Book it when you travel

Books - August 2006


Judy Belanger

It's that ARE-WE-THERE-YET? time of year again. Here are some ideas to put in that bag of tricks to keep kids busy while in a car, on a plane or during a rainy afternoon. Many fiction books are available on CD. You can also check for games such as looking for state license plates, alphabet search and "my grandfather owns a grocery store." So, pack paper, markers and colored pencils.

WEE SING MOTHER GOOSE, by Pamela Conn Beall and Susan Hagen Nipp, illustrated by Liisa Chauncy Guida, Price Stern Sloan, $9.99; ages 3-8.

The Wee Sing collection has been around for a while, first on cassette and now on CD. This has a follow-along book with 71 nursery rhymes and plays. A group of eight children are included on the recording. First the rhyme is recited by one child, then the rhyme is sung. All the traditional rhymes are here. I really enjoyed listening to the CD. If you want your riders to take a nap, the last six rhymes might lull them into sleep.

STICKER ACTIVITY FUN TEDDY BEARS, by Roger Priddy, Priddy Books, $3.47; ages 4-7.

This activity book has numbered stickers throughout and pages that allow children to follow the dots and work their way through mazes. Some pages ask kids to find the pictures that are alike and different. You'll need a pencil for number and letter practice as well as the beginning word search.

EASY SUDOKU PUZZLES, DORA THE EXPLORER, by Sonia Sander, and SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS, by Craig Robert Carey, Simon Spotlight, $5.99 each; ages 4-8.

Instead of numbers, these Sudoku puzzles use movable pattern pieces in four-square grids. Since the characters are familiar to children, this is a fun way for even young children to learn how to solve easy Sudoku puzzles. This is also a way for little ones to develop math skills such as patterning, sequencing and sorting.

LETTERS FROM CAMP MAD LIBS: FUN STATIONERY TO FILL OUT AND MAIL!, by Roger Price and Leonard Stern, Price Stern Sloan, $4.99; ages 7-12.

"But I didn't have time to send you a note" was the excuse I always gave for not sending letters from camp. It doesn't take much time to fill in the blanks with this Mad Lib pad. I'm sure parents and friends will enjoy receiving these clever notes, and campers will have fun filling in the missing words. When the notes are finished, they just fold up and go right in the mail.

THE KIDS' BOOK OF SUDOKU!, by Alastair Chisholm, illustrations by Nikalas Catlow, Simon & Schuster, $5.99; ages 7-12.

At the beginning, the puzzles are very easy with only one missing number per nine-square box. This is a good way for someone who has never done Sudoku to learn. The book gets progressively harder through seven levels. By the time kids get to puzzle No. 151, they will be experts.

KAKURO FOR KIDS: SAMURAI AND NINJA EDITIONS, by Alastair Chisholm, Walker and Co., $5.95 each; ages 7-12.

Kakuro are Japanese logic puzzles done in a grid similar to a crossword puzzle. You are given number clues. Add combinations of the numbers together to match the clues both down and across. This book offers good instructions for solving these puzzles and they start easy at the white belt level and progress up to black belt. These 100 puzzles should keep older riders busy for many miles.

WHERE'S WALDO? THE GREAT PICTURE HUNT!, by Martin Hanford, Candlewick Press, $14.99; ages 6 and up.

Where's Waldo? books are always good for keeping kids busy. This new version includes a page of picture frames to place over the items on each page. When the kids finish, just peel off the frame and use it again on the next page. I recommend making a copy of the checklists to mark off the items as they are found on each page so you don't have to flip back and forth. Don't forget to look for the other characters and items such as Woof and his bone or Wanda and her camera on each page. Happy searching.

AMELIA'S ARE-WE-THERE-YET LONGEST EVER CAR TRIP, by Marissa Moss, Simon & Schuster, $9.95; ages 7-10.

Amelia has a great idea: Take a journal and record everything while you are on a trip. Amelia and her family are traveling by car from Oregon to the Grand Canyon, Death Valley and Yosemite Park. The best part of the vacation will be when they visit her best friend Nadia in Sacramento, Calif., where Amelia's family once lived. Reading this journal may inspire a few travelers to record their own trip.

ULTIMATE TRAVEL GAMES, by Micol Ostow, Price Stern Sloan, $12.99; ages 8 and up.

The variety of ideas in this book offers something for everyone. Two boards are included for car bingo. If you need a good laugh, try the jokes. Ideas include the usual car games plus a list for a travel scavenger hunt. The kids could brainstorm their own list for a hunt. Also included in a resealable bag are pieces and a board for playing checkers, chess and backgammon. Instructions are included for those who are just learning how to play these games. 

Judy Belanger is Chicago Parent's children's book reviewer and a retired elementary learning resource center teacher who lives with her husband in Addison. They have two grown children and four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6 in the school where she taught.


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