I know what you’re thinking, "It’s barely November, and those wacky GeekDads have already put up their holiday gift guide!" Well, lookee here, we’ve got so many great ideas we’ve decided to break them out into categories, spreading them out between now and oh, I dunno, the third week of December. We’ve got suggestions for GeekKids, GeekDads, and even GeekMoms. Stay tuned!
One of the best kids’ books of the year, this book is written as a "Young Adult" novel but that doesn’t mean adults can’t read it! It’s an incredibly timely story about the rise of totalitarianism in the U.S. and the earnest — not to mention completely credible — war a gaggle of hacker kids wage against the darkness. Read our review or buy it from Amazon.
Pocket Paper Engineer, Volume 2
Last year we discovered Carol Barton’s wonderful Pocket Paper Engineer, a pop-up book that lives by the motto "give a man a fish, feed him for a day, but teach him how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime." Carol combined beautiful illustrations with detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to assemble all the pieces to a cool pop-up book. Well, she’s back with more. Volume 2 continues to amaze with easy-to-follow guides and sample projects that teach the means and methods to creating wonderful 3-D stories. Once your kids are done with the book, they’ll be ready to start with the rest of their imaginations. You can pick up the book at her own website, Popular Kinetcs (likely to net her a bigger share of the sales price), or via Amazon.
This book explores crafts for kids, ranging from making your own stuffed animals to printing a zine or designing an alphabet. Graffiti wristbands, decoupage purses, book plates! All of the projects described were actually done by kids and the results displayed, giving the book a genuine feel. Read our review or buy it from Amazon.
Where the Deep Ones Are
Looking for a way to envelope your children into the profound mystery and immense horror of H.P. Lovecraft — without placing the fear of the Great Old Ones deep in their hearts and minds? Here is a solution to that ancient problem. Where the Deep Ones Are is a very polished send-up of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are retold as Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth. Both the words and pictures are delightfully close to Sendak’s original work and the bringing together of two such classics works well. And besides, who can resist lines like: “The Deep Ones croaked their terrible croaks, and smacked their terrible lips, and rolled their terrible eyes, and waved their terrible flippers.” Pick it up from Call of Cthulhu publisher Chaosium.
Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments
In a time when liability lawsuits, No Child Left Behind and anti-science movements abound, learning about chemistry seems to be on the decline. Even chemistry sets, once the best way to learn about the subject at home, have been dumbed down with most of the ‘interesting’ experiments taken out. The Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments brings it all back. Chock full of advice, materials lists and lots of cool experiments, this book has what you need to advance your child’s education. Read our review or buy it from Amazon.
The indispensable guide for the parent whose child is engrossed in the Bionicle universe. Now you can speak for twenty minutes on the twisted relationship between Mata-Nui and the Barraki. The kids might like it too. Buy it from Amazon.com.
Guerilla Art Kit
When most people hear the term ‘guerilla art’ they think of graffiti or other putatively antisocial or destructive forms of self expression, but the reality is far more complicated. Whether it’s marginalia, notes shoved in library books, randomly mailed postcards, moss graffiti, fortune cookie fortunes shoved into random locations, the Guerilla Art Kit has ideas for subtly touching the world around us. There are chapters covering guerilla etiquette, stencil making, rubber stamps, stickers, and formulating environmentally benign poster glue. I was bowled over by the chapter on guerilla gardening. Imagine beautifying a rundown neighborhood by scattering wildflower seeds in sidewalk cracks, empty planters, and fenced off industrial lots. Read our review or buy it from Amazon.
Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail
Some around puberty, many girls start hating math. This book aims to counter that unfortunate phenomenon by describing various mathematical concepts in ways that middle school girls understand. Written by actor and mathematician Danica McKellar, the book attempts to teach girls about important mathematical concepts like ratios, fractions and so on by speaking pop culturese that girls have come to expect from materials directed at them. With chapter titles such as "Why Calculators Would Make Terrible Boyfriends (Converting Fractions and Mixed Numbers to Decimals)" McKellar uses a playful and sassy tone in describing very dry and uninteresting concepts. Read our review or buy it from Amazon.
The Everything Kids’ Cookbook
A great way to introduce your kids to the kitchen. Written by a registered dietician specializing in child nutrition, this book is crammed with cooking tips, recipes, puzzles, and more. Recipe ideas include quesadillas, caramel corn, fruit smoothies along with recipes for bubbles and finger paints. It’s a fun way for your children to be comfortable with cooking and even plan the family’s dinner menu. Buy it from Amazon.
Former LEGO employees build the MINDSTORMS models their bosses never let them! Various not-terribly-unsafe launchers including a neat auto-loading gun are described in the book. One of the neatest aspects of the book is the authors’ insider perspective on the legendary toy company. Read the review or buy it from Amazon.
D&D 4th Edition Rulebook Set
Wizards of the Coast totally revamped Dungeons & Dragons to appeal to a younger set. Featuring rapid leveling and frequent acquisition of feats and powers, this is a different Dungeons & Dragons than a lot of curmudgeonly naysayers grew up with. Nevertheless, the rules are elegantly organized, thoroughly thought out and beautifully illustrated. Read our review (part 1, part 2 and part 3) or buy it from Amazon.