From babies to tea, creativity and spirituality, booksellers looking for fresh sources for innovative journals are in luck.
What to expect... in a baby journal. Want to keep track of baby's arrival and early years but don't want the typical mass-produced, fill-in-the-blanks baby book (or the high-tech but ephemeral online photo service)? InScribe Publishing has a unique solution: babEbook, a new service that lets parents create totally personalized, custom-published baby journals (the completed babEbook combines a hardcover book and accompanying CD-ROM). BabEbook eliminates gaps, cross-outs and guilt. The online interface (www.babEbook.com) lets parents choose from hundreds of suggested topics ranging from pregnancy to preschool. They add only those questions that fit their family's experiences (a single mom, for example, doesn't have to rip out "Dad's Story") and can edit the suggested topics or create their own. Tracking children's milestones and memories becomes easier, and more fun, for busy parents.
Sold in the form of gift packages, babEbook kits include everything needed to create a fully customized baby journal, including the online service, multimedia storage space and production of the hardcover book and CD-ROM. Each package includes 18 months of unlimited access to the online service, 15MB multimedia storage space (for photos, audio files and, soon, video), and a 53-page custom-published hardcover book in a keepsake gift box. Four sophisticated design themes are available (happily without cutesy animals or famous mice). More flexible than traditional baby books, less complicated (and less costly) than scrapbooking, babEbooks are especially attuned to the needs of today's families. The beautifully designed, easy-to-use Web site and service make this an enticing gift for computer-friendly new parents (or grandparents) who want a traditional memento with a twist. Call (866) 662-2665, e-mail erin@babEbook.com.
When baby is ready for his or her own journal, Peaceable Kingdom, of Berkeley, Calif., has just the ticket. Featuring bold images of such favorite characters as The Cat in the Hat, Maurice Sendak's Wild Things, Curious George, Madeline, and more, these 6" x 8" perfect-bound lined books with colorful end papers are irresistible. Whether literally scribbling early alphabets or composing Proustian memoirs, these utterly engaging journals appeal to young and old. For those difficult 'tween years when children's classics may be too close for comfort, there are a delicate Fairy by artist Stephen Mackey and a hip Café Girl by Divya Srinivasan. Quite possibly the perfect teacher's gift. Call (800) 444-7778, fax (510) 558-2052, www.pkpress.com.
Andrews McMeel Publishing, of Kansas City, Mo., offers help for full-grown folks who want to reawaken their inner child—or childlike imagination and inspiration. Organized by season and month, A Year of Creativity is an attractive and thoughtful interactive workbook loaded with guided exercises and practical techniques to stimulate and develop the creative inner self. Each of its dozen Creative Paths contains short sections for contemplation, a questionnaire for self-examination, and a series of creative exercises. Imaginatively designed and pleasingly illustrated with Chinese fabric prints, A Year of Creativity offers a better-than-average workshop on reinvigorating our originality. It's written by Brenda Mallon, a practicing psychotherapist and international expert on creativity, dreams and healing.
The companion volume, A Year of Spirituality, reveals practical ways to explore the spiritual aspects of life. Using myths, rituals, practices and beliefs from a multitude of eras and cultures, spiritual healer and author Ingrid Collins guides the reader on a journey that illuminates each season's sacred energy and meaning. Through simple meditations, visualizations, reflections and stories, Collins uses the changing seasons to show how spiritual practice and thought can flow through ordinary life. Collins is a member of the British Holistic Medicine Center in London and a regular contributor to Here's Health magazine. Call (816) 932-6700, www.AndrewsMcMeel.com.
In need of nourishment of a more substantive nature? Tourists and armchair travelers alike will find absorbing reading in the renowned Tea Council's Guide to the Best Tea Places in England, now published for the first time in the United States by The Little Bookroom in New York City. Although thousands of establishments serve the 165 million cups of tea consumed in England each day, only 100 have been judged worthy of membership in the prestigious Tea Guild. Visited throughout the year by the council's incognito team of inspectors, the Best Tea Places are held to the highest standards, including the use of fresh local ingredients in fare reflecting regional traditions as well as high-quality tea, all served in exceptionally lovely settings—Georgian mansions, old mills, historic houses, formal gardens, thatched cottages. Entries share local teatime traditions, relate colorful stories behind each region's recipes and highlight sightseeing points of interest. Enjoy huffkins from Kent, cherry bumpers from Sussex and fat rascals from the northeastern ports. A new travel essential. Maps, hours and a tea primer included. Call (212) 293-1643, fax (333) 5374, e-mail email@example.com.