You know a book is going to be good when your eight-year-old gets to it before you do and you have to go spelunking in their room to find out where the little flogger hid it. Bushcraft Illustratated is that kind of book, a wonderful picture-filled book that will educate adults and children alike in the arcane arts of staying alive in the woods.
The book is the latest in a successful line of books on bushcraft by Dave Canterbury, a survival specialist who runs The Pathfinder School teaching basic to advanced survival techniques. The first impression on picking up BI is that it's a really nicely produced book, beautifully bound and printed with great organization and plentiful and clear illustrations. It's easy to forget what good design looks like, and BI reminds us by feeling immediately familiar and accessible.
The book starts out with a section on packs and other tools and progresses through various skills like knots, shelter, firemaking and navigation. There are sections on harvesting animals and plants and first aid. Dave's philosophy might be summed up when he writes, "You will then use what you packed to create what you need," laying out his approach to using naturally available resources to build with and consume. There's a lot to be said for his idea that this will connect the experience more closely to nature.
That said, if there's one nitpick I have it's the first aid section. It really needs to add CPR, which is a technique requiring no special gear, just a little bit of knowledge that you're just as likely to need as the ability to stop a bleed. Also, in the same spirit as bringing a basic set of tools to aid survival, I would argue that a basic trauma kit should be a part of anyone's backcountry loadout. Overall Bushcraft Illustrated is a great read with a nice philosophy and many useful techniques. It's also a great way to get kids interested in backcountry adventure, and to equip them to handle the twists and turns of life.