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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.

POP-UP BOOKS:

• 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.

BOOK SETS:

• 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).

GIFT BOOKS:

• 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.

COOKBOOKS PLUS:

• 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).

ART/ACTIVITY BOOKS:

• 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).

BOOK/TOY SETS:

• 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 Kam.Macpherson@gmail.com.

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