For Halloween, learning about skeletons, and some tips on the art of the pumpkin

BOOKS FOR KIDS

October 14, 1994|By Molly Dunham Glassman | Molly Dunham Glassman,Sun Staff Writer

Here's a look at a couple of books to get a head start on Halloween, as well as events to check out locally.

* "Skeletons: An Inside Look at Animals," written by Jinny Johnson, illustrated by Elizabeth Gray (Readers' Digest Kids, $16.96, 46 pages, ages 7 and up) is a reference book that will have children learning fascinating facts by accident.

It's gorgeous, with glossy black pages that measure 10 inches by 13 inches. Eighteen creatures are featured, and a double-page spread is devoted to each. There's a huge illustration of the animal's skeleton, with different bones identified. It's supplemented with an illustration of the creature with skin, shell and/or feathers intact, along with a horizontal display of the animal in action and a well-written description that packs a lot of facts into just eight or nine paragraphs.

The creatures -- which range from a pit viper to a blue whale to a human being -- are also shown in silhouette next to a human, for a size comparison. Sure, a book about bones is stretching the Halloween theme, but any holiday is a good excuse for giving someone a book.

* Already the pumpkins are showing up on stoops and in bay windows, so it's not too early to buy a guide on getting the most out of a jack-o'-lantern. "Pumpkin Heads," written by Lara Rice Bergen, illustrations by Bari Weissman (Grosset & Dunlap, $5.95, pages, all ages), is a how-to book on slicing, dicing, carving and painting pumpkins.

In addition to glow-in-the-dark stickers that children can paste on as eyes, noses and mouths, there are four pages of stencils to cut out and use as carving guides. Safety hints abound, as do hints on using recycled materials (bottle caps for a nose, broom straws for whiskers) and recipes for roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread.

* John Archambault, best known for the classic alphabet book "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom," is branching out into songwriting. His first release with his singing partner, David Plummer, was "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Other Coconutty Songs," a cassette that won a Parent's Choice award last year.

The duo has two new tapes out, "Plant a Dream," and "Grandmother's Garden," and they will be performing at a concert tomorrow at John Carroll School in Harford County. There will be two matinees, at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Many of the songs have an environmental or family theme, and Mr. Plummer's clear voice and acoustic guitar make them easy listening for adults as well as kids.

Concert tickets ($4) can be purchased at the door or in advance at Stepping Stones, a bookstore at 24 E. Pennsylvania Ave., Bel Air. Tapes ($11.25 each) are available for purchase at the concert or the store. In addition, Mr. Archambault and Mr. Plummer will appear to sign books and tapes at the store from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday. Mr. Archambault's latest book is "A Beautiful Feast for a Big King Cat."

* Baltimore author/illustrator Susan L. Roth has two new books, "Buddha" and "The Great Ball Game," and she will be autographing all her books and demonstrating her collage illustration from 4:30-6 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Children's Book Store, 737 Deepdene Road in Roland Park.

"The Great Ball Game," written by Joseph Bruchac, is a tale about how lacrosse, an American Indian sport, may have begun. Ms. Roth did much of her research at the Lacrosse Foundation and Hall of Fame on the Johns Hopkins campus.

* "Old Turtle," by Douglas Wood, illustrated in stunning watercolors by Cheng-Khee Chee, is an environmental fable that has developed a cult following. Fans of the book are gathering for the Old Turtle Peace Tour, which is stopping in 50 states over the course of eight months.

On Oct. 23, it comes to the Bel Air United Methodist Church. From 1:30-4 p.m., there will be a slide show of the book with a reading by storyteller Beth Vaughn, as well as presentations by Harford County schools, scout troops and church groups. Readers have been encouraged to write down their "visions for peace," which will be collected along the tour and then taken to the United Nations in February.

On Oct. 24, the tour stops at the Nature Nook in Ellicott City from 2 to 6 p.m. There will be live music and face painting. At both locations, the highlight will be the arrival of a Volkswagen Beetle painted like Old Turtle.

* Stepping Stones bookstore in Bel Air has two other signings coming up. At 1 p.m. on Oct. 22, Laura Joffe Numeroff, author of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," will be signing books. Her latest is "Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers," and there's also a new mini-book and audio cassette release of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," in which Felicia Bond talks about how she illustrated the book.

At 4 p.m. on Oct. 24, Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick will be signing copies of the books in their "I Spy" series, and Ms. Marzollo will autograph her other books, which include "Happy Birthday Martin Luther King," "In 1776" and "In 1492."

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