As we approach the end of summer and the swimming pools begin to close, don’t fret about how to keep the kids entertained. You can have a smashing good time all within the confines of your living room. Here are some recommendations for books, games and DVDs that will stimulate the mind, foster creativity and create a whole lot of fun. Imogen Kandel and Jessica Pan
Where the Wild Things Are (ages 4 to 8)
by Maurice Sendak
Director Spike Jonze (Adaptation) is set to bring this storybook to the big screen this October. Though it won’t be hitting cinemas in China, you shouldn’ miss this magical rumpus. The story follows Max, a naughty boy in a wolf suit who is sent to bed without any supper. As Max sulks in his room, a giant forest suddenly emerges. Not wanting to waste a minute, he sets off into the wilds for an adventure. Within this dark forest Max finds a group of friendly monsters that quickly befriend him and crown him their king. As they roar and stomp and rampage, Max realizes that despite his fondness for his new family, there’s no place like home. First published in 1963, this classic has lost none of its relevance or appeal. The illustrations are bold and textured and do an amazing job of transporting you to another world.
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (ages 4 to 8)
by Mem Fox
A classic Australian children’s writer, Mem Fox is a bedtime reading staple. This charming story recounts the day that Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge helped 96-year-old Miss Nancy get her memory back. Wilfrid lives next door to a retirement home filled with eccentric and wonderful people. Though he likes them all, his favorite is Miss Nancy. With the help of a puppet, an egg and an assortment of knickknacks, Wilfrid sets out to help her recount the most beautiful memories of her past. Never patronizing, this story is a positive example of how people can bridge the generation gap. Illustrated in beautiful watercolor by Julie Vivas, Miss Nancy and Wilfrid’s innocent detective work will make you smile inside and out.
DVD’s (with rating)
Based on Neil Gaiman’s book of the same name, Coraline was transformed into stop-
motion 3-D animation by director Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas). The film’s heroine is a smart, adventurous young girl named Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) who is annoyed with her neglectful parents. One day Coraline stumbles across a hidden door that opens to an eerie blue tunnel. Coraline follows the tunnel to a home and a family remarkably similar to hers, only better! She feasts on yummy food prepared by her doting “Other Mother” (voiced by Teri Hatcher) and listens to her “Other Father” play songs on the piano in her honor. But this “Other” family is not what is seems. With buttons for eyes, and a spooky plan to hatch, the “Other Mother” sets about trapping her in this creepy parallel universe forever. With the help of an annoyingly talkative boy, Wybie, and an eccentric cast of characters, Coraline makes her escape and frees the other children captured by the evil “Other Mother.” Spooky, creepy, sometimes scary, but always sweet, this film is smart enough for both kids and parents to enjoy. It’s dark visual style might be best reserved for those 10-years-old and above.
Twister (ages 4 and up)
This favorite game is always fun for the whole family – rather than sitting around a board, kids get the chance to move around, practice identifying left and right, and learn how to balance. Spin the colorful wheel, which will tell players which hand or foot to put on a red, green, yellow or blue dot, turning the mat into a gymnastic limbo. 2-4 players.Winner: Last one standing.
Scrabble (ages 8 and up)
Work your left brains out with this word game. Each player starts with seven letters and gets the chance to make words on the board – longer words that have rare letters (Q and Z are worth 10 points) earn the highest points. Bonus: Teaches kids new words and how to think strategically. 2-4 players. Winner: Player with the highest score.
Beijing Monopoly (ages 8 and up)
Train your kids to be the next Donald Trump as they try to amass expensive properties and build hotel empires – but instead of buying property in New York, get your hands on a Beijing edition; it’ll be fun to see who can get their hands on the CBD, Sanlitun or Wangfujing. When players land on a free property, they have the option to buy; when players land on another player’s property, they have to pay up. 2-8 players. Winner: Whoever has the most real estate value and money at the end.
All books and DVDs available on Amazon.com. Find the games at in the toy section of the Jenny Lou’s at Pinnacle Plaza or at Kids Plus (also in Pinnacle Plaza).