Originally published Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Entertaining book sets and activity kits for kids

Kids' books: Gift ideas for children include special book collections, pop-up books and book-related activity kits.

Scripps Howard News Service

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Treat your children to some distinctive and entertaining gifts this holiday season with some of these special book collections and book-related activity kits.


• A classic book written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram translates perfectly into an interactive volume in "Guess How Much I Love You: The Pop-Up Edition" (Candlewick Press, $19.99, ages 3-5).

• Author/illustrator Paul Zelinsky has put a new cover on his previous published — and still totally charming — pop-up book, "Knick-Knack PaddyWhack!" (Dutton, $20.99, ages 3-5).

• Young vehicle fans will be captivated by two new interactive books: "Under the Hood"(Candlewick Press, $14.99, ages 3-5), written and illustrated by Christophe Merlin; and "Amazing Pop-Up Trucks" (Candlewick Press, $17.99, ages 3-7), written and illustrated by Robert Crowther.

• Trying to figure out how the "magic ribbon" works brings extra interest to the simple story of "The Splendid Spotted Snake" (Workman, $13.95, ages 3-5), written and illustrated by Betty Ann Schwartz and Alexander Wilensky.

• One of author Roald Dahl's best-loved stories, complete with illustrations by Quentin Blake, gets a jazzy abridged treatment in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Pop-Up Book" (Puffin, $29.99, ages 4-8).

• Both Homer devotees and those coming for the first time to one of his classic tales will delight in a spectacular pop-up version of "The Odyssey" (Sterling, $26.95, ages 8 up) created by Sam Ita.

• Young readers who love to scare themselves will enjoy two new books: "The Monstrous Book of Monsters" (Templar/Candlewick Press, $17.99, ages 4-8), written by Libby Hamilton and illustrated by Jonny Duddle and Aleksei Bitskoff; and "The Giant Book of Giants" (Sterling, $19.95, ages 4-8), written by Saviour Pirotta and illustrated by Mark Robertson.

• A different kind of monster is profiled in "Darth Vader: A 3-D Reconstruction Log" (Scholastic, $19.99, ages 4-8), written by Daniel Wallace and illustrated by Chris Trevas and Chris Reiff. With this intriguing book, readers can peel away layer after layer of the infamous "Star Wars" character.


• Give your children a chance to sample some of the best kids' books ever written with "A Newbery Collection" (Houghton Mifflin, $27.99, ages 9-12). This paperback set includes four winners of the Newbery Medal (given annual by the American Library Association to the best-written children's book): "Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry; "A Single Shard" by Linda Sue Park, "Island of the Blue Dolphins" by Scott O'Dell and "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" by Elizabeth George Speare.

• For the teens in your household, try a beautifully boxed edition of the first book in Suzanne Collins' best-selling "Hunger Games" trilogy (Scholastic, $30, ages 10 up).


• Fans of the "Pinkalicious" picture books, written and illustrated by Victoria Kann, will love "Pinkalicious: The Princess of Pink Treasury" (Harper, $19.99, ages 3-6), which features five stories, a CD and various games and other activities.

• One of the world's most beloved characters stars in "Curious George: Stories to Share" (Houghton Mifflin, $10.99, ages 3-6), which includes eight stories by Margret and H.A. Rey.

• Curious George also is among the characters whose stories and poems are compiled in "The Family Storybook Treasury" (Houghton Mifflin, $18.99, ages 3-7). Among the stories in this volume, which includes a CD, are "Sheep in a Jeep" by Nancy Shaw, "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" by Eileen Christelow and "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel" by Virginia Lee Burton.

• Author Michael Morpurgo and illustrator Emma Chichester Clark team up to offer a bright new version of "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" (Candlewick Press, $16.99, ages 4-8).

• Martha, that talking dog, shows why she's such a special canine in the "Martha Speaks Story Time Collection" (Houghton Mifflin, $10.99; ages 4-8), written and illustrated by Susan Meddaugh. The book includes 100 stickers.

• Author Jamila Gavin brings readers some wonderful "Tales From India: Stories of Creation and the Cosmos" (Templar/Candlewick Press, $19.99, ages 7 up), a volume beautifully illustrated by Amanda Hall.


• Kids and grown-ups will have fun cooking together using Annabel Karmel's "My Favorite Recipes" (DK, $14.99, ages 3 up), which comes with its own cookbook stand and easy-to-follow recipes for treats such as Peanut Butter Bears and My Favorite Crepes.

• Innovative author/illustrator Herve Tullet offers "recipes" for kids — and willing adults — to create their own art masterpieces with his "Doodle Cook" (Phaidon, $14.95, ages 5 up).


• Tweens and teens interested in fashion will love the chance to show off their creativity with "The Fashion Coloring Book" (Graphia/Houghton Mifflin, $12.99, ages 10 up).

• Unleash kids' imagination with the help of the various sets of "StoryWorld" cards created by John and Caitlin Matthews. The kits, which cost $9.99 each, are aimed at ages 8-12. Choose from these new sets: "Tales from the Haunted House," "Fairy Magic," "Legends of the Sea" and "Christmas Tales."

• Klutz is king when it comes to helping kids develop their creative side. Some of their best new book/activity kits, all for ages 8 up, include: "Ribbon Bangles" ($19.99); "Twisted Critters: The Pipe Cleaner Book" ($16.99); "My Fabulous Look Book: Fashion Drawing Made Easy" ($19.99); "Make a Mummy, Shrink a Head and Other Useful Skills" ($19.99); "Stamp Art"($21.99); "Pom-Pom Monster Salon" ($16.99); "The Klutz Guide to the Galaxy" ($19.99); and "Thumb Wars" ($12.99).

• Kids can learn about genealogy with "Who Do You Think You Are? Be a Family Tree Detective" by Dan Waddell (Candlewick Press, $19.99, ages 7 up).


• Give toddlers a bedtime treat with "Maisy's Snuggle Book" (Candlewick Press, $14.99, ages 1-3), a soft fabric volume featuring author/illustrator Lucy Cousins' famous mouse named Maisy.

• "The Ladybug Girl" set (Dial, $16.99, ages 3-6) includes a small-sized copy of the best-selling book written and illustrated by David Somar and Jacky Davis, plus a little Ladybug Girl doll.

Karen MacPherson, the children's/teen librarian at the Takoma Park, Md., Library, can be reached at

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