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Reviews of Usborne Books

Last modified: July 5, 2006

KidsLikeOurs.com, October 2001

Calligraphy Kid Kit

Description The art of beautiful writing is easy to learn with the 48-page book, conveniently paired with three Speedball Elegant Writer calligraphy markers in red, black and blue. With broad, medium and scroll points, the markers provide beginners and experts alike with the necessary tools to produce a variety of unusual calligraphic works.
Our View I remember in my ninth grade year taking a semester long class where I learned the art of calligraphy. I remember how just getting the right nib on the pen could be such a chore and dealing with all of the ink could be messy. That is why I really like this kit. It comes with pens that are easy to use and not messy!

The book does go into detail about using nibs and pens (for a more professional look) but it also shows you how to do calligraphy using crayons, felt, or paintbrushes.

It gives great step-by-step instruction on how to create each letter (with many different alphabets to copy). It also gives you instruction on how to design your own alphabet, emboss letters, and best layout each piece of calligraphy (that is my favorite section).

All in all a fun kit that any pre-teen/teen should enjoy. There is even a section on careers in calligraphy for those who really enjoy it.

KidsLikeOurs.com, October 2001

Science Encyclopedia

Description You will find the whole field of science from physics, chemistry, biology, information technology, Earth sciences and astronomy to new fields such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology, telecommunications and the preservation of planet Earth including: Clear explanations of over 2,500 scientific terms -- Over 1,500 illustrations and diagrams -- Over 140 experiments, activities and observations to carry out -- A quick reference dictionary defining over 1,500 scientific terms -- Test-yourself revision aids
Our View I'll be the first to admit, when it comes to science I have never made the grade. I remember staying after school to get help from the teacher and it did no good. I just couldn't quite seem to get any of the information to stick.

That is why I was excited about receiving this book. Not only do my children now have a first rate book that will help them expand on any learning they might be doing at school but I also now have a second chance to learn as a adult all of the things I could not quite understand as a child.

With over 400 pages this book is sure to cover every scientific area that your child might have a question about. My daughter (age 13) showed me a part of the book that covered what her 8th grade class was just starting to learn about while my son (age 10) showed me pages of what they had just learned about in his class.

I have found that this book is not only very well organized but it is also packed will illustrations, photos, and easy to understand information. And as if that is not enough each mini-section (about every two pages) has a box in the lower right hand corner that has some fantastic places to go on the internet where your child (or you) can learn more about the subject. I have book-marked some of them too.

Also in the back of the book is a big glossary of scientific terms and an index for quick look up, as well as many quick facts and dates, but my favorite things are the many review questions (complete with multiple choice answers and the page number to find the answer). They really make it easy to see how much you are learning and are easy to use for homeschoolers.
Bottom Line An absolute MUST BUY for homeschoolers or anyone with children aged 9 and above.

KidsLikeOurs.com, October 2001

Wallop & Whizz and the Bottle of Fizz

Description It all began at frantic speed,
The wizards grabbed the things they'd need.
Each one was sure his spell would be,
The winning magic recipe.

Find out what happens when feuding wizards, Wallop and Whizz, create the everlasting 'Fizz' in their attempts to win the annual wizards' competition. Philip Hawthorn's hilarious narrative verse is both inventive and easy to read, and is matched in wit and vitality by Kim Blundell's wickedly delightful illustrations. A must for literary hour.
Our View Brandon (10) and I read this together one night and I have to say that this book is just right for his age group.

It is about as gross, gory, and just plain goofy as you can get. It has magicians, goofy townspeople, a mean king, a nice princess and a goofy story.

Let's face it, sometimes kids just like a silly book to read and this will do the job.

All of the illustrations are fun to look at and do a great job at depicting the story.
Bottom Line If your kids like Captain Underpants then they will like this book.

Connect, September/October 2001 - Issue's Focus: Bird Studies


Listed in this issue in the "Resource Reviews".

Children's Literature, September 2001, Volume 9, Number 9


This sixty-three page book is very impressive. Usborne has done a fine job in giving the reader a compendium of facts about our feathered friends, the birds of the world. The information presented is so extensive it is mind-boggling. Color photos and illustrations give the book a special appeal. Whether you read the book straight through or read a few pages and then try an Internet link, you will learn some new piece of information about the birds. One web link allows you the hear various bird songs, other links allow you to visit with people around the world about bird migration. The combination of print format and web links is nicely accomplished and brings a wide variety of birds and their habits to the reader's attention. A must read for the birder in your house.

-Reviewer: Barbara Youngblood

KidsLikeOurs.com, September 2001

Find the Puppy Kid Kit

Description Here is Puppy in his bed. Now he's ready to be fed.
A fun little story that shows puppy in and around the kitchen. Your toddler will enjoy finding the puppy on each page.

Stephen Cartwright's charming characters come to life in these five cute Kid Kits. The pictures in these delightful board books show a duck, teddy, puppy, kitten or piglet hidden in everyday environments. The books have been specially devised to provide the very young with the challenge of something to look for and familiar objects to name. The plush pile puppets help act out each scene and will provide hours of enjoyment for very young children. There is one sentence per page.
Our View Eric has a fun time finding (and pointing out) the puppy as we read. He kept pointing to it and saying "He's sooo cute, but he's dirty mommy!" (because of the ring around his eye).

He LOVES when I make the stuffed puppy (that came with the kit) walk up his arm or play peek-a-boo.
Bottom Line A cute puppy and a fun book that is just right for babies and toddlers.

KidsLikeOurs.com, September 2001

Book of Peoples of the World

Description In this Internet-linked book you will find a wide-ranging exploration of the cultures, beliefs, homes, jobs, traditions and everyday lives of the six billion people who inhabit our planet. This book will take you on a continent-by-continent journey through remote rainforest villages, vibrant cities, noisy carnivals, and bustling shanty towns, looking at: national festivals, customs and traditions; religious beliefs and rituals; where people live and what their homes look like; the food people eat and the clothes they wear; how people travel; and how governments work.
Our View I feel no need to beat around the bush. Let's face it we are living in an increasingly me oriented world. The phrase "What about me?" echoes throughout the land and children can easily begin to think that what they want and how they live is the only thing that matters.

That is why I love books such as this one. It shows children that there are other things in this world besides Nintendo and cartoons. It also shows them that while there are huge differences in how people live there is a commonality that runs though every community. We all eat, play, and have a home like they do and that I think is good for kids to see.

Brandon(10) and Megan (13) both like this book. The words "Wow look at this" or "this is cool" floated through the air as they read through it. They both really liked reading about the "worry dolls" that children in Central America make. Brandon thought the Statue of Christ in Brazil was awesome.

I have really learned a lot from this book and have really enjoyed looking at all of the photos.
Overall impression A great way to give kids (or adults) an overview of the world we live in.

Cleveland/Akron Family, "Batteries not included: books about technology",  September 2001

Science Encyclopedia

Harness the power of the Internet with this hefty volume from a new generation of reference books whose entries are enhanced with numerous website links (in this case, literally a thousand). Learners can easily delve more deeply into a variety of scientific subjects including physical science, chemistry, botany and anatomy.

The 448-page book is divided into nine chapters to help readers hone in on exactly what they're looking for. Each chapter is further broken down into two-page spreads that succinctly summarize the important facts on a particular topic with descriptions of two to five websites providing even more information.

Students have direct access to all the links in the book through the publisher's website. A boon for report writers: many of the book's full-color illustrations can be downloaded at no cost to jazz up the most ho-hum of term papers. [Hint: Check our the last chapter for helpful lists and charts.]

Calliope, September 2001

Make This Model Egyptian Mummy

Make This Model Egyptian Mummy was one of the books featured under resources in the article "The Pyramids and Egypt's Old Kingdom."

KidsLikeOurs.com, September 2001


Description Using the latest theories and most recent discoveries, this book brings to life the exciting world of dinosaurs. Dramatic artwork and photographs of realistic models show what dinosaurs were like, how they lived, and why and how they all died out. Lively step-by-step illustrations explain how they hunted, fed and cared for their young.
Our View When Brandon (10) saw this book for the first time he asked excitedly "Wow! Whose is that?" I said that it was his and he scooped it up in his arms and said "Oh yeah! It's mine!" and ran off to read it.

That surprised me because although I knew his younger brother Eric (3) loves dinos, I had no idea that dinosaurs had made a comeback with the older boys (I guess a recent movie is why). Anyway Brandon has really enjoyed sharing all of the information that he has learned with his friends and me.

Eric also loves looking through the book (some illustrations he is too young for though).

I have to say I was amazed at how real the photos looked. Sometimes I had to remind myself that they were just models.

The information in this book was very thorough and includes not only information about all the different dinosaur types but also about dino DNA, Today's dinosaurs, the latest discoveries and more (including a great chart that show how they are related to each other). There is also a great glossary and some cool links in each section of the book.
Overall impression Packed with info this is sure to be a big hit with any little boy who enjoys dinos!

KidsLikeOurs.com, September 2001

Introduction to Music

Description What is an Usborne Internet-linked book? It is a brand new kind of book containing details of Usborne-recommended Web sites to take you further into each subject in an entertaining and interactive way.

Must I have a computer to use this book? Absolutely not. This encyclopedia works on its own as an outstanding reference book without using the Internet at all.

Will the Web sites go out of date? Web sites do change from time to time, so the sites in this book will be regularly reviewed by Usborne researchers. You will find up-to-date links to these or alternative sites by going to www.usborne.com and clicking on Quicklinks. Free downloadable images. A selection of useful diagrams from this book can be downloaded free by going to www.usborne.com and clicking on Quicklinks.

What else will I find in this book? You will find every style of music from classical to rock and pop, jazz, blues, and world music, with information on composing, performing, sound recording, music notation, opera, ballet, the music industry and how instruments work. You will also find: Amazing photographs of performers past and present -- Instruments, orchestras and the science of sound -- Clear explanations of musical forms and terms -- Suggestions for music to listen to.
Our View As a previous homeschooler, I know that one of the areas that can be hard to teach is music appreciation. There is really not a lot out there on that subject. I remember having my oldest child teach her brother what she had learned to play on the recorder and that was about the extent of his music lessons.

I would have loved to have a book such as this one back then.

Today though, I still count this book as a wonderful treasure to share with my four children (two of them will have to wait a little while to read it as they are 5 and 3).

First of all Megan (13) has always been very musically inclined (she has always been in choir or band) and as a result snatched up this book and had a great time reading about the composers and types of music.

Brandon (10) really enjoys looking at all the pages that show the different types of instruments (such as stringed or woodwind). He is deciding which one that he would like to play next year (when he will be old enough for band). He also likes the pages that show how to read notes. I also like that one because although Megan could since the time she was eight, I have never be able to do so.

Besides such helpful pages such as the one that has a helpful chart for buying a new instrument, there is also a good glossary and a page that shows what the words mean that composers use when they want to show at what speed to play the music.

One of the best parts about the book are all the great websites that they have listed for you online. All you have to do is go to their website and type in the page number and you are presented with some fun places to visit online.
Bottom Line A Must Buy!! for homeschoolers and music lovers alike. No matter the age this book is sure to teach the reader something new about the world of music.

KidsLikeOurs.com, August 2001

Children's Bible

Description A stunningly illustrated collection of the best-known and best-loved stories from the Bible, carefully written, and perfect for reading aloud. Each story has been specially selected from both the Old and New Testament to enable young children to gain understanding and enjoyment. Thoroughly checked by experts and beautifully illustrated by Linda Edwards, this book is certain to become much-loved and much read by children and adults alike.
Our View I have never seen MaryJo (5) so proud of anything in her life as she is of owning this bible. She shows it to anyone with eyes and likes to hug it and say, "I love my bible!"

Why all the enthusiasm? Well there are several reasons.

First of all she was instantly attracted to the wonderful illustrations. They are so colorful (each story has a unique color) and fun to look at (MaryJo loves the picture of Noah's Ark).

Secondly the stories are just the right size (as well as very accurate).

Lastly she feels very grown up because she owns her own bible just like her big brother and sister.
Overall impression A Wonderful First Bible!!

KidsLikeOurs.com, August 2001

The Last 500 Years

Description From the first sea voyages around the world to the coming of the computer age, The Last 500 Years features important events from across the globe. This book covers all the major wars, rebellions and political movements of the period, as well as global issues such as the environment and human rights.

Historical events are explained in clear, simple language.
Spectacular photographs and exciting scenes bring the past vividly to life.
Clear maps make it easy to see where things happened.
An illustrated time chart presents a global view of history.
Important dates are shown in boxes for quick reference.
My View This book is Awesome!! There is really no other way to describe it. The illustrations, photos, and text do a fantastic job of grabbing even the most reluctant readers attention.

This book does a great job at breaking history up into small easy to chew pieces. After reading this book your child (or you) will have a good grasp of why things are the way they are in our (and other) countries.

I have to admit I always liked history but found the textbooks dry and boring. This book is so fun to read that it actually makes you want to read more and more.

Both of my older children enjoy looking through this book and point out to me all of the illustrations that they find interesting. Megan (13) was fascinated with the information (and photos) on WW2 and Britain in the 1800's. Brandon (10) liked looking at all of the illustrations of solders and ships and the like.

I am fascinated with the whole book and will enjoy sharing it with all the children, as they grow older. The back of the book has a World Time Chart, A Word List, and an Index for quick look ups.
Bottom Line I will repeat what I have said previously .... If only all history books were written like this than all students would love learning about the past. A must buy for homeschoolers, history students, and anyone who loves a great read.

KidsLikeOurs.com, August 2001


Description Learn about some of the 2,500 different types of snakes such as Mambas, Pit Vipers, and Cobras to name a few. Also learn about Underground and Sea Snakes, Snake bites, Rituals and legends and so much more.

What is an Usborne Internet-linked book? It is a book that contains Usborne-recommended Web sites specially chosen to take you further into the subject in a fun and informative way, and which has links on the Usborne Quicklinks Web site at www.usborne-quicklinks.com to take you straight to the recommended sites.
Our View Do you know the name of a snake that kills at least 10,000 people every year, or which snake can produce babies without ever needing to mate? Well neither did we until we read this book.

You know the older I get, the more I realize there is just so much I don't know. When it came to snakes I figured I knew all there was to know about them (they were green, slimy and lived on land). After reading this book I found out how different the facts were (they are multi-colored and textured, and some live in the sea).

Brandon (10) said "Wow! Cool!" when he received this book and immediately started reading it and has enjoyed sharing it with his friends. They all love the pictures, which are amazing (one shows a snakes open mouth and venom on its fangs)..

I really enjoyed reading the Snake facts and I think the Glossary at the back of the book would be a great resource for making a spelling list.
Bottom Line Jam-packed with interesting illustrations and information this would be a great bookshelf addition for home-schoolers and snake-lovers alike.

KidsLikeOurs.com, August 2001

Going to School

Description Every child looks forward to their first day at school - but they are usually a little bit nervous, too. With warmth and humor, this charming book helps to prepare the child by describing a typical day at school. The delightful illustrations are packed with details that provide opportunities for adults and children to talk about this first experience together. ("An excellent series for all young families to enjoy together." Children's Book News)
Our View MaryJo has recently turned five and so will be starting kindergarten next month. She has been getting very excited but also a little bit nervous because she isn't exactly sure what school is like (she has never been in daycare or any school-like setting). I think reading this book to her has really shown her what school is like and she now realizes that there is nothing to be nervous about. In fact she got very excited when she read about "Singing with Miss Dot". She has always said that she wants to be a singer and is so excited about "learning songs" in school. She also liked finding the hidden duck as we read.

Eric (3) is turning into a bookworm and he has really enjoyed just sitting with this book and turning the pages and looking at all of the illustrations. There are so many children in each one that he can look at each page for a long time and never get board.

KidsLikeOurs.com, August 2001

Beads, Bangles and Bracelets Kid Kit

Description The 32-page full color book in this kit is bursting with original bead and bracelet making ideas. You will quickly discover how to turn beads and clay into your own creations and make necklaces, brooches and earrings to wear and to give as gifts. Get creative and make your own gemstones with the crystals included. There are lots of quick and easy projects. You'll discover that making your own jewelry is a lot less expensive than buying it... and lots more fun! Kit includes four colors of clay, an assortment of colorful beads, salt crystals, gold wire, paint, embroidery floss and bracelet tubing.
Our View The other night my eldest child Megan (13) had her best-friend spending the night. There was a time when they weren't sure what to do next (they were getting a little bored) so I pulled out this kit and suggested that they make jewelry.

Well, their eyes lit up and after looking through the book and choosing their project they quickly found what they needed and got started. My daughter made a bracelet with plastic tubing, beads, and thread. She said that it was easy to do. Her friend used the same type of tubing and painstakingly filled it with cake sprinkles. Both bracelets turned out really good and they had a lot of fun making them.

The next day my youngest daughter MaryJo (5) was bored and so I again pulled out this kit. She got very excited and after quickly looking through the book picked out a project. She said "I want to make a necklace for daddy". I responded, "How about making one for grandma?" She said "No. I want to make daddy one." I said "OK" and she showed me what she wanted to do. It was a "Glassy Beads" that she wanted to make. I have to say I really liked learning how to make them with her. I thought they were very creative and she had the best time making them. Then she used them (along beads we had) and made a necklace which my husband loved.

This kid kit not only contains a great book filled with photos, illustrations, and easy to understand instructions but it also has so many things to make jewelry with that it will be a long time before your child runs out of things to do.

Well I have to run because my youngest is waiting to make more jewelry. Remember if you buy and use this kit with your child you are not only making jewelry, you are making memories that will last a lifetime.

KidsLikeOurs.com, August 2001

First Encyclopedia of Space

Description What are stars made of? Why does the Moon shine? What do space toilets look like? Find out in this bright and lively book. Simple text, amazing photographs, detailed illustrations and a selection of exciting, recommended web sites introduce young readers to the wonders of the Universe. All the Web sites are regularly reviewed, and you will always be able to find up-to-date links to them or other suitable sites in Usborne Quicklinks at www.usborne-quicklinks.com

A selection of free downloadable pictures from this book is also available in Usborne Quicklinks at www.usborne-quicklinks.com.  Must I be online to use this book? Absolutely not. This book also works as an excellent information book on its own.
Our View First off,  I have to say as usual I was very impressed by not only the great illustrations, photos, and wealth of information, but I also loved the links included for each page. Instead of typing them out (some were quite long) I just went to www.usborne-quicklinks.com clicked on the book's title, typed in the page number and not only was the link from that page right there but the photos were also there to download.

Brandon (10) loves this book. He has sat on the couch and read it and I would hear "Wow that's cool! Let me tell you about this" and then he would read from the book. I know he really enjoyed looking at all of the great photos and illustrations. I mean he honestly got very jazzed reading it. Some of the things that really got him excited were learning about Jupiter and finding out what the big red spot on it was. Learning about Mars and what was found in a rock from there. Learning about the Sun (he was amazed at the picture). But by far the thing that got him the most excited was learning about "The Puzzle Moon." We were even speculating together that maybe it was Gods Jigsaw Puzzle.

He said "Mom I really like this book. It is a really good one."

Eric (3) likes the pictures of the spacecraft. He screams "Wow the rocket ship! LOOK, Look!"

Megan (13) also likes this book. She said "There's some tight (means cool) stuff in there".

In the back of the book are an index and a two page list of space words.

Bottom Line Great illustrations and easy to read information make this a Must Buy for homeschoolers and those wanting to learn more about Space.

Cryptologia, July 2001

Kids Codes and Ciphers

Designed for school age youngsters, this very attractive book contains top secret messages from undercover agents, baffling ancient inscriptions, and cryptic communications from sinister societies. Some of the codes are moderately tricky, while others may seem fiendishly difficult. They are all self-contained so you can attempt to solve them in any order. But if you start at the beginning, you will be able to follow the exploits of five intrepid individuals.

The mystery begins when a strange notice appears in the Global Herald seeking five adventurers. Out of thousands of replies, five brave individuals are selected to take part in an intriguing mission. Each one receives instructions summoning them to Almaro City in the States of Enigma. There a mysterious figure hands each person a sealed envelope and leaves a file on the table. Thus begins the tale leading each participant to daring and dangerous investigations requiring the solution of unique ciphers and ultimately bringing them together for a final cryptanalytic assault on the last code leading to a legendary hoard of long-lost treasure.

It is a delightful book that should entice children away from television or computer games and even adults may be lured into participation.

CBA Marketplace, July 2001

Book of Peoples of the World

New Internet-linked books link children to the Usborne web site to go on a continent-by-continent journey exploring cultures, beliefs, homes, jobs, and traditions.

KidsLikeOurs.com, July 2001

Starting Ballet Kid Kit

Description This kit fulfills the dream that many young girls share - becoming a ballerina. A charming pair of ballet "paper" dolls come alive in five pretty costumes. Velcro holds the changeable outfits firmly in place atop these standing dolls. Clothing and doll components are made of rigid plastic material that easily endure travel, clothing changes and vigorous workouts! A durably constructed background scene provides the familiar wooden floor and barre of the dance studio, along with dressing room and performance stage for our dancing friends. This kit takes fantasy into reality with an informative guide to basic ballet exercises and creative moves in Usborne's First Skills Starting Ballet book. History of the dance and classic ballet story lines are discussed as well.
Our View MaryJo (5) was leaping for joy when she received this book. Her cousin Lacey had just began a ballet class but MaryJo was unable to attend so getting this kit took the sting out of not being able to go.

I was amazed at how sturdy the "paper dolls" are. The Velcro makes it very easy for even the youngest child to change outfits and the background scenes that are provided makes it easy to imagine she is backstage, on stage, or at ballet class.

The book is filled with exercises and movement instruction that is both fun and easy to do. This is a great book to have around on a rainy day. The book also teaches about other related things such as famous ballets.
Bottom Line A great gift for the little ballerina in your life. If she is like my daughter when she is not practicing the moves herself she will be playing ballerina with the dolls. FUN!!

www.fogg.cc, July 2001

Essential Spanish

Book Review www.fogg.cc logo
Title: Essential Spanish
Author: Nicole Irving and Leslie Colvin
Publisher: EDC Publishing, Tulsa, OK
ISBN: 0-7460-0320-X
Reviewed By: Frank Fogg
Review Date: July, 2001

Essential Spanish is a phrasebook targeted to middle school students of the Spanish language. This book is a color paperback of 64 pages.

The content of this guide focuses on the words, phrases and slang of Spanish as it is spoken in Spain (not Latin America). The book is organized in sections based on themes. Some of these themes include obtaining accommodations, dining, traveling, shopping, and emergency situations.

Get more information about Essential SpanishEach section includes a cartoon strip that demonstrates sample conversations in Spanish. A box is placed with essential words relating to the section theme along with their Spanish translation. Scattered throughout the book are smaller "Fact file" text boxes with cultural information about Spain and its people. A page at the beginning lists essential vocabulary needed to communicate in Spanish, while a complete listing of words and phrases appears in an index at the end of the book. Another section uses several pages to cover the most important elements of the Spanish grammar including the uses of ser and estar, how verbs are used, nouns, plurals, and adjectives.

The cartoon format of this guide is likely to appeal to the teenaged audience for which it is targeted. A large variety of topics, words and phrases are covered, providing a handy reference for studying Spanish as it is used in everyday situations. The book also includes two pages of slang expressions that are useful and relevant, yet appropriate for children of all ages. The content is organized with translations alphabetically organized in English, making translation from Spanish to English a little difficult, and its size is a little too large to conveniently carry in a shirt or jacket pocket, but the strength of this guide is the scope of its content.

Essential Spanish provides an opportunity for young students of Spanish to improve their vocabulary and conversational skills in situations they are likely to encounter when traveling. The colorful cartoon format will appeal to children and keep their interest. The content covers the most important elements of the Spanish language and gives the reader an improved vocabulary of useful words and phrases.

www.fogg.cc, July 2001

El Castillo Misterioso

Book Review www.fogg.cc logo
Title: El Castillo Misterioso (Mystery Castle)
Editor: Kate Needham
Publisher: EDC Publishing, Tulsa, OK
ISBN: 0-7460-2525-4
Reviewed By: Frank Fogg
Review Date: July, 2001

El Castillo Misterioso (Mystery Castle) is a bi-lingual puzzle story for children written in Spanish and English. The book contains 25 pages and is colorfully illustrated.

Get more information about El Castillo MisteriosoThe storyline is set inside of a large medieval castle. The young reader searches each page for objects that are listed at the beginning of the story. These objects, including run-fast shoes, an anti-monster shield, and a super flashlight are used to solve the mystery at the end of the story. Also hidden on each page are additional items such as a ghost and juggler balls for the reader to search for.

The storyline is presented in Spanish. A list of all of the Spanish words on each page along with the English translation is provided in a key box near the top of the page to help the beginner to understand the material. The reader must follow directions given in Spanish by both humans and animals to solve the puzzle for that particular page. Additional instructions are provided in English so that the child can complete each page. An index of all of the words and phrases is included on the final two pages for a quick reference. This index also includes a pronunciation key to sound out unfamiliar words.

Kids love this book. They enjoy looking over the colorful pages and searching for the objects they need to find. They will look at it time and time again, it never seems to bore them, and they can hardly wait to take their turn when another child is using the book.

El Castillo Misterioso is a fun vehicle for young children to improve their Spanish skills. It is colorfully illustrated and children enjoy working with the puzzles. It covers a variety of basic Spanish vocabulary and is formatted so that children can readily understand new words and phrases.

KidsLikeOurs.com, July 2001

That's Not My Tractor

Description This delightful series of board books is aimed at very young children. The bright pictures, with their patches of different textures, are designed to develop sensory and language awareness. Babies and toddlers will love turning the pages and touching the feely patches.
Our View Eric is all boy and goes crazy whenever he sees anything with wheels. He went crazy when he saw this book and squealed "read it for me, read it for me". He likes pointing to the mouse on each page but his favorite part of the book is of course the feely parts. When I read each sentence he will repeat it and then feel the page. He loves the pages with the wheels that are "squashy".
Bottom Line Toddlers will love feeling the different tractor parts and will be attracted by the bright and colorful pages. Fun!

KidsLikeOurs.com, July 2001

Trick Photography Kid Kit

Description For fun pictures, simply follow Trick Photography instructions - more than 40 ideas for composing "tricky-y" photographs! Usborne's handy book contains lots of ideas for experimenting both during photography and afterward, using the finished prints. Their single-use camera contains 27 exposures of 400 ISO color film. Play with color using simple lens filters. Take pictures, and then take the camera to a film developer for print processing. It's fun and easy! The Kid Kit includes camera, 5 1/2" square white cardboard frame, yellow waterbase marker, red and green filters with removable tape and tracing paper.
Our View If you want to put a smile of your child's face just hand them this kid kit.

Brandon was jumping for joy when he received this and was reading the book within minutes. The book was just the right size for him and really makes trick photography easy to understand and do. He kept saying things like "Wow this is so cool!" and "Look at this mom, boy I'm gonna do that one!" I also got a big hug and a "Thank you! Thank You!"

The first picture he took was one that made it look like my hair was standing straight up. Then we went outside and he took photos of different things (including his little brother) with the different color lenses. He used the marker included to do funny things to photo's we had already printed.

Those are some of the things he has already done. He wants to try each one in the book at least once. The tricks in the book really do look both real and in Brandon's words "Cool"

A great kit that any child/teen would enjoy.

KidsLikeOurs.com, July 2001

Midnight Horse

Description Riding at the Hawthorn House trials is all that Kate has dreamed of and this year she's in with a real chance of winning. As she works hard to prepare for the day, it seems nothing will distract her from her goal. But then the mysterious midnight horse rides into Kate's life, and suddenly everything changes. This is the fourth book in a series which follows the day to day drama and exciting adventures of the children and horses of Sandy Lane Stables.
Our View This is a nice book about the coming together of best friends. Megan (13) said that she thought it was very interesting. She liked the character of Izzy but she said that she would never have the nerve to do what she did. She said that she would recommend this book to any girl who liked horses or had a best friend.
Bottom Line A fun read for the pre-teen through teen in your life to read alone or with their own best friend.

KidsLikeOurs.com, July 2001

Find the Duck Kid Kit

Description Stephen Cartwright's charming characters come to life in these five cute Kid Kits. The pictures in these delightful board books show a duck, teddy, puppy, kitten or piglet hidden in everyday environments. The books have been specially devised to provide the very young with the challenge of something to look for and familiar objects to name. The plush pile puppets help act out each scene and will provide hours of enjoyment for very young children.
Our View I love reading this book to Eric. I read each page to him and then asked, "Where's the ducky?" and he says "It's right heeerrree" and points to it. He just has a most fun time finding it.

Eric just turned three and is just starting to potty train. He loves the illustration in this book of a little boy sitting on a potty-chair looking at a book about ducks. Every time he reads the book he says "Wook, wook" and points to page.

The illustrations show the duck and the little boy in various scenes and get your children involved by asking questions about what they see. The duck is really cute and is a lot of fun to play with. The feet have holes for your two fingers and you are sure to get smiles out of your child by walking it up your child's arm. Eric just loves that, as does MaryJo.
Bottom Line Toddlers love ducks and they won't be disappointed with the adorable duck and interactive story. FUN!!

Children's Bookwatch, July 2001

The Great Searches Series

EDC Publishing offers three outstanding Usborne 'picture puzzle' titles beautifully illustrated by Ian Jackson for children with an interest in nature and wildlife that are as fun as they are informative. In The Great Animal Search (0746017391, $9.95) there are some 100 animals to spot and identify on every double-page of this oversized book. Each scenario showcases a different part of the world and the wildlife that lives there. In addition to countless hours of puzzle solving fun, there is a wealth of fascinating animal facts presented in succinct, easy-to-read captions.The Big Bug Search (0746027036, $8.95) follows the same format, only this time for insects ranging from hairy spiders and black slugs to dragonflies and leafcutter ants. With The Great Undersea Search (0746023413, $8.95) the focus in on live underwater in the various puzzle pictures ranging from coral reef to ocean depths to sunken pirate ship, and more. With all three books, should young readers (or their parents!) get stuck trying to find all the hidden things, there are answers in the back. This wonderfully presented, magnificently illustrated series is especially recommended for home schooling curriculums, rainy day pastimes, or long road trip diversions. 

Washington Parent, July 2001, Great Summer Reads by Mary Quattlebaum

Shells and Shells Sticker

Picking up shells is certainly one beach experience. All those colors, shapes and textures! Those who don't know an oyster from a conch shell, though, may wish to bring along a guide. Usborne Books publishes two good ones written by Graham Saunders, illustrated with color photos by Mike Freeman and suitable for ages 8 and up. Shells (1992, $4.95) is pocked-sized and includes a fascinating section on the biology and life cycle of a mollusk. Spotter's Sticker Shells (2000, $7.95) boasts eight pages of stickers to be affixed to the appropriate place in the text.

For Kids Only, June-July 2001

Spycraft Kit

The disguises were pretty neat. There were maps and coded messages for you to work on. It was fun. - Danny Beers, 12, Hazlet, NJ

I liked the disguises, my brothers and I tried to figure out the maps. - Christopher Beers, 7, Hazlet, NJ

It was fun playing this with my brothers and figuring out spy things. - Cody Beers, 7, Hazlet, NJ

KidsLikeOurs.com, June 2001

A Horse for the Summer

Description When Tom is left a prize-winning show jumper to look after over the summer, things don't turn out quite as he'd hoped. Chancey is wild and unpredictable and Tom is forced to start training him in secret. But the days of summer are numbered and Chancey isn't Tom's to keep forever. At some point he will have to give him back... This is the first book in a series which follows the day to day drama and exciting adventures of the children and horses of Sandy Lane Stables. ("Settle back for a great horsy read." Horse and Pony)
Kids view Megan read it the moment she received it and said that it was really good. Her favorite part of the story was when Tom's cousin got stuck out in the beach because the tide came in. She also liked the ending a lot.

She says "I would recommend this story to people who like horses."
Bottom Line Since summer is just starting, you might want to pick this up as it is sure to keep the girl in your life reading,

KidsLikeOurs.com, June 2001

Improve Your Spelling

Description Hough gud iz you're speling? This book will help hesitant spellers to assess and improve their spelling skills. It is packed with entertaining quizzes and puzzles which give plenty of practice at spelling confusing and difficult words. Colorful and amusing illustrations ensure that this useful book will be an enjoyable read for spellers of all abilities.
Our View Brandon has always struggled with spelling. Like this book says "Spelling is a skill that can be learned". It is a skill that we are going to be working on this summer. He is going to be in fourth grade next year and that is the year they start essays. I want him to spell better so that he can do well in school next year.

I like this book because it has fun activities and illustrations. When Brandon first looked through the book he said, "This book looks fun mom." It breaks down the lessons into easy to digest portions. That is good because Brandon has an attention problem. Also the exercises really get it to stick.

This is a book that I will be using with my younger children also as they get older. It really does make learning fun!

If you have a child that struggles with spelling (a little or a lot) than this is a Must Buy!

Metrowest Daily News, June 2001

Books for children to read this summer, by Alyson Button Stone

I must start this week with a paean of praise for Usborne Books, that truly amazing publisher and recipient of numerous awards and accolades from teachers and parents alike.

As we head into vacation time, travel time, and 'Mom, I'm bored' time, Usborne comes to the rescue with over 60 new products, and a full catalog of wonderful resources in the following subject areas: arts/crafts; board books; geography; kid kits; math; music; nature; puzzles; science; and more.  All the genres have entries for a range of age groups. These materials are just indispensable for rainy days, traveling (save a puzzle or sticker book for that impending car trip and enjoy a peaceful journey), beginning a skill like fractions or a new language, or just enjoying a parent/child activity.

I had a middle-schooler home with a cold last week and we spent a very pleasant afternoon solving an Usborne Puzzle Adventure Kit. The puzzle wasn't too hard or too easy - just challenging enough to permit us to solve the mystery and save the world in a few hours.

With Usborne, every facet of the books shows loving care and quality. You simply can't go wrong. I particularly liked a fantasy adventure titled Star Quest. There's lots of stuff to solve, lots of hidden pictures to find, lots of imaginative, unique characters.

KidsLikeOurs.com, June 2001

Camping Out Sticker Book

Description Children can complete each page of this story, which is a re-telling of Poppy and Sam's camping adventure from the Farmyard Tales series, with colorful picture stickers. There are also "I found the duck!" reward stickers for finding the little yellow duck hidden on each page. Farmyard Tales Sticker Storybooks are storybooks, sticker books and puzzle books all in one.
Our View This cute storybook shows how campers come to Apple Tree Farm. Poppy and Sam decide to have a camp-out of their own with very funny results.

The illustrations in this book are picture book quality and the text is bold and easy to read. There are about 2 places per page on which your child can place a matching sticker. There is also a sticker for when your child finds the yellow duck on each page.

MaryJo (5) is going camping this summer for the first time and really enjoyed this book. She likes the stickers and both her and Eric (3) like finding the duck. They get so excited when they do.
Bottom Line This book is a great value. They story is entertaining, the pictures are wonderfully done, the stickers are reusable, and the duck brings added fun.

KidsLikeOurs.com, June 2001

Viking Invader

Description The Vikings: axe-wielding brutes or clean-living explorers and traders? Read the Viking Invader and find out. It's a fresh and lively look at history which is written like a tabloid newspaper. Danes Brit Debut End in Beheading, 'Position Hopeless' says Missionary, Captain in Coffin Burns Wrong Town - it's all here in the Invader! PLUS - The Axe Files - our sharp-as-a-blade quiz, Marriage - What every Viking maiden should know, AND a special report from the Ideal Longhouse Exhibition. There's a lot more to the Vikings than you think. Discover the people behind the headlines in the Viking Invader - coming to a village near you, SOON. ("Lavishly illustrated in full color... the book contains a wealth of information." History Teaching Review)
My View Wow both the older children Brandon (9) and Megan (13) and their parents (me and my hubby) have enjoyed this book tremendously. No we are not usually tabloid readers but this one is to good to pass up. It is so funny and packs such an educational punch that if I had an award, this book would get it.

From the front page motto (All the Pilling that's fit to print) to the funny headlines (Ella not a Wella Fella), to the interesting true stories (I particularly like the one about the miracle), to the goofy fictional (in the spirit of what was real at the time) classified ads (Lets Loot again like we did last summer) this book is Edu-tainment at it's best.
Bottom Line If only all history books were written like this than all history students would love learning about it. A must buy for homeschoolers and anyone who loves a great read.

KidsLikeOurs.com, June 2001

Facts of Life

Description Babies and Growing Up combined in one volume. Revised and updated, this widely acclaimed book traces the growth and development of a baby from conception to birth and exactly what happens in the body at the time of puberty. Sections on sex, contraception, food, exercise, hygiene, drugs and HIV.
Our View Part 1: Growing up

My eldest will probably kill me for sharing this but here it goes. She has been doing a lot of "changing" lately and I'm not talking about her cloths if you get my meaning.

One of the major changes has been that she doesn't always feel comfortable talking over these changes with her mother. Yes I said she doesn't. I have always tried to be open and not shy away from topics but she does like her privacy so I respect that. That is why I got this book. So that any information that she might not be getting she can get in this book (while keeping her privacy).

Be forewarned, there are some explicit illustrations (not photos) though they are for educational purposes only and do a great job at explaining and labeling them.

I like the section on keeping clean (I hope Megan paid particular attention to that section.). It does give the facts on sex and gives information that you might want to talk over with your child so I urge you to read it yourself before handing it over to your teen.

It does do a great job giving clear facts without judging or preaching (it leaves that job up to you). It also has sections on feelings, food, drugs, and exercise. And has a section on Aids that answers some questions your teen might have.

Part 2: Babies

This section teaches how babies are created, changes in a pregnant woman's body, labor, and how to care for a newborn. At the back is a baby-sitters guide. This section that might be good for a teen whose mom is pregnant, or likes babies and wants to start baby-sitting.

Bottom Line If you were looking for a No-Holds-Barred book on the facts of life to share with your pre-teen than this would be the one for you.

KidsLikeOurs.com, June 2001

Puppets Kid Kit

Description Usborne's vivid guide to puppet crafting provides the lead for kids (and parents!) to follow toward some very gratifying end results. We provide several colors of felt and paper) plenty for making a chatty jumbo cheeseburger, fruity milkshake and friendly finger mice. The book details construction of eleven puppet types ranging from quick and simple to those more complicated and expressive.
Our View If you want to have a great time with your children than this Kid Kit cannot be missed. The other night the children seemed extremely board so I brought out this kit and watched as their eyes lit up. They couldn't wait to look through the book and pick out some puppets to make.

Brandon (9) and MaryJo (5) both wanted to make some Fruity Milkshakes (you make them talk by moving a straw, which moves their mouths). They are made out of cardboard, tape, felt, straws, and cotton. The books photos and easy to understand instructions made the project very easy to do and the kids and I had a blast putting them together. They turned out great (I was amazed) and the children have had tons of fun putting on plays with them and showing them off with their friends (who have said things like "that is so cool" or "you are lucky").

Megan (13) and I are going to make a Hand puppet tomorrow and the kids and I have decided to make all the puppets in this book before the summer is over.

The most clever puppets in the book are ones that can be made with paper and stuck on fingers. Which proves that it doesn't take much to have a lot of fun with your children and make those memories that last a lifetime.

KidsLikeOurs.com, June 2001

Tales From Littletown

Description These charming stories about Polly and Jack Dot, who live in Littletown, have been especially written to help young children who are just beginning to read. The richly detailed photographs of delightful, handmade models provide plenty for pre-readers to look at and talk about, too. The stories in this book are also available as three separate titles:The Birthday Surprise, The Missing Cat and The Runaway Orange.
Our View Not only are the stories entertaining but the photos are a delight to look at. The folks of Littletown come to life on the pages of this book. The various scenes are fun to look at for parent and child alike.

I like how each of the words in this story are carefully chosen and repeated often to help your child's reading skills develop. Many of these words are represented with an accompanying picture at the back of the book.

All of the stories are fun to read and feature everything from clowns, to kittens and dogs. Fun!
Bottom Line If your child is a beginning reader than this would be a wonderful addition to his library!

KidsLikeOurs.com, June 2001

How Are Babies Made?

Description Discover how a baby forms inside its mother. Lift the flaps on the pages to see the baby changing as it grows... and grows... and grows! It's fun and interactive with simple explanations brought to life by bright and amusing cartoons.
Our View MaryJo (almost 5) has just started asking questions about where babies come from. And while "The Stork" may be a help to some parents, I have always liked to be honest and open (in a non-threatening way) about the facts of life.

I like this book because it is written in a simple straightforward tone that young children can understand. That coupled with non-threatening illustrations makes this the perfect first book on the miracle of life.

MaryJo really enjoyed learning where she came from and the "flip-flaps" added some fun to the book.
Bottom Line If you are "expecting" or just have a curious little one than this book is a Must Buy!

KidsLikeOurs.com, June 2001

Puzzle Journeys

Description Have you ever wanted to be an explorer, soar into space or even whiz through time? Now you can, enjoying fun puzzles along the way. This book contains three titles from the Usborne Puzzle Journeys series, which skillfully blends fact with fiction. The stories are packed with action and interesting snippets of information to give the reader lots to look at and think about. These stories are also available separately: Puzzle Journey Around The World, Puzzle Journey Into Space, & Puzzle Journey Through Time.
Our View As I write this summertime is fast approaching. As every parent knows,  although summertime starts with a bang, the second week of "doing nothing" boredom starts to set in. That is why I purposefully saved this book for just such a time.

This book is really made up of three books.

Puzzle Journey Around the World
Puzzle Journey Through Time
Puzzle Journey Into Space

Each one takes them on an interesting and educational adventure where they have to use their brain to solve the various puzzles. Kids will like the colorful and interesting illustrations and will enjoy the adventure story. The best part of course is that solving the puzzles will help your adventures to learn about the world (past, present or possible future).
Bottom Line A wonderfully creative way to cure the summer boredom blues. Also a great way to put some fun into the day for you homeschoolers out there.

KidsLikeOurs.com, June 2001


Description Hundreds of jokes fill every part of this knockabout book. Gag-happy cartoon characters provide giggles galore with jokes on just about any subject. Find out why the jumbo jet went to the doctors, what cockerels say to their naughty children, and where astronauts park their spaceships... plus hundreds of other rib-ticklers! Includes riddles and rhymes to keep the chuckles flowing and sections showing how to create brand-new jokes.
Our View Warning: DO NOT READ THIS BOOK IN A LIBRARY OR IN STUDY HALL. Why? Because if you are Human (and I assume that most of you are..lol) you are sure to find these jokes so funny that you will be laughing out loud.

This book is packed with hundreds of illustrations and laugh-out-loud jokes. There is so much eye-candy in this book that it is sure to become a favorite of every child who owns it.

We have spent a lot of time as a family cracking up over these Jokes.

The kids vary as to their favorite types (MaryJo (5) likes Knock, knocks Brandon (9) likes What do you get when you cross a., etc.) but I have to talk about my favorite. I mean these jokes are so clever they had me laughing so hard my sides hurt (not to mention my oldest (Megan 13) saying, "You are scaring me mom") and practically rolling on the floor.

At the bottom of each page is a white box with various pictures in it and the words "What's this" next to it. You turn the page to find the answer. Well anyway I don't think you have lived until you have looked at those jokes. They are awesome.

The older children also liked the easy to use diagrams that show you how to make your own Jokes.

KidsLikeOurs.com, June 2001

Hair Braiding Kid Kit

Description Anyone that enjoys experimenting with different hairstyles will love this delightful Usborne Kid Kit. You will find over 15 different braiding techniques for all lengths of hair and lots of accessories to help you achieve many exciting styles! Get together with your friends and try the assortment of ribbons, clips and ponytail wraps found in this kit. Whether you like casual or elegant, you'll have fun finding just the right look.
Our View I have two daughters and a confession to make. I have never been very good at making braids. In fact my attempts in the past were really comical and led to my giving up on doing the girls hair. My problem was I just didn't have any clear instructions on how to make them.

That is why I really appreciate owning this book. First of all I was amazed at how many different types of braids there are. Each style of braid has clear, step by step instructions with photos and illustrations that really help even a novice like me understand just how to make them.

I have tried some out on my daughters and although I have to admit that I did have to re-do some of them, I am getting the hang of it. Both of the girls have enjoyed the results and we enjoy the time spent together.

All in all a great value and nice way to spend time with your daughter.

KidsLikeOurs.com, June 2001

Starting to Read Sticker Book

Description The popular characters from the Farmyard Tales series feature in this fun-filled activity book which introduces the skills that young children need when starting to read. The activities provide plenty of opportunity for looking at pictures, recognizing simple words, and matching letters with sounds. The book contains over 30 colorful stickers to make the activities even more enjoyable. There are also wipe-clean pages of letters to draw over which will help children develop their handwriting skills. Notes for parents are also included.
Our View This book is a whole lot of fun. There are all kind of activities that your child and you can do together.

MaryJo (almost 5) really enjoyed the rhyming activities. There are a few different pages where you get to match up rhyming pictures and words. She also loves putting the stickers on the various pages.

There are many other enjoyable activities in this book. Things such as putting a story in the correct order, reading (illustrated) words, and repeating sounds, will get your child excited about learning to read.

All in all a great value and nice way to spend time with your kindergartner.

KidsLikeOurs.com, June 2001


Description This book is packed with carefully graded exercises to help children learn how to form letters correctly. The colorful and amusing pictures make practicing this new skill enjoyable and fun, and there are lots of opportunities for coloring and counting. There is also a page of really informative notes for parents. ("Lively books with well-structured activities and visual humor to hold a child's interest." Parents Magazine)
Our View If your child has developed good pencil control (is past the scribble stage) then he/she is probably ready to start practicing their letters.

This workbook will be a great way to start doing just that. The first few fun pages (one shows a castle) lets your child practice tracing lines. Each subsequent page provides a lot of space for practicing two similar letters (with the back pages letting your child practice the alphabet).

I love how at the top of each page it gives you step by step instructions on how to form both letters. Also each page has adorable illustrations that are sure to get a smile out of your child.

All in all a great value and nice way to spend time with your preschooler.

KidsLikeOurs.com, June 2001

Flowers Sticker Book

Description Children will love identifying the flowers in this beautiful sticker book. For each flower there is a simple description and a black and white drawing which can be covered with a sticker when the flower is identified. Serious spotters can also record when and where they spotted each flower - but the stickers are so attractive, they could easily be used for many other purposes.
Our View This book has been a lot of fun for my daughter MaryJo (age 4) and I. It is kind of like our special time together. What we do is take a walk together and look for a new type of flower. Then we look at all of the stickers until we find one that matches (sometimes that takes awhile as we have to study the petals and leaves, which just adds to the enjoyment). I then look in the back of the book and find what page the sticker goes on and MaryJo writes the date in the box provided and I write where we found it. Brandon (age 9) has found a few flowers on his own too.

The stickers in this book are very colorful and are reusable (in case you want to hunt flowers forever). I like that this book tells how big the flowers are and when they are in bloom, that helps in spotting them.
Bottom Line A wonderfully fun way to spend time with your children.

KidsLikeOurs.com, June 2001


Description Given a handful of felt pens or crayons, no young child could resist these colorful activity books. Designed to be used with an adult's guidance, they are carefully planned and graded to develop the skills that build toward basic math, writing and reading. The series provides children with hours of fun while developing such vital skills as concentration, hand control and visual awareness.
Our View This book is perfect for when you want to spend some one on one time with your four or five year old.

Each page of this book is filled with color shapes and cute animals. At the bottom of each page are questions or directions that you read to your child. Then you can sit back and watch their eyes light up as they go to work.

MaryJo loves to color and there is a lot of that with this book. It doesn't just teach shapes it also teaches sizes and colors.
Bottom Line A fun and colorful way to learn shapes.

Practical Homeschooling, May/June 2001

Make Reading Fun

If you love Usborne books then you'll love Make Reading Fun, an interactive CD-ROM-based program that will reinforce your child's reading skills. Make Reading Fun is separated into four progressive modules. Each module features three full-sized Usborne books. Usborne books can stand alone, but in this case the CD-ROMs add to the books. Each CD-ROM includes video helps, an interactive storybook, and various activities, including some which are printable. 

The interactive storybooks match the Usborne books exactly. Just click a button and the story is read to you. As each word is read it changes colors so you can follow along. This is the equivalent of a finger pointing under the word. I have to say that 'interactive' is a bit of a stretch. On some pages you can click on a picture and it will tell you its name; other pages however do not have this option.

The learning exercises consist of various phonics activities. There are at least two types of activities per book and they are varied and interesting. The exercises for each book vary but work on such skills as vowel sounds, sequencing, word endings, puzzles, blends, letter sounds, word recognition, and vocabulary building. One problem with the learning exercises is that if you click on the wrong answer nothing happens. You just keep clicking on items until you find the right answer. This may be confusing to some children who don't know they have the wrong answer.

The printable activities are ideal for the homeschool family because they reinforce what is learned in the games and book. If you need to reinforce a particular skill just print up one of the workbook activities. Here are the books included with each module.

Module 1 Ages 2-4

Module 2 Ages 3-5

Module 3 Ages 4-6

Module 4 Ages 5-8

If you would like a supplemental reading program that contains actual learning activities and not just pointless games then Make Reading Fun is for you!



Washington Parent (newspaper), March, 2000

Famous Women Kid Kit

Why not mark National Women's History Month by reading The Usborne Book of Famous Women written by Richard Dungworth and Philippa Wingate and illustrated by Nicholas Hewetson?  Once familiar with the tales in the book, your family can assemble the accompanying jigsaw puzzle and play a fill-in-the-blank game testing knowledge of successful (and sometimes notorious) figures, from Nefertiti, Queen of Egypt, to Diana, Princess of Wales.

Mary Quattlebaum
Washington Parent

School Library Journal, February, 2000

Everyday Words

This book deserves a second look just for the unique figures and scenes.  They are formed from a modeling material and have minute details that keep the eyes busy scanning and re-scanning each page.  Double-page spreads of town, house, yard, family, etc. feature about 20 clearly labeled pictures of such objects as bridges, bathtubs, barbecues, and brothers.  Each spread has a word search tie-in, e.g., "Find six cassettes" in "The living room"; for "The bedroom," "Find four spiders."  The pages are busy but have a remarkable attention to detail, such as magnets on the refrigerator and a stopper in the bathroom sink.  Over 500 words are indexed for quick searches.

Melanie S. Wible
Jackson Elementary School
Lawrenceville, GA

Greenleaf Press, January, 2000

Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece

Usborne's design teams are finally venturing beyond illustration and are now incorporating color photography!  This is the first volume of a new series that will rival the Cultural Atlas series from Facts on File.   The contents are arranged chronologically with major sections on Early Greece, Archaic Greece, Classical Greece, Everyday Life, Macedonia and the Hellenistic World, and a final "Factfiner" section that focuses on Greek mythology, philosophy, and literature.  The text and pictures are nicely intertrated and well chosen for a target audience of upper elementary grades (approximately 4th-8th grade).

*EDC was informed of this review by Patti Stephen a UBAH Supervisor from Acworth, GA.

Learning Magazine, January, 2000

Complete Book of the Microscope

Investigate a fly's eye, the flu virus, and more in photos thousands of times larger than life.  Also includes step-by-step instructions for using microscopes to get amazing views of everyday objects.

Complete Book of the Microscope
was recently awarded a
"Teachers' Choice Award"
for excellence in the classroom.

Midwest Book Review, December, 1999

Fun With Numbers

Fun With Numbers is part of the Usborne Playtime series and filled with easy activities involving counting, adding, subtracting, and sharing.  All of the activities are designed to entertain and educate children ages 3 to 6 with their understanding of numbers.  Quick and easy ideas give great results and immediately boost a child's confidence with basic number identification and manipulation.  Fun With Numbers is particularly ideal for home schooling.

Parenting Plus, December, 1999

You and Your Child: Christmas

This little book/activity kit is filled with some of the most wonderful ideas for parents and children to create together to share in the fun of holiday preparations.  From decorations and ornaments to advent calendars, cards, presents and yummy recipes, plus many of the supplies necessary to create all of these holiday creations come in this book/kit.  (All other needed supplies are already in your home!)

Education Souse e-newsletter, December 20, 1999

Top Ten Art Products for the Year 2000
Art Ideas

This beautiful book has over 200 ideas for things to do with acrylic paints, chalk pastels, inks, poster paints, tissue paper, oil pastels, wax crayons and watercolors.  The projects are easy-to-follow and the results are stunning!


School Library Journal, December, 1999

Ted in a Red Bed

A pleasing story for the earliest readers.   A bear goes into a store and buys a bed, falls asleep, and awakens to find himself home in his new bed presumably by magic.  However, the illustrations reveal that a penguin, a cat, and a pig actually move the bed to his house with him in it.  Two entertaining flaps are cleverly worked into the story.  Each page has only one or two simple sentences, many of which rhyme.  The characters are cartoon-like and the bear is a cuddly teddy.  Cartwright's use of bright primary colors work well with the story.  The front and back covers provide an introduction to phonics and a phonetic listing of the words in the book.  Although there are a few points at which the choice of words is a bit overdone (" ' I need this bed, Fred!'  grins Ted.   'It is a nice price,' smiles Fred"), for the most part the language flows fairly well despite the controlled vocabulary.  Children' will enjoy finding the yellow duck that is hidden on every page.  Librarians in search of beginning readers will find that this helps fill a need.

Amy Lilien- Harper
Ferguson Library
Stamford, CT

Parenting Plus, November 1999

How Are Babies Made?

A lift-the-flaps book designed to introduce young children to the greatest miracle of life.

Understanding the Facts of Life

For children aged 10 and over, this book explains important aspects of the human body in a straightforward way.  Also covers some "tricky" topics that today's teens and parents must address such as sex, contraception, drugs, HIV, as well as food, exercise and hygiene.

Growing Up

A shorter version of Understanding the Facts of Life.  This version, also for children approaching puberty, clearly discusses many of the changes their bodies will go through along with many other subjects to assist them through all these changes.

Today's Books, November 29, 1999

Ancient World
A Must Read!!!!!

Humanity from 10,000 BC to 500 AD.  From the Agricultural Age to the Fall of the Roman Empire.  Includes Egypt, Crete, Hittites, Hebrews, Assyrians, Persia, Greece, China, Japan, Arabia, Africa, India, the Americas, Rome and Christianity.

Medieval World
A Must Read!!!!!

One thousand years of world history from the fall of Rome to the Renaissance, from 500 to 1500 AD.  Covers Byzantium, the Barbarians, Christianity, Islam, Vikings, Anglo-Saxons, Charlemagne, the Papacy, Crusaders, the Plague, Celts, Wars of the Roses, Turks, Russia, Spain, Africa, India, Southeast Asia, China, Japan, Exploration, Native Americans, Italian art, and discovery voyages.

Parenting Plus, October 1999

Editor's Choice of Perfect Party Products
Dressing Up, Make This Life Size Model Skeleton,
Make This Haunted House, Haunted World

Hosting a frightfully delightful Halloween party for tiny goblins is not as spooky as you though with a little ghoulish guidance from Usborne Books.  Dressing Up is a bubbling cauldron of creative ideas and how-to-instructions that will cover all your party activity needs including face painting, mask and costume making, games and projects.  Devilish decorations are a cinch with Make This Life Size Model Skeleton and Make This Haunted House.  Each will provide hours of pre-party fun for the whole family with step-by-step instructions and all you need to construct spine-chilling intricately detailed models.  Don't be left in the dark without a terrifying tale to read to the creepy little guests.  Haunted World is a ghastly voyage of ancient spirits and ghostly galleons.  With these titles on hand, Your Monster Mash will be a Graveyard Smash!

Parenting Plus, August, September 1999

Editor's Choice of Great Arts and Crafts Kits for Kids
Calligraphy Kid Kit

Usborne makes it easy for beginners to learn this ancient writing art developed by Medieval scribes.  Fifteen popular calligraphy styles are included in the step-by-step instruction book along with more detailed and advanced techniques.  The imaginative ideas are endless once your little calligrapher masters this traditional art.  Also includes three colored calligraphy pens.

Booklovers, August, September, October 1999

Duck Books Box Set

Do you have a new baby or small child in the family?  Usborne Publishing has a delightful board book collection guaranteed to occupy a little mind for hours.  There are three titles in the "Duck Books" series.  In Duck and His Friends, Duck finds Cat in the bushes, they chase butterflies together, and then they collect friends and go on adventures throughout the morning until, finally, Duck, Cat, Frog, Piglet and Monkey find Dog and they all have a picnic.  Duck in Trouble show just how much trouble one little duck can get himself into.  First he finds a balloon which lifts him up into the air.  He falls on a bird's nest, the nest falls from the tree, and Duck falls into a bucket full of green paint.  Duck, of course, needs to be washed.  But, alas, after he is hung out to dry Duck falls in the mud.  Poor Duck!  When will it all end?

Finally, in Duck on Holiday, Duck gets a much-deserved rest.  The illustrations, in the tradition of the series, beautifully depict his day on the beach, the placid rock pool he discovers, and all of his remaining beach fun.  These books can be read to the infant, toddler, or with the aid of the simple, bright illustrations, the preschooler can read the stories "all by themselves."  So many concepts can be taught with this series, from colors to story sequencing to counting to labeling of animals and more, that three little board books turn into a learning adventure with a good friend named Duck.

Tracy Walczak

Farmyard Tales, Pop-Up Carousel Book

Another of Cartright's creations, Farmyard Tales shows the change of season at Apple Tree Farm.  If you've never experienced a carousel book before, this one is a must-see.  The first page turned erupts into a beautiful spring day on Apple Tree Farm.  The goat in the 3-D barn (whose door really opens!) is grooming her kid; two lambs are drinking from a trough.   A pulltab reveals a farmer riding a tractor; a flap on the scarecrow's chest reveals a cat and her kittens.  Included in the springtime picture are two paper dolls so that children can play interactively in the barnyard scene.  The book also includes a smaller companion book that tells a story of the farm and its inhabitants.

The second page shows the summer scene.   The apple blossoms are gone from the tree, leaving vivid, green leaves.  Now the cow peeks around the tree when a tab is pulled and a pig and her piglet snooze in the little barn.  The cat rests atop the barn, and a flap in the tree reveals a beehive.   The farmer reclines on a bale of hay.  Summer clothes can be placed on the paper dolls to enhance the summer theme.

The next season on page three is, of course, autumn.  Fall brings apples from the tree, beautiful colors in the leaves, and in the little barn we find bales of hay with the chickens perched on top of them.  One of the chickens can be lifted to reveal a nest full of eggs.  The farmer is picking the apples and his wife is offering cider.  A flap in the tree reveals a squirrel storing nuts, and the paper children need to be dressed in their sweaters!

Winter brings a beautiful, snowy play land for the paper kids.  The dog stays warm in his doghouse, the sheep, in his thick, warm wool hides behind the apple tree, and the owl is hiding within the tree's protective trunk.  Instead of us seeing the animals in the barn, we find the farmer and his wife inside their house in perfect winter contentment.  The farmer has brought in wood from the outside and his wife has made a pie from the apples.

Aside from the obvious lessons this book teaches about the seasons and their physical changes, a child gets to experience a bit of life on the farm.  Animal identification, each animal's special function on a farm, colors, counting, and sequencing can also be taught.  Children can explore the life cycle not only of a tree, but also can explore the fruit that a tree grows while learning a little about harvesting.  Children can also practice their dressing skills as they dress the two dolls correctly for the seasons.  What a delightful book to explore!

For Kids Only!, (For kids by kids) September, October 1999

Science Experiments

I had lots of fun with the Usborne Book of Science Experiments.  It was a very nice book.  It was fun to see what happened.  I rubbed a balloon against the wall like in one of the pictures.  It stuck to my hair!  I would recommend the book to everyone over the age of 9   unless parents help out.  I would especially recommend this book to teachers because there are a lot of experiments kids would love to try.  Most of the experiments that I tried worked.  The pictures were just perfect and showed every step of the way.  I think our author Jane Bingham did a wonderful job.  So, next time you are bored in school or you have a stomach ache you can refer to this book.

Carleigh Beriont
"Cub Columnist"

101 Things to Do on the Internet

I loved 101 Things to Do on the Internet.   It was appealing and pretty interesting.  I especially like how the websites that were shown varied.  Here's an example: htpp:/www.nick.com which of course has to do with TV.  Soooo, I'm sure you'll be visiting that one shortly.  I have.   I truly would recommend this book to families ages 1-1,000,000, girls or boys, ladies or gentlemen.  Simply because it tells you how to get on, how to chat, what equipment to use, shortcuts to websites, how to find things and a lot more!  Trust me. . . I have gone to a lot of websites and they are great.  The author Mark Wallace put some great work into this book.  So, if I were you, I'd definitely read it!

Carliegh Beriont
"Cub Columnist"

Insect World, August 1999

Bugs and Slugs

Although there has been an increase in "bug" books for beginning readers in past years, it's nice to see a new title that offers young readers a chance to explore common minibeast animals through words, color illustrations and flaps to lift.  This book provides a good introduction to common insects, spiders, worms, slugs and snails, and millipedes and centipedes for 4 to 6 year old children.

Gary A Dunn
Y.E.S. Education Director
Insect World Editor

King Features Weekly Wire Service, August 16 1999

Time Traveler Series

This series introduces a family and follows them through a series of experiences that includes work, school, festivals, shopping for food and more.  Each culture is fully described, along with a map and other illustrations that help your child gain a great deal of new information.  The EDC books include over 900 titles including history, science, nature, foreign language, and hobbies.  You may also want to obtain the First Thousand Word Series for children from 2-12 years.  These 64-page books are available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

Stevanne Auerback, PH.D.
aka Dr. Toy

Metrowest Daily News (Hudson, Mass),   Date N/A

Famous Women

Books about women
A stimulating, eclectic grouping of notable women, including: modern leaders, female fighters, robbers and rogues, caregivers, all at sea, aviators and astronauts, great businesswomen, and media stars.

Kings and Queens

Real people from history
A well-rounded look at royalty from Tutankhamun to Elizabeth II.  Chapter headings include: Life at a royal court, warrior queens, tragic monarchs, royal scandals, royal romances, mad monarchs, unsolved mysteries, pretenders, and burying a monarch (among others).  Lots of photos of jewels, and finally, an explanation (with diagrams) of how those ladies got their hairstyles to rise two feet above their heads!  There are fascinating stories of royal intrigue, betrayal, and madness.

- Allyson Button Stone
News Correspondent

Metrowest Daily News (Hudson, Mass),   Date N/A

Understanding Modern Art

This book demystifies the frequently bewildering world of modern art, and helps children judge that art from a more informed viewpoint.

Double page spreads consider major themes, such as nature, or city life.  There are, on each page, suggestions for other paintings or sculptures to look for, and also addresses are given for the museums that house the works profiled.  The author encourages the reader to go to museums and "see the real thing."

One of my favorite parts is a section called "Modern Art on Trial"  where three typical responses to the art are given and then debated by the authors.  "It isn't lifelike," "Anyone can do it," and "I can't understand it."  I have said all these things, and the explanations were very helpful and informative.  This book was an eye-opening learning experience, one I was delighted to share with my children.

Story of Painting

"The Usborne Story of Painting" by Anthea Peppin is noteworthy because it is essentially a textbook that looks almost like a graphic novel - each piece of text has an accompanying illustration to keep the material from ever getting dry or boring.

The book traces man's entire painting history, from cave paintings onward.  There are chapters on Egypt, the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Rococo and Neoclassical painting, Romantics and Realists, Impressions, modern painting, India, Far East, and primitive art  The author, who works in the Education Department of the National Gallery in London, seems to know just what will be interesting and useful to know.  There is also a very helpful index in this paperback.

- Allyson Button Stone
News Correspondent

Metrowest Daily News (Hudson, Mass),  Date N/A

Inventors, Scientist, Explorers

Hats off to Usborne for this rich look at the men and women whose ideas and creations have changed our lives.   "Inventors" profiles inventors from the earliest weapon chiselers to the inventors of the computer.  "Scientists" includes not only western scientific advancements, but early Oriental, Indian and Middle Eastern ideas, often overlooked.  Some long-neglected women scientists are given their due, as well.   "Explorers" includes dramatic accounts of famous and lesser-known explorers alike.  All the books are full of drawings, step-by-step guides, maps, reconstructions and detailed cutaway diagrams.

- Allyson Button Stone
News Correspondent

Metrowest Daily News (Hudson, Mass), June 1999

Plant it, water it, watch it grow!
Gardening books with kids in mind

Usborne Books takes a unique approach to children's nonfiction.  Their books are very engaging and full of humor and captivating illustrations.  Usborne writes for the child, not the parent, in the belief that nobody can learn unless the material is attractive and interesting.  In our own family, we discovered that Usborne books were read again and again, and that really helped expand vocabulary and hone problem solving and reasoning skills.

Usborne's line of gardening resources is no exception.  For the youngest gardeners, they offer "Starting Gardening Kid Kits," which comes with a small trow and seeds - enough to start a windowsill garden with flowers and herbs.  Also for younger children is the "Starting Gardening" book with beginners' techniques and step-by-step instructions.

"What Shall I Grow?" has clear instructions for starting a garden, as well as suggestions for taking basic projects a step further.  I loved the do-it-yourself sock "animals" with grass "hair."

Note: Usborne's "The Young Naturalist," while not a gardening book, is a practical guide that makes the back yard a magical place.  It is chock full of ideas for enjoying nature in your own back yard, and is designed specifically for the novice.

- Allyson Button Stone
News Correspondent

Aleene's Creative Living, June 1999

"Another fantastic way to introduce your kids to a variety of hobbies and fields is with Kid Kits from EDC Publishing that feature Usborne Books.

EDC (Educational Development Corporation) is the U.S. distributor of Usborne Books.  There are over 900 titles on subjects like hobbies, history, science, nature, foreign language, parent's guides and more.  Thanks to exceptional graphics, more pictures than text, etc., these books really draw the young readers in. . ."
                                                                                                                           - Kim Brawn

*** We encourage everyone to check out the complete story featuring
EDC Publishing and Usborne Books in the
June issue (pgs 23-24) of Aleene's Creative Living.***

Dallas Public Schools, Received June 1, 1999

Understanding Your Muscles & Bones

Cultural Groups or Groups Represented: African American, Asian American, European American, Hispanic American and the Physically Challenged

Potential Use: Highly recommended for (and by!) 4th grade muscular/skeletal focus.

Critique:  The Science teachers called the extraordinarily descriptive drawings "collages."  From the muscular hand represented on the introductory page, through vessel growth from baby to old lady (pp 24-25), all the way to "the largest recorded human bone" of "Amazing Facts" (p. 31), clarification of our muscles & bones is finally available!

Usborne Soccer School

Potential Use: Sports, Soccer Techniques

Critique:  Excellent illustrations and organization make this a worthwhile sports reference.  Especially worthwhile for middle school boys with limited English or reading skills.

First Dictionary

Potential Use: Will be checked out by younger students who love books of words.  Will also be used by non-English speaking older students who are learning English.

Critique:  This book introduces children to the dictionary; very simply presented.  About 1/3 of the entries on each page are illustrated.  Features include guide words, opposites, forms of a word and definitions using complete sentences.

School Library Journal, June, 1999

Build Your Own Web Site
101 Things to Do on the Internet

These series entries will fly off the shelves where Internet books are in demand.  Web Site focuses not only on how's but also on the why's, when's and where's of creating Web pages.  It explains how to create a Web site with a text editor, but the aesthetic and content advice hold true no matter what program is being used.  It is more detailed and thorough than Christopher Lampton's Home Page (Watts, 1997).  Internet delivers exactly what it claims.  Each double-page spread focuses on activities surrounding a theme, such as space, sports, music, games, movies, or weather.  While there are several other books of thematic Web sites for kids, this one provides a sampling of a wide variety of topics.  Both books have safety and security information, as well as the splashy, full-color pictures and chunked text that kids have grown to love.

Los Angeles Times, Sunday, May, 2, 1999

Expanded Spanish-Language Titles Entertain and Educate

The University of Houston's Arte Publico Press has, for years, billed itself as the largest and most established itself as the largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by U.S. Latino authors.  But in recent years a number of other publishers are stepping up to challenge Piñata Books, flooding the market with a wide array of original Spanish works, translations and bilingual books.

The British publisher Usborne, long a favorite of teachers, has been among the most active, issuing a number of educational books in this country through the Educational Development Corp. of Tulsa, Okla.  Among the most interesting is Usborne's Spanish-language "flip-flap" collection of three flap books for young readers.  Each is illustrated by the simple, inviting artwork of Maria Wheatley and each answers, in a simple, straightforward way, a question about body functions.

"¿Cómo de Hacen los Niños?" (by Alastair Smith, 16 pages, $9.95), for example, tastefully addresses the age-old question, Where do babies come from?

Aided by seven flapped pages, short, crisply written text blocks, the book follows a baby's development from conception to birth.  Other books in the series, which is targeted at beginning readers (and their parents) are "¿Para Qué Sirven los Sentindos?" (by Judy Tatchell) and "¿Qué Pasa Cuando Comes?" (also by Alastair Smith)

Also in translation from Usborne is "¿Qué Hacemos Hoy?" (by Roy Gibson; 96 pages, $18.95), which offers dozens of creative activities for young artists. Illustrations by Amanda Barlow, Chris Chaisty and Michaela Kennard accompany simple step-by-step instructions that show children how to draw, paint and make everything from pipe-cleaner bracelets and paper fish to vegetable people and plastic parachutes.

Usborne also has a couple of bilingual puzzle books for young readers - "La Isla Fantástica/Fantastic Island" and "El Castillo Misteriso/ Mystery Castle" (both by Susannah Leigh with illustrations by Brenda Haw; 24 pages; 55.95) - which are notable mostly for the English/Spanish word list and pronunciation guide at the back of the book and for the vocabulary building keys accompanying each two-page puzzle.

Parents Magazine, April, 1999

Understanding the Facts of Life

This wonderful and comprehensive book was featured on a list of "Best Books" explaining puberty in the the April issue of Parents Magazine (page 190).

LifeWorks Magazine (an on line magazine), May, 1999

The Magic Toyshop

Children of all ages will have fun discovering the differences from page to page.  Even young children enjoy looking at the toys and identifying them.  Kids never tire of looking at toys.  A great idea from Usborne!

Puzzle Ocean

More than a book, Puzzle Ocean is an adventure!  Your child will be thrilled at the completion of each puzzle. . . and if they get stuck, the answers are in the back.  A great way to learn about the world down-under.  Usborne produces another great educational pass-time.  Your child won't notice their reading and learning. . . it's just too much FUN!

Rainy Day Book

Don't worry about running out of ideas for indoor activities with the Usborne Rainy Day Book, which includes games, paper projects, cooking, jokes, experiment, decorations. . . and much more!

Birds of North America Kid Kit

The entire family will enjoy learning about different species of birds while building this wonderful bird house.

Book of Magic Kid Kit

Help your child learn the tricks of magic with this fun magic book and kit.

MarketPlace Magazine, May, 1999

Bible Stories from the Old Testament

Designed as a turnabout reading book, this title for young children includes Old Testament stories about Noah, Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel, and Jonah.  The beginning reader is to take on the short, simple text at the top of the page, while an adult is expected to read the longer text at the bottom.   Colorful, full-page illustrations enhance and enrich the text.

For families with beginning readers, this may be a helpful book for building comprehension skills and learning new words, as well as for familiarizing children with Old Testament characters and their stories.

School Library Journal, May, 1999

World History Dates

By combining a fairly dry, annal-style time-line format with brief topical essays, Chisholm has created a volume likely to be as useful for teachers introducing a time period or geographic area as it is for student reports.  The double-page chronologies are broken into columns for each geographic area included within a specific range of dates - for example, "The Ancient World, 1000-501 BC" features Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Americas.   Students can move from column to column to learn that in about 700 BC, the Scythians spread from Central Asia to Eastern Europe; the Lydians developed coins; cattle and sheep were domesticated in West Africa; and Monte founded in Mexico.  In "The Dark Ages, 700-899," the columns shift to Southern and Western Europe; Northern and Eastern Europe; Africa and the Middle East; the Far East; and the Americas.   The short essays, generally also contained on double-page spreads, include such topics as the Vikings, the British in India, ancient Egypt, the scramble for Africa, and the Cold War.  Small, colorful drawings, photos, and maps appear throughout.   While the book makes no attempt to provide an in-depth look at any of its topics, a remarkable amount of information is surveyed and is made more accessible by a detail index.  On the other hand, the appendix, "Monarchs and political leaders," is limited to the various components of the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

Children's Literature, April 1999

The Young Naturalist Kid Kit

The Young Naturalist is part of a kit from Usborne that also contains a pencil, notebook, light-sensitive nature print paper and a device called the Optic Wonder.  The instrument fits in a pocket, and it serves as a compass, magnifying glass, binoculars, and more.  It can be used in conjunction with many of the activities and experiments described in the book.  These activities help kids learn about nature and the independence of life on earth.  It is a great combination to take along on an outdoor trip or a vacation.

Puget Sound Council, March 1999

Treasure Hunting

The subtitle of this book is "How the World's Most Interesting Treasures Were Found" with the introduction that defines treasure to be anything people value enough and want to find.  The table of contents divides the book into sections on buried treasure, treasures of the sea (e.g. the Titanic, of course) and ancient treasures (e.g. pyramids, Caves at Lascaux).  What follows is a fascinating glimpse into twenty-four treasure situations, wetting the reader's appetite for more information.  There is a short discussion of differences in motivations of treasure hunters and law regarding who owns treasures that they find. 

Build Your Own Website

This 48-page paperback is an excellent source for those who want to build a web site.  The steps are clear and concise, indicating what is necessary.  There are plenty of web addresses to answer a reader's questions.   Interested computer users of any age could benefit from this book.

Puzzle Train

This 32-page paperback cartoon-like book follows young Alex helping the conductor and the fireman drive the Puzzle Train to the seashore.  Jaz and Jez and their pet crow, Caw, are competing (mostly unfairly) to get to the seashore first.  Each two-page spread after the introduction is a puzzle of one sort or another for younger readers to solve.  There are items to find throughout the book and Caw, the crow, is lurking somewhere on each double page.   Answers are included at the back.  This is a fun book for home or library purchase.

Complete Book of Astronomy & Space

This book offers an overview of expected topics (e.g. planets, stars, constellations) with a two-page spread for each topic.   Layout of pages, short paragraphs of text, and colorful illustrations or photos make the book relatively easy to read.  Since the information on each topic is, however, quite limited, the book might be more useful for a classroom library or home use.   Table of contents, charts of data, glossary, websites, and an index are included.

Complete Book of the Microscope

This 96-page book offers a comprehensive view of what can be seen with a microscope, with emphasis on optical microscopes students use, but with many pictures from electron or scanning electron microscopes.  In addition to an introduction to "the micro world," topics include the human body, plants and fungi, insects, and geology.  A short discussion of nanotechnology is included.   The activities throughout the book included safety warnings, when necessary.   Helps are included for buying a microscope and what equipment to buy.  Table of contents, glossary, index.

Puzzle Journey Around the World

Three youngsters, Eli, Su and Em, shopping with Aunt Rose, get bored, go into a strange store, stuffed with an incredible assortment of items.  They buy an old globe and a carpet bag that lead the three all around the world, following puzzles all the way.  There are items to find on each page (Where's X item?), some mazes, and a geography jaunt for readers.  Answers are included at the back.  This colorful 32-page paperback is fun for home or library purchase.

Stars and Planets

BIG BOOK format to share with a group learning about the solar system.  Basic information with colorful planets, appropriate moons, interspersed with useful information for discussion starters such as "Uranus - as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope" and a picture of one of the first men on the Moon.  The sun, asteroids, comets, and space station and flights into space are included.  Book was adapted from information originally used in The Usborne Complete Book of Astronomy & Space.  Second grade teachers agreed that this is a must buy.

Que Pasa Cuando Comes?

A Spanish language book about the digestive system.  The book has flip pages on each right hand page.  The students that this reviewer shared the book with included a new student who only speaks Spanish.   he was able to read to the others and the English speaking students asked for the book in English.

Parenting Plus, March 1999

Camping and Walking

This colorfully illustrated book covers all you need to know about camping, walking, orienteering, or just exploring the countryside.   Interesting ideas and sound advice for all ages.

Camping Out

This story, designed for beginning readers, is a delightful tale of the camping adventures of Poppy and Sam on Apple Tree Farm.   Your child will want to read this one over and over again while having loads of fun finding the little yellow ducky hidden on every colorful page!

Improve Your Survival Skills

Packed with reliable expert information and a wealth of facts about survival kits, first aid, food, shelter and map reading.  While stressing the importance of avoiding unnecessary risk, the book encourages you to develop initiative to become a true survivor.

Children's Literature, February 1999

Story of Music

An expansive coverage of music, starting from a 10,000 year old cave painting which shows people clapping, this beautifully illustrated book is also a good source for dance information.  Different periods, such as medieval and baroque, are discussed along with the instruments used and dances developed at that time.  There are also sections on opera, blues, modern music and special musical forms from the Middle East, Far East and Africa.  The book closes with suggestions for listening to representative compositions from each type of music.

- Judy Chernak

School Library Journal, February, 1999

Children's Songbook

This serviceable collection includes 35 songs, with musical arrangements and chords for a variety of instruments.  Among the selections offered are typical nursery songs such as "Twinkle, twinkle, little star" and "The grand old Duke of York"; songs for older children such as "She'll be coming round the mountain" and "Yankee Doodle"; a few unusual choices such as "Cockles and mussels" and "Lewis Wedding Song"; and several holiday songs.  The musical arrangements are simple . . . , making them accessible for inexperienced musicians.  Small figures decorate the pages, many of them illustrating the lyrics. 

- Jane Marino

Book Page, January, 1999

Cooking For Beginners

Expecting 100 of your closest friends for a Super Bowl party?  Why not let the kids help?  Learning to cook is a fine goal for winter days, and it's an easier goal for older children if they have the right guide.   Roz Denny and Fiona Watt have written the Usborne Cooking School series with this in mind.  Cooking For Beginners opens with equipment and tools labeled in the first few pages.  Proper placement of pans on the stove and other cautions are given.  Two pages of cooking hints prepare the cook to follow the recipes better.  Under each recipe, steps are clearly written and carefully illustrated for easy understanding.  A photograph of the finished recipe accompanies each entry.  The tasty recipes also make a nice presentation the entire family can enjoy.

Fiona Watt authors the two companion books, Cakes and Cookies For Beginners and Pasta and Pizza For Beginners.   These are full of good recipes; beginners will find the ease, variety, and flavor of each recipe encouraging.

Learning Magazine, January, 1999

101 Things to Do With Your Computer

This book guides kids (and teachers!) in learning how to send multimedia greetings, create onscreen games, or design Web pages - all using standard computer programs. 

** This title was considered for a 1998 "Teacher's Choice Award" and was chosen in the first through third rounds of judging.**

School Library Journal, January 1999

Complete Book of Astronomy & Space

This terse but unusually broad survey of the extraterrestrial universe and our exploration of it combines basic background information with practical advice for stargazers and sky photographers.  After briefly explaining just what the physical universe is comprised of, the authors tell the planets and other components of the solar system, followed by a page of thumbnail biographies of eminent astronomers.  They move on to discuss stellar types and life cycles; linger over 88 constellations visible from either hemisphere; suggest tips for using binoculars, telescopes, and cameras most effectively; and then recapitulate some of the previous information through charts.  The color illustrations are artists' renderings and photographs.  Without giving the pages a busy look, the designers have done a good gob of staving off visual monotony by changing background colors, type sizes, and picture shapes from one topical spread to the next.

- John Peters, New York Public Library

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