A host of titles would be welcome presents this gift-giving season. My Little Yellow Taxi by Stephen T. Johnson follows the format of his very successful My Little Red Toolbox . Narrated by the cab driver, this informative book boasts sturdy pages from which youngsters can lift the taxi's hood to check the oil, open the glove compartment to peruse the snacks and, best of all, change the sign to "off duty." A clock at the bottom of the page keeps track of the taxi's meter. (Harcourt/Red Wagon, $19.95 14p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-15-216465-0; Oct.)

A handbook for those hooked on the legendary creatures, How to Raise and Keep a Dragon by John Topsell sports a winged dragon with sparkling ruby eyes peering out from a padded cover. Beginning with the searching question, "Should I Own a Dragon?" ("Deciding whether to acquire a dragon is one of the most important choices you'll ever make," the book opens), and proceeding to chapters with instructions on how to raise one, this guide for dragon owners brims with scientific-quality drawings, a genealogy of dragon breeds and even instructions on how to ride sky dragons. Dog owners will most appreciate the humor in the section on "Showing your dragon" and "What judges look for." (Barron's, $18.99 128p all ages ISBN 0-7641-5920-8; Oct.)

Five pop-up spreads reveal a quintet of classic tales in Dragons: A Pop-Up Book of Fantastic Adventures by Keith Moseley and M.P. Robertson. An airborne dragon bursts from the spread of the classic "Saint George and the Dragon," as does the winding tail of the title heroine from the lesser known "The Sea Dragon Princess," set in ancient Japan. (Abrams, $15.95 10p ages 4-up ISBN 0-8109-4900-8; Oct.)

Speaking of princesses,... how better to emulate a royal than with the elegant scrapbook-like A Princess Primer: A Fairy Godmother's Guide to Being a Princess by Stephanie True Peters, illus. by Bernhard Oberdieck and Denis Gordeev. Beginning with a secret code, hidden behind a flap on the endpapers, this predominantly pink volume offers sample fabrics to touch, mix-and-match wardrobes to try, and a palace with secret flaps offering cutaway views of everything from the throne room to the servants' quarters. And don't forget magic: spells, enchantments and fairies also pepper the pages, capped off with a royal wedding. (Dutton, $19.99 32p ages 4-up ISBN 0-525-47765-9; Oct.)

The Secret World of Unicorns by Pat Perrin comes with a quartet of unicorn figurines, stowed in a transparent pocket of the front cover. The accompanying book, with photorealistic artwork, shows a map of unicorn habitats, lists their types (e.g., "earth unicorns" and "air unicorns"), instructs youngsters on how to make contact with unicorns and recounts several stories of the mythical creatures. (Silver Dolphin, $18.95 36p ages 8-up ISBN 1-59223-369-4; Sept.)

For those more interested in giving than receiving, A Kid's Guide to Giving by Freddi Zeiler comes in a clever package: the spiral-bound book's outer covering closes with a magnetic foldover flap, and a pocket inside the front cover doubles as a handy place to tuck notes. This book guides readers on how to decide what cause to support, the different types of causes (environmental, animal welfare, etc.), how to research the best way to help and places to jot notes. The book suggests simple ways to save for a donation: "Give up something small. Say you buy sodas from the machine at school a couple of times a week. Can you live without them? Sure you can!" An empowering and inspiring book. (Innovative Kids, $9.99 208p ages 12-up ISBN 1-58476-489-9; Oct.)

Picture Books

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire Diane deGroat. Chronicle, $6.95 ISBN 0-8118-5453-1. When Gilbert is cast as George Washington in the school play, he takes the maxim "I cannot tell a lie," a little too far. According to PW, "This sprightly story delivers a clear moral in a gentle voice." Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

From Dawn till Dusk Natalie Kinsey-Warnock, illus. by Mary Azarian. Houghton, $6.95 ISBN 0-618-73750-2. The activities on a sugaring farm convey a sense of family and communal togetherness. "The author and artist remain on this side of nostalgia by grounding the story in a great deal of specific details about farming and the rhythms of nature," said PW. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

T. Rex Vivian French, illus. by Alison Bartlett. Candlewick, $6.99 ISBN 0-7636-3177-9. PW wrote in a starred review, "This brief tale simply and succinctly sums up how much is still unknowable in the scientific world, while also acknowledging how much can be proven through study." Ages 5-8. (Sept.)