Winter is a time for holidays, and the holiday spirit is expressed in so many ways. We sing, dance, decorate, light candles--and of course give gifts. Parents especially know that the giving is as much fun as the receiving, but sometimes searching for just the right gift can be hectic.
This section is our annual offer of help to everyone, everywhere, shopping for gifts for children. Our judges have looked, listened, played and pondered before choosing the cream of the crop of this year's entries to honor with NAPPA Gold. Their reviews should help point you in the right direction as you shop and search. You can access this information online at ParenthoodWeb.com, www.parenthoodweb.com.
And just to add some fun, we're giving away some free shopping as well. Our corporate sponsor, The Right Start, is hosting a random drawing in which one of our lucky readers will win the Grand Prize of a $1,000 shopping spree at any The Right Start store or www.rightstart.com. Two runners up will win $100 shopping sprees.
To enter, read the official rules and mail your name, address, phone number and email address by Jan. 31, 2000 to: NAPPA Sweepstakes, 443 E. Irving Dr., Ste. D, Burbank, CA 91504 or enter at the customer service counter of The Right Start Store. To find the location nearest you, visit The Right Start's online store locator at www.rightstart.com.
What makes a good book for children? It's almost easier to say what makes a bad one: Weak writing. Amateurish art or design. Too much preaching. Plot lines that have been done to death. Books that fail to ring some primary emotional chord. Stories that are secretly about adults and adult concerns.
Enough negativity! Here, then, are just the opposite: this year's best books. Each offers something fresh and valuable, whether it be stunning graphics, an original theme, subtle wisdom, or a genuine emotional response you just can't wait to share with a child heading into a new millennium.
Little dog George surprises everyone by the funny sounds he makes. What makes him finally bark is a surprise to everyone. Clever and in striking colors. HarperCollins; ages 2 to 6; $14.95. (212) 207-7491.
Harry the dog goes shopping with Grandpa (the dog), and they lose each other in the profusion of the supermarket. Lots of detail and a friendly spirit--a happy, low-key read-together. Peachtree Publishers; ages 2 to 6; $12.95. (404) 876-8761.
A never-before-published book by the author of Goodnight Moon? All about the stages of development between ages 1 and 6? With eloquent drawings? How important! HarperCollins; ages 4 to 8; $15.95. (212) 207-7491.
Books for the very young on emotions are rare, but the stars here are the fruits and vegetables. All those who play with their food will find this irresistibly clever. Scholastic; ages 4 to 8; $15.95. (212) 343-7708.
This inspirational book is a detailed account--complete with dramatic photos, lots of background, and a "where-is-she-now" update--of what happened in 1960 when a 6-year-old child integrated an all-white school in New Orleans. Scholastic; ages 8 to 12; $16.95. (212) 343-7708.
In this large-format book in which great paintings are scrutinized in detail with both care and imagination, provocative questions lead children and adults to see more than they'd ever imagine. Dorling Kindersley; ages 5 to 12; $16.95. (212) 213-4800.
DK Guide to Space:
A Photographic Journey Through the Universe
Using the newest photos from the Hubble telescope, this photographic journey through the universe features stunning views of comets, asteroids, planets and our own beautiful Earth. Dorling Kindersley; ages 9 and older; $19.95. (212) 213-4800.
There's not much out there for kids on this confusing and painful topic, and this unassuming guide is quite well-done. The main theme: talk. The only flaw in this useful little paperback is that no boy will touch it. Pleasant Company; ages 8 and up; $8.95. (608) 836-4848.
Angels Ride Bikes and Other Fall Poems/Los Angeles Andan en Bicicleta
Going to the market in the evening, buying popsicles, going off to school, heading for the dentist, observing the smog and experiencing an earthquake--daily life in Los Angeles is celebrated in bilingual poems, and in paintings as bold and extroverted as the great multicultural city itself. Children's Book Press; ages 6 to 12; $15.95. (415) 995-2200.
Twelve Lizards Leaping:
A New Twelve Days of Christmas,
A colorful Southwestern motif injects new life into the traditional carol by way of tamales, piñatas, turquoise rings--and a charming quail in a paloverde tree. Rising Moon; ages 4 to 8; $14.95. (800) 346-3257.