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The Atlas Obscura explorer's guide for the world's most adventurous kid
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  New York Times Review

A kid-friendly guide to great art, an illustrated update of 'The Jungle Book,' a travel book for fearless young explorers and more. ONE OF THE more rewarding parts of parenting has to be watching your kids take to something with the kind of ferocity you might've forgotten was possible - whether it's playing center midfield or mastering a sonata, or obsessing over every last variety of shark species. The most obvious step to igniting or sustaining that passion is, obviously, handing them a book - preferably a large, lovely, immersive book to get lost in over long vacation days. YOU KNOW THE KID who can conjure an entire imaginary world by animating, say, the sugar packets she finds at the restaurant table? That one will thank you when you put any volume of MY BIG WIMMELBOOK (The Experiment, 16 pp. each, $12.95; ages 2 to 5), written and illustrated by Stefan Lohr and Max Walth, in front of her. Picture Richard Scarryesque, diorama-like spreads with a hint of "Where's Waldo" junior detective. The combination should encourage long contemplative sit-downs that will make any parent's heart sing. Similar to Scarry's famous village-wide cross-sections, Wimmelbook scenes are teeming with subscenes and silly minutiae. A beach-andocean spread in "Animals Around the World," which presumably takes place near Australia, shows crabs scurrying up the sand, cartoonish whales and squid swimming through the bottom of the page, airplanes and blimps flying among sea gulls and messenger birds (holding envelopes in their beaks), and a few hapless characters we meet at the beginning with instructions to find them on every page. (Oh no! Poor Stuart getting bitten by a crab!) Originally published in Germany - where Wimmelbooks are a standard part of young childhood - the four large-format board-book volumes that hit the States this year are "Cars and Things That Go," "On the Farm," "At the Construction Site" and "Animals Around the World." LIKE ALL THE BEST children's books, A HISTORY OF PICTURES FOR CHILDREN (Abrams, 128 pp., $24.99; ages 10 to 14), written by the artist David Hockney and the critic Martin Gayford, with illustrations by Rose Blake, is as interesting for adults as it is for their charges. It turns out that in addition to painting California pools, Hockney has a giftfor communicating his kidlike enthusiasm for works of art that many of us have seen so many times we don't really see them anymore. "I have no idea how he did it!" he writes about the deep shadows on the Mona Lisa as part of a larger discussion on light. Or of his own work: "Painting water is a great challenge - but it's a nice problem!" Or, when describing his experience watching Disney's "Pinocchio" frame by frame: "When I noticed how it was done, I was astonished. There are passages that look like Chinese art and Japanese prints, with white sea foam and swirling waves. . . . It's fantastic." Indeed, one of the more fun parts about this book is Hockney and Gayford's ability to integrate so many facets of pop culture into the discussion; just try to read about that "Pinocchio" scene without rushing to YouTube to see what he's talking about. Geared toward tweens and early teens, the book jampacks information on every spread, but everything is broken down into digestible chunks. It's the kind of book you want lying around in the TV room, welcoming kids to dip in and out or just flip through and familiarize themselves with some of the most famous works of art in history. IT'S NO SECRET that the fastest way to a kid's heart is with the words "Let me tell you a story." Add a layer of unexpectedness to that promise, and you've got the winning formula for Atlas Obscura, the online magazine dedicated to uncovering the most wondrous places on earth. THE ATLAS OBSCURA EXPLORER'S GUIDE FOR THE WORLD'S MOST ADVENTUROUS KID (Workman, 110 pp., $19.95; ages 9 to 12), written by Dylan Thuras and Rosemary Mosco and illustrated by Joy Ang, offers brief, kid-friendly true tales about some of the more fascinating man-made and natural spectacles across the world. Kids can read about 100 off-the-map places to visit, including the Russian town of Oymyakon, the coldest inhabited place on earth, where schools don't close unless the temperature drops to 62 below zero. Or the German amusement park built in an abandoned nuclear power plant. Or the underwater ruins of an Egyptian coastal town that disappeared 2,300 years ago, and which archaeologists are digging up temple by temple, treasure by treasure. This one is perfect for vacations and long road trips. YEAH, WE KNOW, there's an app for that - many in fact - but if the point is to curb the screen time, Sara Gillingham's SEEING STARS: A Complete Guide to the 88 Constellations (Phaidon, 213 pp., $24.95; ages 7 to 10) has as good a shot as anything for teaching your kid how much there is to see if you just look up. Quite literally. The book organizes the 88 official constellations into two sections: "ancient" (constellations first recorded thousands of years ago) and "modern" (those identified during the age of exploration, 1500-1700). Every spread is dedicated to one constellation and includes how-to-find information (assuming you live in the right hemisphere, which it tells you too); a full-page image of its connectthe- dot shape rendered in a celestially inspired teal-navy-gold palette; and the stories (mythological or historical) behind those shapes and clusters. "Stars are not only beautiful to look at," Gillingham reminds us. They once helped farmers figure out planting seasons, guided explorers and travelers, and, most crucially for our purposes today, offered inspiration to retell stories and legends and make sense of a mysterious otherworld. "The stories can still develop and change, as they have over thousands of years," she writes. "You, too, can be a part of those stories." HERE'S ONE FOR the kid most likely to show up at the next March for Science (or for the kid you wish would join you there): Charles Darwin's ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES: Young Reader's Edition (Atheneum, 176 pp., $25.99; ages 10 and up), adapted by Rebecca Stefoff, with illustrations by Teagan White. Darwin's manifesto, first published in 1859, laid out his theory of natural selection, the idea that species changed over time to adapt to their surroundings, as opposed to being divinely created in present form. Because this theory was so world-rocking - to the scientific community and beyond - the original edition includes mountains of dense evidence. Stefoff's edition doesn't have to work so hard, and the result is a streamlined, simplified version, helped along by an introduction covering biographical information on Darwin - kids might be interested to know he was not a standout student). There are also boxes like "The Making of the Modern Dog," explaining how two radically different breeds within the same species, chihuahuas and Great Danes, came to be. MOST CHILDREN (and most parents) are more likely to have seen the Disney versions of "The Jungle Book" than to have read Rudyard Kipling's 19th-century story collection about Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves. But you don't have to be wellversed in either to enjoy INTO THE JUNGLE: Stories for Mowgli (Walker Books, 234 pp., $24.99; ages 8 to 11), written by Katherine Rundell and illustrated by Kristjana S. Williams, an oversize, richly illustrated, heirloom-quality book of origin stories for the characters who populated Mowgli's jungle world. Here is the lame ferocious tiger Shere Khan, whose anger, we learn, can be traced back to his abusive father; Baloo the bear, who became a champion for the smaller, lesser species by learning to speak their languages; Mowgli's wolf mother, Raksha, who saved her baby brother using the one-two punch of agility and words. Rundell has geared the book toward readers ages 8 to 11, but her lyrical words feel as though they were written to be read aloud in front of a fire in a slow, craggly voice: "A tiger has a very specific smell to a wolf. It smells of metal and heat and spit. It smells of take-care and stayaway." It's impossible not to imagine a room full of younger kids transfixed by the hypnotic action. If Rundell's storytelling doesn't do it for them, the illustrations surely will. Williams's richly drawn jungle scapes are equal parts gorgeous and haunting, an irresistible combination. JENNY ROSENSTRACH writes about books and food on her blog, Dinner: A Love Story. She is the author of three books, including, most recently, "How to Celebrate Everything."

  Publishers Weekly Review

This guide to world wonders offers a tour of 100 curious and awe-inspiring destinations within 47 countries and three states in the U.S. Among the natural attractions highlighted are giant crystal formations in the caves of Naica, Mexico; a river in Colombia that turns the colors of the rainbow; and blue whales migrating in the waters off the coast of Iceland. Human-made works of architecture and technology include "Towering Tree Houses" built by minister Horace Burgess in the woods of Tennessee and the stone temples of Mnajdra, Malta. Among the more quirky curiosities is the Coromoto Ice Cream Shop in Venezuela, which scoops a record number of flavors, including spaghetti and sardine. For each locale, the authors include an obscure fact: "In Cambodia, the human head is considered sacred-never pat somebody on the head!" Whether readers are able to visit any of the featured locations, Thuras (a cofounder of Atlas Obscura) and Mosco advocate for exploring the here and now: "You are already somewhere amazing." Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Calling all curious kids! It's time to pack your bags and embark on the journey of a lifetime. Created by the same team behind Atlas Obscura , the #1 New York Times bestseller that has over 600,000 copies in print in its first year, The Atlas Obscura Explorer's Guide for the World's Most Adventurous Kid is a thrillingly imaginative expedition to 100 of the world's most mysterious and mesmerising places.<br> <br> The hottest place on earth, and the coldest. Lava lakes and the otherworldly Blood Falls of Antarctica. An underwater spaceship graveyard and a museum of dancing mummies. As compelling as the destinations is the way the book unfolds. Imagine the world's most ingenious tour guide working with an unlimited budget, and this is the journey you'd take: hopscotching from country to country in a daisy chain of connecting attractions. For example, visit the site of a mysterious meteor crash in Siberia, then turn the page and learn about one in the Yucatán. While in Mexico, visit the fantastical crystal caves, and then turn the page to find yourself in another massive cave, this time in Vietnam.<br> <br> Illustrated in gorgeous and appropriately evocative full-spread watercolours, this book is a passport to a world of hidden possibilities.
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