Baby Einstein Hits the Books

Julie Aigner-Clark capitalizes on her bestselling concept as she moves from videos to board books, prepping preschoolers for the Ivy League. Language Nursery teaches eight phrases such as "Hello, duck," and "I love you, lamb" in Spanish, French, Japanese and Hebrew. Color-coded text differentiates the languages; the pronunciation is included after each. Neighborhood Animals, illus. by Nadeem Zaidi features creatures and provides facts. Also available: See and Spy Counting and See and Spy Shapes. (Hyperion, $5.99 each 16p ages 6mos.-4yrs. ISBN 0-7868-0810-1; -0806-3; -0808-X; -0809-8; Oct.)

Colorful die-cut tabs on the side of Van Gogh's World of Color correlate to actual artwork from the painter and invite youngsters to study color concepts. Critical questions and quotes appear on each spread. "Orange," for example, shows the painting Fourteen Sunflowers in a Vase and asks "Why do you think these flowers are called sunflowers?" The tabbed pages of Poems for Little Ones link familiar objects with the works of famous poets. "Grass" places an excerpt from Tennessee Williams's "Heavenly Grass" alongside a photograph of sunlight warming thick blades. Below, text questions "How do you think this grass would feel under your bare feet?" and implores readers to "think of words that rhyme with 'grass.' " (Hyperion, $7.99 each 12p ages 6mos.-4yrs. ISBN 0-7868-0805-5; -0807-1; Oct.)

Math Matters

Kids can count the creatures mounting mayhem in Bernard Lodge's How Scary! In the beginning, "one Growling Giant" chases a pair of frightened children. A turn of the page finds "two Dreadful Dragons" breathing down the giants' necks then "three Snapping Sharks" about to have the dragons for dinner. The last spread reveals a not-so-scary surprise. (Houghton, $15 32p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-618-11547-1; Sept.)

Children are invited to join Timothy, Yoko and their classmates as they practice math skills in Adding It Up, the latest addition to the Get Set for Kindergarten! series, based on Timothy Goes to School and other stories by Rosemary Wells. Adding, subtracting and counting to 20 are covered—so are shapes and patterns—as the students in Mrs. Jenkins's class make use of mathematics in real-life situations. Each section offers suggestions for extending each concept. Ready to Read helps youngsters learn letter/sound correlation plus capital and lower case letters. (Viking, $13.99 each 24p ages 3-up ISBN 0-670-03519-X; -03518-1; Puffin, $5.99 each paper ISBN 0-14-230040-3; -230039-X; Oct.)

Anna Nilsen's I Can Multiply uses colorful cartoon-style visuals to teach basic mathematical concepts. However, in Pack 3, designed to teach patterns and number sequences, young learners may be confused when the author attempts to use four-legged pigs to teach counting by two's. Permanently attached to the spiral binding, the first two sets of flip cards place pictures that provide answers on the backs of each equation. Perky graphics and the nifty Velcro-sealed cover make this a fun supplement for adults and children to share at home. (Kingfisher, $9.95 26p ages 5-up ISBN 0-7534-5414-9; Sept.)

Papa Pig calls the moves in Amy Axelrod's Pigs in the Corner: Fun With Math and Dance, illus. by Sharon McGinley-Nally, the eighth title in the Pigs Will Be Pigs math series. Square-dancing sows and their "gents" teach "spatial sense and direction." A note in the front advises readers how to best use the book; a "Beginners Square Dancing Dictionary" in the back defines the basics. (S&S, $14 40p ages 4-9 ISBN 0-689-82470-X; Sept.)

Real-World Math for Hands-On Fun! by Cindy Littlefield teaches miraculous math tricks such as determining how close a storm is by timing the interval between claps of thunder and how to decipher U.S. ZIP codes. Innovative math-based craft projects and mathematical trivia make for a book teachers and curious kids can count on. (Williamson, $12.95 paper 128p ages 7-14 ISBN 1-885593-51-1; Sept.)

Quiz Kids

Puzzle lovers can test their mettle with Quiz Master Mind Benders. Designed for two or more players, participants answer questions based on visual clues in categories like "people," "places," "numbers" and "pot luck." Quiz cards come in three different levels (points are awarded accordingly); the illustration faces the interrogated, the answers face the interrogator. Quiz Master Eye Teasers, with similar categories, is also available. (Big Fish [Sterling, dist.], $8.95 each paper ages 8-up ISBN 0-8069-7989-5; -7991-7; Sept.)

Children will also be challenged by Mensa Brain Bafflers for Kids. The 75 mind-bending puzzles, each printed on a sturdy multi-colored card, come packaged in a reusable box. Sleek graphics add visual appeal. Mensa Secret Codes for Kids comes with a foldout "Spy School" and 75 messages waiting to be deciphered. (Chronicle, $8.95 each ages 7-13 ISBN 0-8118-3080-2; -3079-9; Sept.)

They're Back!

Originally introduced in Meet the Barkers, canines Morgan and Moffat return in Tomie dePaola's Boss for a Day. In this addition to the All Aboard Reading series, dePaola's pooches try trading places. In Hide-and-Seek All Week, endless haggling keeps the game from going forward. (Grosset & Dunlap, $3.99 each paper 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-448-42544-0; -42545-9; Oct.)

The stars of Warthogs in the Kitchen team up again in Slop Goes the Soup: A Noisy Warthog Word Book by Pamela Duncan Edwards, illus. by Henry Cole. The author uses onomatopoeia to demonstrate how a simple sneeze sets off a messy chain of events for a pair of dinner-prepping warthogs. A note in the back explains onomatopoeia and challenges children to create their own noisy story. (Hyperion, $14.99 32p ages 2-6 ISBN 0-7868-0469-6; Sept.)

Steven Kellogg's irrepressible pooch returns in A Penguin Pup for Pinkerton. This time around, Pinkerton mistakes a football for a penguin egg when his owner, Emily, reports all she's learned about the animals and their young. But chaos follows when Pinkerton loses track of his baby. (Dial, $15.99 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-8037-2536-1; Sept.)

Jean Eckman Adams returns to the range with Clarence and the Great Surprise. In this follow-up to Clarence Goes Out West and Meets a Purple Horse, Smokey (the horse) leads Clarence (the pig) on a desert adventure. But the search for the "great surprise" is sidelined when their new-found friend, a dancing dog, goes missing. (Rising Moon, $15.95 32p ages 5-8 ISBN 0-87358-795-2; Sept.)

With the simplest of rhyming texts and evocative illustrations, Durga Bernhard's To & Fro Fast & Slow, a companion volume to Earth, Sky, Wet, Dry, tells the story of a child living in two worlds. The contrasts emerge through split illustrations; on the top of one page, for instance, the children travel "south" through grassy pastures and, on the bottom, "north" amidst teeming city streets. On a split spread, the girl goes "back & forth" between mom's garden and, opposite, dad's brownstone, teaching a lesson not only about language but life as well. (Walker, $15.95 32p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-8027-8782-7; Oct.)

Last year, Virginia Walton Pilegard's The Warlord's Puzzle explained the origins of the tangram. Now, detailing a boy's attempts to count the warlord's treasure, she investigates another mathematical invention, the abacus, in The Warlord's Beads, illus. by Nicolas Debon. A historical note traces the tool to 14th-century China; instructions for making your own abacus are included. (Pelican, $14.95 32p ages 5-8 ISBN 1-56554-863-9; Sept.)

In Jake Drake: Teacher's Pet by Andrew Clements, the third title in this series about an earnest and likable third-grader, Jake's attempts to turn his goody-two-shoes reputation around are aided by the least likely suspects. B&w illustrations by Dolores Avendaño liven up the proceedings. (S&S, $15 80p ages 7-10 ISBN 0-689-83919-7; Nov.)

The characters introduced in Project Wheels and Egg-Drop Blues return in Jacqueline Turner Banks's A Day for Vincent Chin and Me. This time, sixth-grader Tommy narrates the events as his mother organizes the Asian-American community to draw attention to the death of the Chinese-American man whom his murderers blamed for Detroit's declining car sales and soaring unemployment. (Houghton, $15 112p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-618-13199-X; Oct.)

Through magic-marker musings and diary-like confessions, readers get a further glimpse into the wacky world of 12-year-old Alexandra as she waxes poetic about school, siblings and planting a kiss on Max, "the most adorable boy in school" in Karen Salmansohn's Alexandra Rambles On! Book #2: Oh, and Another Thing. (Tricycle, $12.95 70p ages 9-12 ISBN 1-58246-045-0; Nov.)

Teenage Girl Guides

Real-world stories, reflections written by now-grown women, chronicle such subjects as body image, sexuality, mental instability and incest in Nerves Out Loud: Critical Moments in the Lives of Seven Teen Girls, edited by Susan Musgrave (who also pens one of the selections). A powerful look back by women who made it through. (Annick [Firefly, dist.], $19.95 112p ages 14-up ISBN 1-55037-693-4; $9.95 paper -692-6; Oct.)

Author Julia DeVillers interviews over 150 adolescents in Teen Girlfriends: Celebrating the Good Times, Getting Through the Hard Times. The result: an honest look at friendship told by teens themselves. Sections such as "Exploring Friendship," "Cementing the Bonds" and "Growing Together" create a broad view of this pivotal bond of adolescence. (Wild Canyon Press, $13.95 paper 224p ages 12-up ISBN 1-885171-52-8; Oct.)

In The Girls' Book of Friendship: Cool Quotes, True Stories, Secrets, and More edited by Catherine Dee, women as diverse as Madonna, Helen Keller and hospital coordinator Wini Scott weigh in on what it takes to make and keep friends. An inspiring collection. (Little, Brown/Tingley, $8.95 paper 208p ages 10-up ISBN 0-316-16818-1; Sept.)

"Super" Clea Hantman and Keva Marie unleash Hey, Day! Super-Amazing, Funk-Da-Crazing, Ultra-Glazing Things to Do, Make and Ponder Every Day of the Year. This daybook for feisty females offers inspirational wisdom and tips on everything from making your own business cards to removing stains and hosting a slumber party. Campy good fun in scrapbook style. (HarperTrophy, $14.95 paper 384p ages 10-up ISBN 0-06-446241-2; Sept.)

In 5 Ways to Know About You, author Karen Gravelle explains astrology, palm reading, numerology, Chinese horoscopes and handwriting analysis. Worksheets help readers learn more about themselves. Mary Lynn Blasutta's funky b&w illustrations add sass. Though the subjects are not gender-specific the design is clearly geared towards girls. (Walker, $16.95 176p ages 9-14 ISBN 0-8027-8749-5; $10.95 paper -7586-1; Sept.)