Paul Tukey thinks people might do more to take care of their immediate natural surroundings if they have fun in those surroundings.

So it makes sense, in Tukey’s view, for him to write a book about lawn games.

He founded the nonprofit group SafeLawns to advocate for chemical-free lawn care. He’s also the author of “The Organic Lawn Care Manual,” the former host of “People, Places and Plants” on HGTV, and editor of a magazine of the same name.

But he’s taking a slightly different angle with his new book, “Tag, Toss & Run: 40 Classic Lawn Games” (Storey, $14.95).

By promoting the old-fashioned notion of getting outside to play instead of hunkering down with an electronic device for recreation, he hopes to raise people’s appreciation of their own backyards.

The book includes rules, strategy and history for classic yard games like badminton and croquet, as well as lesser-known games from other countries like Sepak Takraw (Thailand) and Molkky (Finland). It also includes classic kids’ games like Red Light, Green Light; Capture the Flag; and Red Rover.

Tukey wrote the book with Maine-raised actress Victoria Rowell, best known for TV roles on “Diagnosis: Murder” with Dick Van Dyke and the daytime soap “The Young and the Restless.”

Tukey, 51, ran his businesses in Maine for many years, and currently lives in Rhode Island.


Q: How did you team up with Victoria Rowell for this book?

A: We met at the flower show (in Boston) in 2007. We were both doing book signings and we started chatting. We stayed in touch and became friends. She invited me to her wedding, at a very large farm in New Hampshire, and they did lawn games. It struck me that it would make a great book, lawn games, and that Victoria would bring a different perspective to it than me. I invited her to write it with me, and she couldn’t say yes fast enough.


Q: How did you split up the writing? Who wrote what?

A: We made up a list of games, shared the research duties, then we’d talk about the games. She knew more about things like jump rope — I still can’t jump rope. So she took and wrote the ones she knows more about and I did the ones I knew about. Then there were some neither of us played. But I made a point to play every game in the book before I wrote about it.


Q: How did you get this idea?

A: Before my 2-year-old could talk, she could navigate an iPad. It’s easy these days to default to (electronics) as a baby sitter. But I don’t want to relegate the old-fashioned outdoor childhood to memory. When I was growing up in Maine, we’d be sent out the door with a lunch and be back home just for dinner time.

We’d play Capture the Flag, kickball, tag. Today, you don’t see kids playing unless it’s supervised. So for me, writing this book is part nostalgia and part urgency.

Today (some) kids are spending eight to nine hours a day with electronic devices. But by not playing outdoors, they miss out on the socialization, family bonding, conflict resolution, and an appreciation of nature.


Q: Do you worry that young people will have less appreciation for the outdoors if they spend so much time indoors?

A: If you grow up indoors, then you might not have a connection to the outdoors. If you grow up with an appreciation for nature, then when you see a shopping mall being developed, you might say we have enough shopping malls already.


Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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Twitter: RayRouthier