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CHILDREN'S BOOKSHELF

ASTROLOGY AND PREDICTIONS. By Jon Tremaine (Price Stern Sloan: $21.95) : NATURE CRAFTS FOR KIDS. By Gwen Diehn and Terry Krautwurst (Sterling Publishing: $40) : THE READER'S DIGEST CHILDREN'S WORLD ATLAS. By Malcolm Day, Philip Steele and Kate Woodward (Reader's Digest: $20)

August 25, 1996|MARTIN ZIMMERMAN

Whether or not to recommend Astrology and Predictions puts me in a quandary. I'm not a fan of the "mystic arts," the book's subject matter, and am hesitant to tout this sort of stuff to parents and kids. On the other hand, this offering is fun and intriguing, a pleasant way to while away an afternoon.

Jon Tremaine's text provides a solid introduction to astrology, numerology, runes, palm reading and the like; the graphics and artwork are a nice complement. There are 16 pages of interpretations for more than 20 fortune-telling variations at the end of the 48-page book, as well as a breakdown for the signs in the zodiac. Each kit comes with a deck of fortune-telling cards, a Mystic Seven spinner and a set of rune stones.

Will it lead your child down the path of "rune-ation"? Hey, what do I know? Do I look like some kind of fortuneteller?

*

Nature Crafts for Kids is a sure finalist in the competition for heftiest book/activity kit package. Weighing in at 4 1/2 pounds, the box is impressive and, at its equally hefty price, clearly intended as a Big Gift. Is it worth the price and potential hernia? Well, yes and no.

Yes, because the kit is self-contained with materials sure to catch the eye of its intended audience, age 8 and older. No, because the materials would cost only a few dollars to buy--and you might already have some of them: wooden craft sticks (a.k.a. wood scraps); fine white sand; a pre-cut, pre-drilled bug box with screen, tacks and screws; tempera paint; "specially formulated worm medium" (fancy dirt); and a blank 28-piece jigsaw puzzle.

Yes, because the projects are fun: Making the bug box or the nature puzzle and creating a sand painting are engrossing activities, and the nicely done 144-page all-color book by Gwen Diehn and Terry Krautwurst (same title as the kit) includes other nature craft activities ranging from making fish kites and herb dolls to bark rubbing and twig weaving.

Is it worth the $40 for the convenience? It's your call.

*

Weighing in quite a bit lower on the bathroom scale but nevertheless packed full of child-friendly information and wonderful graphics is The Reader's Digest Children's World Atlas. This 128-page reference work by Malcolm Day, Philip Steele and Kate Woodward is a nice treat for the armchair traveler that also serves as a solid guide for school homework.

After a series of special sections covering language, religion, land use and other topics, travelers begin in North America, head south through South America, northeast to Europe and on to Africa, Asia and on and on. The text is not patronizing; for example, the description of Southeast Europe, includes "In the early 1990s, inter-ethnic tensions result in civil war among the populations of the former Yugoslavia, and United Nations troops were called in to try to restore peace." All in all, a nice addition to the reference desk.

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