In Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes, author, educator and Emmy Award-winning TV science wizard Steve Spangler conjures new tricks for kids, kidders and kids at heart. He makes it easy to transform ordinary household stuff into extraordinary outcomes, most of which tend to “ooze, bubble, fizz, bounce and smoke,” not to mention spew diet soda 12 feet into the air. Even the seemingly simple are fun: Who knew a hex nut could make a balloon scream? A few experiments are particularly suitable for Halloween parties, such as the gloriously gross cornstarch/borax goo (which made a kid lose his lunch at my daughter’s fifth birthday party), the giant smoke rings and all activities involving dry ice. Spangler’s fun-centric approach insists “it’s not about the science, it’s about the experience,” but parents and teachers can be assured the science is solid; experiments are framed with easy-to-understand explanations and real-world applications.

Turkish Delight & Treasure Hunts by Jane Brocket is a collection of recipes, activities and, as the author describes them, “'I want to do that!’ moments” culled from beloved books like Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins, The Chronicles of Narnia and so on—books in which children always seem to be eating or doing “all sorts of marvelous things.” Each marvelous thing gets a brief introduction to establish context, to remind us why these classics are so formative to our lives and to entice us to read classics we may have overlooked. Readers can now bake Ma’s Hand-Sweetened Cornbread from Little House on the Prairie, whip up Enid Blyton cocoa, munch “Wind in the Willows River Picnic Cress Sandwiges” and try “Heidi’s Grandfather’s Simple Cheese and Bread Supper.” We can also make a Borrowers house, try Alice in Wonderland croquet, learn poems by heart just like Anne of Green Gables and plant a Secret Garden. Aside from being a charming excuse to revisit favorite stories, Turkish Delight & Treasure Hunts is a ready-made opportunity to connect with young readers who “need to find out about the things children have always done [and] to make their own literary discoveries.”

Even the healthiest-minded readers of Candy Construction by Sharon Bowers may want to rush out and buy ridiculously large amounts of candy for the children in their lives. My own whole-food, organic scruples have been chocolate-chipped away by this seductive volume. Why? Because these sweet creations are not just cute as a (candy) button and easy as (moon) pie, they are seriously fun to make. And I mean fun to make with kids, not merely for kids, because even though the end product might be fabulous, the real goal is in the messy, focused, cooperative and creative process. With a few building materials—frosting “glue,” store-bought brownies, Rice Krispie treats and other no-bake structural elements—plus basic dollar-store candy, kids can make pirate ships, pyramids, steam trains, construction sites, fairy-tale castles, creepy critters, games and even jewelry, all 100% edible. Simple instructions and big color photos bring out the inner engineer in all of us. Perfect for a group activity at birthday or holiday parties, or for one of those days when folks are trapped indoors.

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