Best older kid's literature from 1966


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a true-blue fan of intermediate-reader adventures published during the Sixties (1964–73). Attribute this, if you will, to the fact that these books were popular when I was an impressionable adolescent in the late 1970s. The fact remains, the Sixties were a cornucopia producing a flood of extraordinary titles: Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series, Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Joan Aiken’s Wolves Chronicles series, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, E.L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Sure, I dig older kids’ lit from other eras, too. But nothing compares.

In anticipation of their 50th anniversaries, this year, here’s my list of the Best Older Kid’s Lit of 1966. Please let me know which favorite titles of yours I’ve overlooked!

OLDER KIDS’ LIT on HILOBROW: Best of 1963 | Best of 1964 | Best of 1965 | Best of 1966 | Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Lost Prince (serialized) | YA Sci-Fi | ALSO SEE: Best 1966 Adventures (for Grownups).


In no particular order…

René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo’s bande dessinée Asterix adventure Asterix the Legionary. The tenth Asterix story is a particular favorite of mine — because it is a sardonic inversion of one of my favorite sub-genres of adventure: the all-for-one, one-for-all argonautica. In order to rescue a Gaul who has been conscripted into the Roman army and shipped to North Africa, where Julius Caesar was battling Metellus Scipio, Asterix and Obelix enlist in the army themselves. Read the rest

The delight of the unexpected moment when your child comes upon a character at a Disney park


With the unsettling closure and uncertain future of a vast original area of Disneyland which has remained mostly undisturbed since park opening in 1955, it seems fitting to reflect upon some things which made it memorable. This is the first of a series of pieces, and also the most indirect — it’ll take me six paragraphs to make my real point.

One thing every parent knows is the delight of “the unexpected moment” when your child comes upon a character at a Disney park without warning.

There’s less of that these days, with “Character Meet and Greets” having been turned into controlled experiences and fewer instances of the characters simply walking the parks and freely mingling with the guests. (You tend to see much more of this at the Tokyo Disney Resort.)

On a trip to Disneyland when my daughter was about 4 or 5 years old just under a decade ago, we entered the park early, passed through Main Street, and were taking the walkway up to Sleeping Beauty Castle that curves to the right, past Snow White’s Grotto. The white marble statues of Snow White and the Dwarfs were a gift from the Ambassador of Italy, I explained to my daughter. They reside in a man-made grotto with a waterfall.

On the walkway itself is a full-size replica of the wishing well from the film Snow White. If you lean over and listen, you will hear Snow White singing. My daughter was listening intently, looking into the well, and when she turned around there was Snow White — pretty, indeed, as a picture. Read the rest

There's a new version of The Little Prince pop-up book


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

The Little Prince, published in 1943, is a classic, emotionally stirring novella written by a French author that has since become the third most translated book in the world. With so many adaptions to both screen and stage, including a major animated motion picture debuting in the United States in 2016, you might be forgiven for assuming that the story has little more to offer in the way of novelty. One covetous glance at this enormous, intricate deluxe pop-up book and you’ll understand how very wrong you are. This tale of the enduring power of friendship, told by a narrator stranded in the sands of the Sahara, rises from the pages and extends into your world with enchanting, whimsical paper art.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry proclaims himself no “great artist” and this pop-up book stays true to the delicate pastels of the watercolors he used to create The Little Prince’s illustrations. The book begins with the Little Prince himself, being held aloft from the title page by a harnessed flock of birds, the white and pale gray of each wing a stark contrast to the enveloping black mass of the space that surrounds him. Beginning pages are full of hidden doors, windows and flaps that contain treasures of minuscule fold out animals and tiny doodles. As the classic tale unfolds and we learn more about the Little Prince’s miniature home planet, the pop-up art evolves into cratered orbs that spin at the pull of a tab or twist their flower clustered faces to the warmth of a rising sun stretching above the page. Read the rest

Introducing Boing Boing's Maker Box

MKR_FB is launching a brand new Maker Box subscription. This new Maker box features DIY kits and hands-on projects perfect for makers of all ages. You’ll receive kits to build your own gadgets, electronics, quirky tools, and more. Each quarter will feature a new curator, new ideas and new projects. The first curator is Boing Boing! Each box will contain at least 3 kits and will cost $100. The box ships in February. Read the rest

Arizona starts using Facebook and Twitter to publicly shame 'Deadbeat Dads'


Fathers in Arizona who aren't delivering court-ordered child support payments may discover their mugs plastered all over social media soon. Arizona governor Doug Ducey this week unveiled a bizarre new name-and-shame campaign to publicly mock so-called “deadbeat dads,” a crackdown on "the worst of the worst" parents who fail to make child support payments.

Read the rest

New book teaches Python programming with Minecraft


In this beginner friendly book, called Learn to Program with Minecraft, you will learn how to do cool things in Minecraft using the Python programming language. No prior programming experience is needed. Author Craig Richardson shows you how to install Python (it's free) on your Mac, PC, or Raspberry Pi. The book has step-by-step instructions to show you how to teleport your character, create palaces and other structures with a few lines of code, stack blocks, duplicate villages and geography, and a lot more.

Read the rest

Robo-Sauce is a brilliant twist on both storytelling and book design


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Robo-Sauce starts out as a mere picture book, then – with a few paper folds and a little imagination – transforms into a ROBOT picture book. The story starts out normally enough – when a boy can’t get enough of pretending to be a robot, he wishes for a potion that will actually turn him into one. And what do you know? The off-camera narrator happens to have the recipe for just such a potion. After dousing himself in the day-glo orange “robo-sauce,” the boy becomes a rather jerky and destructive robot – punching down a fruit stand with his robo-fist and blasting open a water tower with his laser eyes. When the startled narrator tries to offer the antidote to robo-sauce, the robo-boy promptly disintegrates it, then proceeds to slosh the noxious liquid all over his family, dog, friends, and pretty much anything else in sight. EVERYTHING transforms into a robot, and when the robo-sauce inevitably seeps over the words in the story, even the book turns into a robot. A page folds out, and instructs readers how to re-fold it to activate the robo-book. The larger fold-out page essentially turns into an alternate book jacket, and the last few pages in the story are full of beeps, boops, and, of course, robots. But one final page turn reveals that all the shenanigans were the result of one family’s afternoon of imaginative play.

Robo-Sauce is a brilliant twist on both storytelling and book design. Read the rest

Undertale offers a new spin on retro RPG video games


Undertale is a new 8bit RPG that's much different from the rest. In most games, you have to kill bosses and monsters to survive. In this game, it’s up to you whether you want to kill anyone, and depending on your choices, you can make friends that you would have lost, engage in secret fights, and much more. You have so many choices in the game that you can replay it over and over to achieve all the endings. But be careful, because even if you reset the game, some characters might have a vague memory of you.

The fighting style of Undertale is also unique. When an enemy attacks you, instead of automatically losing your health, you can dodge their attack by moving your “soul” across the screen to avoid being hit. Because of this, you don’t have to lose any damage throughout the battle.

Undertale starts by your character falling down a giant hole at the top of a mountain and waking up in a world full of monsters. They were all banished to live apart from society for the rest of their lives by humans who sealed them underground with a magic spell. The monsters have figured out that the only way to undo the spell is to have the power of seven souls, but since monsters’ souls disappear after they die, they’ve spent years killing the humans who fall into the underground to gain their souls. Because of this, most of them want to kill you so they can leave, but it’s up to you if you want to hurt them back, or show them that you both can find peace. Read the rest

Wink 2015 Holiday Gift Guide: What Kids Want


It’s mid-December folks. Like a bullet train. White knuckle time. With parties in motion and merry children abound, it’s time to jump on the fast track with those holiday gifts. And Wink’s gift guide is your golden ticket. The fun stuff on this week’s list focuses on the kiddos in your life. (For grown-ups, check out Gareth Branwyn’s Picks and Cheapies But Goodies Under $20.)

Juxtabo Ages 6 and up $30 Buy on AmazonFull review and more images

Much like a colorful, 3D version of dominoes, Juxtabo has simple rules that allow children as young as six years old to play. The strategy encourages development of quick pattern recognition, but also flexibility as you plan, since the "board" changes with every turn… Juxtabo is the recipient of the 2015 Academics' Choice Brain Toy Award …avid puzzlers beware – Juxtabo just may prove addictive! – Chloe Quimby

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling (author) and Jim Kay (illustrator) (Arthur A. Levine Books) $24 Buy on AmazonFull review and more images

You may have read Harry Potter before, but you've never read it like this. Almost every page features some kind of full-color illustration by artist Jim Kay. Illustrations come in a wide variety of forms, ranging from small page ornamentations to whole page spreads. The full-page illustrations have a ton of detail and color and will likely make you stop mid-page to appreciate them. It never occurred to me that Harry Potter required illustrations, but after reading this it's clear why someone thought they would make for a good experience. Read the rest

Meet Yuna: the first Asian American girl to be the center of a doll line


Our friends at Bigshot Toyworks are kickstarting a new line of dolls called Dream BIG Friends. I saw the prototypes at DCon in Pasadena a couple of weeks and they are beautiful.

After watching their own kids play, David Horvath and Sun Min (Award Winning Designers of Uglydoll) began a discussion with Klim Kozinevich (Creative Director of Bigshot Toyworks) and wondered; what if there was more? The worlds of princesses and pixies, fashion models and super heroes are all fantastic, but something was missing. The trio set out to create a unique personality in a small plastic body, focusing on aspirational, inspirational and imaginative play. Something that would encourage kids around the world to embrace what makes them who and what they are, inside and out. With all that in mind, Yuna was born!

Yuna is the very first doll in an all new line called Dream BIG Friends. She's also the first Asian American girl to be the center of a doll line! She loves science, travel, rockets, art, design, and Korean food. Her BIG dream is to run a company designing rockets that will one day take her to Mars. She'll be the first one to stand on the planet's surface, naturally. With your help, she’s sure to get there.

Today heralds the launch of a Kickstarter campaign for Dream BIG Friends, where you can invite Yuna and her cat Kamata into your home.

There have been many discussions about body types and unrealistic proportions and attitudes imposed through children's toys these days.

Read the rest

The Official ScratchJr Book: help your young kids learn to code


You're probably familiar with Scratch, the introductory programming language that allows kids (and adults) to create interactive stories, games, and animations. Scratch doesn't require lines of code to write programs. Instead, you build programs by snapping together colored blocks. (My book, Maker Dad, has an introduction to Scratch that shows how to make retro-style video games).

Scratch is perfect for kids 8 and up. Recently, MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten Lab announced the release of ScratchJr, an even simpler programming language for young children (ages 5-7) to create interactive stories and games. It's free and runs on iPads and Android tablets.

Mitchel Resnick, who runs MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten Lab, and Marina Umaschi Bers, a professor in the Computer Science Department at Tufts University, have a new book out called, The Official ScratchJr Book: Help Your Kids Learn to Code. The publisher sent me a copy, and it looks like a great way for parents to learn about ScratchJr so they can get their kids up to speed and let them go off on their own. With full color screenshots on every page, it provides a thorough overview of everything ScratchJr is capable of doing. Read the rest

Easy 1+2+3 projects from the pages of Make


Back in 2004, when designer David Albertson and I were creating a prototype for the magazine that would become MAKE, one the things we came up with was an item called 1+2+3. It was a one-pager with instructions for making a simple project in three steps. We ended up incorporating 1+2+3s into every issue of MAKE. This book collects 69 fully-illustrated 1+2+3 projects (including several that I wrote and illustrated) from the pages of MAKE.

Have you ever wanted to make your own "dice popper" (as seen in the game Trouble)? This book will show you how. You'll also learn how to make a projector that shines an alien head on the wall, an amusing "wobbler" made from two coins, a box that makes a great "boing" sound effect, a light-up hoodie, a simple motor, a $5 smart phone projector, and many more projects. This is a great book to go through with your kids. I guarantee they will say "Let's make that!" at least a few times. Read the rest

Meet the 9-year-old "King of the $1 Record Bins"


My son Lux, age 9, is an avid record collector. Unlike me, Lux has the patience to dig through the $1 bins wherever there is cheap vinyl to be had: thrift shops, garage sales, flea markets, record swaps, and of course record stores. (His favorite record shops in the San Francisco Bay Area are Mill Valley Music and Amoeba.) Veteran audio journalist and record collector Michael Fremer interviewed Lux for his site, Analog Planet. (Thanks, David Hyman!)

Below, Lux and I after Record Store Day 2015!

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The latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid is as fresh and humorous as books 1-9


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Diary keeper Greg Heffley can’t just endure middle school in peace. His helicopter mom is working on a petition to get people to stop using electronics for 48 hours. His new pet pig, who’s learned to walk on two legs, gets more house privileges than he does. And even more annoying, his Grandpa, who can’t pay his rent at Leisure Towers anymore, has moved into Greg’s bedroom, which means Greg now has to sleep on the floor of his baby brother’s room. Worst of all, Greg ends up on the school camping trip to Hardscrabble Farms, which lives up to its reputation for being the worse camp ever.

The just-released Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School is the tenth book in the series, and happily it’s just as fresh and humorous as its predecessors. In fact, I laughed so loud while sitting alone on the couch of our living room, I was worried someone would spy me and think I’d finally gone around the bend (why do I always feel this way when I’m laughing out loud by myself?). The theme is old school vs. new school, or old geezers’ ways of doing things versus progress, and whether or not you’ve read books 1-9, Old School is a fun read for any age.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Jeff Kinney Harry N. Abrams 2015, 224 pages, 5.8 x 8.2 x 0.9 inches $8 Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest

Animal Upon Animal – A super cute, fun kid's game that adults can also enjoy


See more photos at Wink Fun.

Animal Upon Animal is a dice-rolling and stacking game where you take 7 animals and roll a die that determines how you take your turn and how you need to stack those pieces upon the animals that have come before.

It’s not quite as simple as just stacking. The die faces range from widening the base that starts with the big green alligator, to handing off pieces to other people who then have to stack them. Another face has players telling you which piece you’ll have to place on the remarkably unstable pile of animals growing in the middle of your table. The other faces are numbers of pieces that you can place. If you topple the tower, you have to take at most 2 of the pieces. First player to exhaust their set of animals wins.

While it’s marketed as a children’s game, and I’ve played it as such (my 3-year-old daughter destroyed me), I’ve also played it with adults, and it was just as fun. There’s a great equalizer in stacking games that tiny fingers turn out to be more dexterous than you’d think. The pieces are of the great quality that you would expect from HABA games but with enough curved edges to make them difficult to stack. – James Orr

Animal Upon Animal – A super cute, fun kid's game that adults can also enjoy

Animal Upon Animal HABA Ages 4 and up, 2-4 players $19 Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest

Pie Face – If you get the wrong number, this slapstick comedy game will fling a faceful of whipped cream


See more photos at Wink Fun.

A cream pie in the face! It’s an ageless slapstick comedy routine that is also the inspiration for Hasbro’s Pie Face Game. Thanks in part to a viral video that’s making its rounds on social media, this equally ageless game is destined to be a hit this holiday season. Pie Face is as easy as pie to setup and play, although clean-up will be required. To get started, players attach the purple Chin Rest and Splash Card Mask to the Pie Thrower base, which comprises two handles and a throwing arm in the shape of a hand. After setting the throwing arm in place, you add the pièce de résistance: a dollop of whipped cream from your kitchen.

The rules of the game dictate that the youngest player goes first. A numbered spinner determines how many times a player must turn the handles of the pie thrower. Each player then places his or her chin on the Chin Rest with face protruding through the opening in the splash card (which is thankfully made of laminated, washable plastic). A point is awarded for each successful click of the handle that does NOT result in the player getting a face full of whipped cream. If a player completes a turn without getting hit, the points double. For the faint of heart, partial turns are allowed. For example, if a player spins a 4, he or she may elect to turn the handle only 2 times. But, this strategy comes with a price: you can’t score double points. Read the rest

Juxtabo – Create patterns with colored chips for a fast-paced mental workout


See more photos at Wink Fun.

Funnybone has yet another award-winning strategy game available for your enjoyment – Juxtabo. Much like a colorful, 3D version of dominoes, Juxtabo has simple rules that allow children as young as six years old to play. The strategy encourages development of quick pattern recognition, but also flexibility as you plan, since the “board” changes with every turn. Juxtabo allows up to four players to compete with one another. 

The playing pieces are two-sided chips, each side a different color, arranged in a 5x5 configuration. Players draw their own chips, as well as pattern cards. Players win pattern cards by creating that pattern on the board with chips in their hand. The catch? To stack a chip on the board, you must match the color facing down on your chip with the color facing up on the “board.” With a timer included, it's a fast-paced mental workout. 

 If the description alone doesn’t intrigue you, Juxtabo is the recipient of the 2015 Academics’ Choice Brain Toy Award (among others). That means this game has been approved by parents, educators, students and children, scientists and artists alike. The game comes highly recommended, of course, but avid puzzlers beware – Juxtabo just may prove addictive! – Chloe Quimby

Juxtabo Funnybone Toys Ages 6 and up, 1-4 players $30 Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest

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