Friday, October 29, 2010

Two for tea, and toys in twos

The best run of holiday fun has begun! Halloween is this weekend (look for half price Halloween merchandise Saturday and Sunday, excluding books and costumes), stuffed (plush, that is) turkeys abound, and the Christmas and Hannukah books already have their own section in our picture books. Now is the perfect time to get out those wish lists and start matching the perfect toy to all the kids (and kid loving grown-ups) on your list.

My first pair of presents is something I am eyeing for myself! This tiny unabridged edition of two my favorite books will add style to my Lewis Carroll collection: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass from Collector's Library, with original Tenniel illustrations. Once your Alice fan recovers from the gold-edged pages and perfectly replicated Tenniel drawings, let them open the Alice in Wonderland Mug from Unemployed Philosopher's Guild (best toy company name, hands down!). When you pour your hot beverage of choice into the mug, the Cheshire Cat disappears...leaving behind its grin!

For the auto enthusiast (like my six year old nephew, still a vehicle fanatic), I'd recommend the Fast Wheels Art Set from Italian toy company Carioca. This activity kit comes with 20 fine tip markers and heavy cardboard cut-outs of cars to color, with sturdy wheels to attach for racing. Pair it with The Modern Storybook by Wallace Wadsworth, illustrated by Caroline Ruth Eger. This Dover Publications reprint from 1931 is a collection of stories about personified vehicles, which comes with a CD recording of every story. My favorite is the "Runaway Elevator", in which an elevator and truck trade jobs for a day.

While I'm thinking of my own shopping list, which includes some serious Star Wars fans, we have plenty of new books and merchandise from George Lucas and co. My top pick is Star Wars Visions, as edited by Acme Achive, a coffee table style book full of various artists' interpretations of Star Wars characters and famous scenes. I wish I had a print of Kermit the Frog and Yoda by artist Peter de Seve. Pair this with Chronicle Book's Yoda figurine: the figure comes with a display stand, stickers, and a book of wisdom.

For the creative teen on your list, try Storyworld, a create-a-story-kit by John and Caitlin Matthews. These tarot-like cards have rich, intricate illustrations with prompt questions on the back, to inspire any kind of artist or writer. Pair it with Robin McKinley's newest novel, Pegasus, a atmospheric fantasy about a princess and the pegasus she is bonded to, or Patrick Ness's Monsters of Men, the concluding book in his dystopian Chaos Walking series.

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