STARRED REVIEW
December 01, 2019

Gift books: For curious young minds

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STARRED REVIEW
December 01, 2019

Gift books: For curious young minds

Feature by
December 01, 2019

Gift books: For curious young minds

Feature by
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Brimming with eye-opening information and hands-on activities, these innovative books will inspire young readers to think, create and collaborate. No screens or devices required!


Mythologica by Steve Kershaw, illustrated by Victoria Topping
Mythologica: An Encyclopedia of Gods, Monsters and Mortals From Ancient Greece is sure to ignite young imaginations. Classicist Steve Kershaw chronicles the exploits of gods, goddesses and the humans with whom they become entangled in this mesmerizing volume. Brief yet detailed encyclopedic entries explain the background and notable traits of Greek mythology’s players from Athena to Zeus. Kershaw’s snapshots of these fascinating figures communicate the drama and adventure that give the myths their perennial appeal, and artist Victoria Topping’s fantastical collages create a dazzling dreamscape that suits the gods’ larger-than-life deeds. Mythologica is an outstanding introduction to ancient stories and a volume to be treasured. 

Castles Magnified by David Long, illustrated by Harry Bloom
Tales of knights, lords and ladies rival those of the gods for spectacle and intrigue. Castles Magnified tells of storied figures such as Richard the Lionheart and explores the manners and mores of the Middle Ages through teeming illustrations of medieval life. Splendidly rendered by illustrator Harry Bloom, the bustling scenes invite close inspection; with the magnifying glass included in the book, readers can do just that. A cutaway effect in Bloom’s illustrations reveals castle interiors inhabited by servants, guards and nobles. A list of items for youngsters to spy and identify accompanies each scene. With ample historical background contributed by author David Long, Castles Magnified brings a long-ago era into focus.

Paper World by Bomboland
Another eye-opening pick that’s perfect for holiday giving is Paper World: Planet Earth by Bomboland, the Italian illustration studio of cut-paper artists Maurizio Santucci and Elisa Cerri. The book’s ingeniously engineered flaps, cutouts and illustrations teach readers about the diverse topographies and ecosystems that exist across the globe. Movable tabs reveal Earth’s hidden wonders: tectonic plates, deep-sea marine trenches, underground caves and more. 

Easy-to-follow descriptions complement the book’s impressive visuals, and the authors have included related sections on weather forecasting and storms, along with a helpful glossary. Their vibrant cut-paper replicas of soaring mountain ranges, snaking rivers, explosive volcanoes and mighty glaciers are designed to delight. This inventive geological journey will transform the way children view the great outdoors.

Make Your Own Optical Illusions by Clive Gifford
New ways of seeing also abound in Make Your Own Optical Illusions: 50 Hands-On Models and Experiments to Make and Do. In this beguiling book, author Clive Gifford investigates different types of optical illusions and equips his audience with need-to-know information on vision and perception. Through clear, accessible explanations of how our brains process color, motion and other stimuli, he sets the stage for an amazing magic show.

Nifty projects with clear instructions appear throughout the book. Paper punch-outs allow aspiring illusionists to create spinning tops, a 3D dog and other objects. With helpful illustrations and interactive elements contributed by artist Rob Ives, the book gives readers everything they need to explore new modes of perception. Get ready for some visual trickery!

United Tastes of America by Gabrielle Langholtz, illustrated by Jenny Bowers, photographs by DL Acken
The creativity continues—in the kitchen—with United Tastes of America: An Atlas of Food Facts and Recipes From Every State!. Food writer Gabrielle Langholtz serves up 54 dishes in this delectable book—one for each state, plus Washington, D.C., and the three U.S. territories—and her simple instructions cater to the kiddos. Featuring favorites like Wisconsin stovetop macaroni and cheese, along with out-of-the-ordinary menu items like Ohio buckeye candies, United Tastes delivers a mouthwatering overview of America’s culinary culture. Photographer DL Acken presents the completed dishes as works of art that are clean and simple. The atlas also offers a state-by-state survey of food-related trivia, with encyclopedic spreads beautifully illustrated by Jenny Bowers. Break out the aprons! Little cooks will love this terrific book.

The Interactive Constitution by David Miles, illustrated by Albert Pinilla
America’s heritage is also the focus of David Miles’ The Interactive Constitution. The sturdy pages in this bold, colorful book have flaps, tabs, windows and wheels—inviting elements that inform readers about political science, American history and the U.S. Constitution. The book’s welcoming text provides important information about the Founding Fathers, the three branches of government and the system of checks and balances, as well as deep dives into important facets of the Constitution, including its famous Preamble and the Bill of Rights. Albert Pinilla’s vivid artwork is filled with standout infographics and plenty of surprises, such as a lift-the-flap portrait gallery of presidents. This immersive title is certain to inspire the leaders of tomorrow.

Welcome to Jazz by Carolyn Sloan, illustrated by Jessica Gibson
There’s more hands-on fun to be found in Carolyn Sloan’s Welcome to Jazz, featuring three felines (yes, these cats are cool!) who drop in to a club to see a band. The musicians kick off their set with “When the Saints Go Marching In,” a song that Sloan uses to riff on the subject of jazz. Breaking down the tune’s components, Sloan covers significant instruments, including the saxophone, trumpet and trombone, and defines musical concepts such as improvisation. Readers can listen to “Saints” and sample musical sounds via the book’s press-and-play audio panel. Jessica Gibson’s energetic illustrations capture the spirit of the proceedings, making this a five-star performance from start to finish.

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Get the Books

Mythologica

Mythologica

By Steve Kershaw, illustrated by Victoria Topping
Wide Eyed
ISBN 9781786031938
Castles Magnified

Castles Magnified

By David Long, illustrated by Harry Bloom
Wide Eyed
ISBN 9781786033253
Paper World: Planet Earth

Paper World: Planet Earth

Big Picture
ISBN 9781536208542
Make Your Own Optical Illusions

Make Your Own Optical Illusions

By Clive Gifford, illustrated by Rob Ives
QEB
ISBN 9781786038623
United Tastes of America

United Tastes of America

By Gabrielle Langholtz, illustrated by Danielle Acken & Jenny Bowers
Phaidon
ISBN 9780714878621
The Interactive Constitution

The Interactive Constitution

By David Miles, illustrated by Albert Pinilla
Bushel & Peck
ISBN 9781733633529
Welcome to Jazz

Welcome to Jazz

By Carolyn Sloan, illustrated by Jessica Gibson
Workman
ISBN 9781523506880

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