Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Books for play

Here are three books on my Christmas shopping list that aren't exactly books; that is, they are books, and just a little bit more — art, games, puzzles, adventures, playthings, exercises in deduction.

1. Color Your Own Graphic Novel: Sherlock Holmes The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Arthur Conan Doyle, adapted by John Green.

The classic detective story is done up comic-book style, and you get to colour it yourself. We're big fans of Sherlock in this household. I suspect Helena would find Arthur Conan Doyle's original text and little daunting at her age, and I hope this abridged text will be a little more accessible. Plus (did I mention?), it's a comic book! And you get to colour it yourself! OMG how perfect is that when you're 10!

2. The Worst-Case Scenario, An Ultimate Adventure: Amazon: You Decide How to Survive!, by Hena Kahn and David Borgenicht, with Ed Stafford, Amazon consultant, illustrated by Yancey Labat.

Helena and I worked through a previous adventure in this series, to Mars. It's a choose-your-own-adventure-type story, but your life depends on it. Not only do you have to identify which choice demonstrates bettter science, but you need to perform risk-benefit analyses and manage some complex relationships. We spent more time talking — discussing our choices and the factors that played into them — than reading. Also, we made the wrong choices, and failed several times.

It's not just about decision making, and it's not just about a fun reading experience, though it is those things. I love that the series is based on real, true-life facts.

This Amazon adventure promises piranhas, tarantulas, mosquitoes, monkeys, and jaguars..

3. Penguin Classics Mad Libs, by Roger Price and Leonard Stern.

I admit: I'm stuffing my own stocking with this one. This collection of Mad Libs borrows the openings of literary classics, and leaves you to fill in the blanks. "It was the best of times, it was the ____ of times." The kid may not appreciate the classics yet, but she enjoys Mad Libs. The rest of my family is tolerant of my enthusiasm for both these things. I'm crossing my fingers that someone will play with me.
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