Further Shopping Adventures: Trick of the Eye, Pattern Magic and Building a 4-Cylinder Engine
It may be getting late for those packages sent from the Exploratorium in San Francisco, but most of these new finds should be found in your local and online stores:
For Bird Watching enthusiasts, consider a marvelous 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle from Galison entitled Avian Friends with illustrations by Geninne Zlatkis. It's apparently very popular (we got the last puzzle at the Exploratorium) but consider Valentine's Day, perhaps? Or, just wait for restocking and send an IOU.
The ECOlogical Calendar for 2013; A New Way to Experience Time: A Chris Hardman calendar (from Pomegranate) tracks the year's natural cycles. It presents information on seasonally visible stars, the phases of the Moon and tides, the ratios of darness and light, the seasonal behavior of Earth's creatures and a host of other details about the natural world.
Whether a child or adult, we've always been captivated by illusion. Trick Of The Eye; Art and Illusion (Prestel) is a book that imaginatively presents examples of 'Real or painted'. In one example, two Greek painters, Zeuxis and Parrhasius argued about which of them was the greatest artist and which could paint nature more accurately. With the tale is the illustration of Adriaen van der Spelt and Frans von Mieris, Trompe-l'Oeil with Garland of Flowers and a Curtain, 1658. The Art Institute, Chicago. Buy the book for yourself.
And while you're at it, especially for the experienced sewers among our audience, Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi isnow in English and available (Laurence King) at booksellers. It includes step-by-step instructions for making sculptural clothing.
For an older audience, we selected Building Bots; Designing and Building Warrior Robots, which may appeal to the more sophisticated robot builder with a background in associated learning and an interest in the sport.
Our resident male approved of the Smithsonian Motor-Works Model of a 4-cylinder engine you can build yourself (ages 8+) and, frankly, any woman who wants to understand what's under the hood as well as future drivers in your family. And for a stocking stuffer consider the 50 year calendar paperweight for someone's desk, who can use a perpetual present. It's carried by Kikkerland.
Forbidden Island, for ages 10 and up, has been around for a couple of years but is well-reviewed, nominated for and the winner of game awards, especially for families: "Join a team of fearless adventurers on a mission to capture four sacred treasures from the ruins of a perilous paradise." Perfect for game night.