins in one’s home, and the best reason of all, she says, is that it’s fun.
Swain is no stranger to Culver. She and her husband (a fellow Hoosier) spend each August on the shores of Lake Maxinkuckee with their two young children. And for parents and grandparents in a community like Culver, whether you’re visiting the lakeside for a week or so or a year-round resident, the endeavors described in the book may be life-savers in the advent of a rainy day at Maxinkuckee — or anywhere else, for that matter.
Heather Swain is a former third grade teacher, a writing instructor, and the author of the young adult novels “Me, My Elf, and I,” and “Selfish Elf Wish.” Her novels for adult readers, including “Luscious Lemon,” have received rave reviews from critics across the country. “Luscious Lemon,” in fact, was named Best Novel of the Year by an Indiana Author by the Indiana State Library a few years ago( More information about “Make These Toys” and her other works is available online at For more information on Swain’s Culver-Union Township Public Library visit, please contact the library at 574-842-2941 or at