Interactive on the Go

Several series provide instruction booklets and kits in clever pint-size activity packages. A quartet of titles from Tangerine Press offers materials to make 17 Micro Fliers by Daniel Graham, illus. by Mike Saiz; provides a set of 32 chess pieces and a printed chessboard in Chess Master by Paul Callick, illus. by Martin Teviotdale; includes a special deck of cards for 16 Card Tricks by Gordon Hill and Jackie Andrews, photography by Stillview; and contains enough materials for 18 Magic Tricks by Hill, photography by Stillview. (Scholastic/Tangerine, $7.95 each 48p ages 6-8 ISBN 0-439-21926-4; -21927-2; -22014-9; -22012-2; June)

Two Smackers titles in the same format, by Holly Kowitt, illus. by Christine Athens-Livingston and copublished with Bonne Bell, suggest activities for a hot day with protective lip balm, clip-on key ring and two hair ties in Sun Fun; and party themes, activities and a few surprises in Party Time. (Scholastic, $7.99 each 48p ages 6-12 ISBN 0-439-27190-8; -27594-6; June)

Finally, the Pocket Pals series offers four kits, written by Fran Pickering, each containing four books, an ID card, a chart to fill in, stickers, a bookmark, a board game and one last item unique to each kit. Creepy Crawlies includes a "creepy toy" that glows in the dark; Super Science offers tips and experiments to try; Mighty Magic includes a tiny pack of cards;and a mini "super spy" magnifying glass is found in Secret Agent. (Big Fish [Sterling, dist.], $6.95 each ages 7-12 ISBN 0-8069-5599-6; -5585-6; -5577-5; -2111-0; Aug.)

Summer Fun

Beach-goers will have a new appreciation for the surfside after reading Let's Go to the Beach: A History of Sun and Fun by the Sea by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk. From historical tidbits ("During the Roman conquest of Great Britain, swimming was featured in most military campaigns") to fashion facts (such as swimwear designs included in the chapter "From Bloomers to Bikinis"), the b&w photographs (e.g., 1903 Luna Park, Coney Island, and rolling chairs on the boardwalk of Atlantic City in the 1930s) and text chronicle recreational activities through the ages. (Holt, $18.95 144p ages 9-15 ISBN 0-8050-6235-1; July)

Roxie Munro uses eye-popping artwork to lead readers on a drive to the zoo in Mazescapes. Children are invited to navigate through aerial mazes with any of six punch-out cars; each maze connects to the one on the following page. Along the way, kids can play five additional games (e.g., the "ABC travel game," counting bicycles and school buses). Munro's signature style guides drivers through small towns, bustling cities and finally to the zoo, and she encourages them to take an alternate route home. (North-South/SeaStar, $16.95 36p ages 6-9 ISBN 1-58717-060-4; Aug.)

Hours of Entertainment

Lynn Gordon moves from her 52-activity card collections to a colorful, corrugated mini-briefcase with 52 Art Activity Kit, illus. by Karen Johnson. A spiral-bound book pairs creative ideas such as "Paper Bag Pet," "Homemade Chalk" and "Flip Book" with a blank page, opposite, for artists to sketch their ideas. The kit also includes six crayons, a glue stick, a pair of scissors, a stencil sheet with ruler and over 50 stickers. (Chronicle, $14.95 128p ages 5-12 ISBN 0-8118-2885-9; July)

Colorful illustrations and photos accompany step-by-step directions in two spiral-bound entries in the Paper Magic series. Paper Tricks by Alan Folder, illus. by Maureen Galvani, shows aspiring tricksters how to do basic tricks like "Snapper" as well as more advanced models such as "Jumping Frog." In Paper Dinosaurs by the same team, a model for the simpler "Elasmosaurus" leads the way to the more advanced "Dimetrodon." Both volumes provide dividers that indicate level of difficulty, three pocket folders to store creations and 16 vibrant printed papers to fold. (Scholastic/Tangerine, $7.95 each 48p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-439-26034-5; -22762-3; June)

Midnight Fairy Craft & Party Book by Tracy Marsh lists all the ingredients necessary to throw a magical party. The first two chapters give instructions for how to make the Midnight Fairy Doll and her accessories, including the castle in which she lives. The remaining chapters are devoted to the party. For example, party planners can photocopy a sample invitation and teach their guests "Musical Toadstools," included in "Games and Activities." (Sterling, $19.95 144p ages 7-11 ISBN 0-8069-4319-X; July) Aspiring ship captains can fold 18 boats (all on waterproof paper) and float them with The Amazing Book of Paper Boats by Jerry Roberts, illus. by Willy Bullock. After a brief history of boats and assembly tips and techniques, the work begins. Starting with the simple Bark Canoe, boat fans then progress to the Aircraft Carrier and finish with the most complex, the Mississippi Paddle Wheeler. Additional information is given for each boat along with detailed instructions and diagrams. (Chronicle/Melcher Media, $18.95 paper 128p ages 10-up ISBN 0-8118-2939-1; June)

I Can Read!

Three series aimed at beginning readers will gear children up for fall. The Now I'm Reading! series offers two titles by Nora Gaydos, illus. by B.B. Sams, focusing on phonics, each in a brightly colored corrugated binder with a magnetic closure. Animal Antics covers short-vowel sounds for "level one" readers; Amazing Animals highlights long-vowel sounds for "level two" readers. A Parent Guide bound into the left side of the binder offers tips and includes 40 stickers for rewarding successful readers; on the right, 10 numbered 12-page stories fit into transparent sleeves. Each story concludes with a set of questions for "After You Read" plus the skills taught in the tale. (innovative Kids, $14.99 each ages 4-7 ISBN 1-5847-6073-7; -6074-5; July)

Candlewick adds to its Brand New Readers series with Piggy and Dad by David Martin, illus. by Frank Remkiewicz; The Rosa Stories by Sheila White Samton; and Wow, It's Worm! by Kathy Caple. Each consists of a slipcase that includes four paperback eight-page story books with minimal text on each colorful spread. (Candlewick, $4.99 each ages 4-7 Piggy ISBN 0-7636-1327-4; Rosa -1121-2; Worm -1153-0; June)

And Mercer Mayer's Little Critter stars in six new additions to McGraw-Hill's First Readers series: in level 1 (PreK-K), Play Ball and Snow Day; level 2 (K-1) The Mixed-Up Morning and A Yummy Lunch; level 3 (grades 1-2), Surprise! and Our Friend Sam. Each book begins with a note to parents explaining the reading levels and offering guidance, then concludes with a word list, quiz and other skill practice. (McGraw-Hill, $3.95 paper each 24p ages 5-8 Play Ball ISBN 1-57768-803-1; Snow -805-8; Morning-808-2; Yummy -809-9; Surprise! -814-7; Sam -815-5; June)