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CHILDREN'S BOOKSHELF

A Children's How-To : Read your mom's mind, nauseate your friends

October 09, 1994|KATHLEEN KRULL | Kathleen Krull's most recent book is "Lives of the Writers: Comedies, Tragedies (and What the Neighbors Thought)" (Harcourt Brace)

Fortified by one of the catchiest titles of the year--"How to Read Your Mother's Mind"--James M. Deem takes a sensible but lively approach to this thoroughly juicy topic (Houghton Mifflin, hardcover, $15.95, ages 8 to 12).

With recent articles revealing that some prominent CEO's are known to consult psychics, and with TV psychics pulling in millions of calls a year from the rest of us, it's only natural that kids too would be attracted by the possibilities of ESP. Wouldn't it be pleasant to know what your parents were really thinking, to know why dreams sometimes seem to come true, to recognize the differences between quacks and real examples of clairvoyance? Deem provides myths and misconceptions, facts and scientific reports about how our brains work, intriguing true stories, discussion of careers (like criminology and healing) that make use of ESP, a glossary, an extensive bibliography and even a solicitation of readers' own experiences with telepathy. Witty illustrations by True Kelley contribute to making this a playful approach to high-interest food for thought.

Also of enormous current interest--with courtroom dramas filling the TV screen and legal troubles assailing seemingly everyone--is the law. Surprisingly, there's little on this captivating topic written for kids, and so a welcome new title is "IT'S THE LAW!: A Young Person's Guide to Our Legal System" (Volcano Press, 800 879-9636, paperback, $12.95, ages 10 and up). In lucid prose, author Annette Carrel tackles such complex but useful issues as why we need laws, who makes them and how, what happens when you break a law, what a trial is all about, children's rights and the importance of the United States Constitution. Most pertinent is a chapter on juvenile justice--all about the most common crimes charged against juveniles and how they're treated. A must for civics classes and of interest to just about any kid.

For help in dealing with less earth-shattering but somehow no less serious problems, turn to the newly revised edition of "When You Go to Kindergarten" (Morrow, hardcover, $15.00, ages 4 to 6). Enthusiasm and confidence about going to school "for real" don't always occur naturally. Noted author James Howe (most famous for his Bunnicula books), aided by photos from Betsy Imershein, supplies the ultimate in reassurance for kids contemplating the prospect of kindergarten with mixed emotions, for kids already into their first school year who may be experiencing trauma--and for parents who may be having trouble letting go.

One final recommendation, or rather a "beware": "Almanac of the Gross, Disgusting & Totally Repulsive: A Compendium of Fulsome Facts" by Eric Elfman, illustrations by Ginny Pruitt (Random House, paperback, $4.99, ages 8 to 12). This book is literally so revolting that I couldn't bear to look at it for more than a minute at a time. Kids should adore it.

Remember Ratty, Mole and Toad?

Did you ever wonder what happened to the animals from "The Wind in the Willows"? Did Toad remain a sensible animal? Or what mischief might he be up to next? A sequel to Kenneth Grahame's classic children's story is being published this fall. Write us what you think happens. We'll publish the best of your sequel ideas when we review the book. Stories must be received by Oct. 21. Send to:

"Willows"

Book Review, Los Angeles Times,

Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053

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