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CHILDREN'S BOOKSHELF

CLIMB YOUR FAMILY TREE: A Genealogy Detective's Kit (Hyperion Paperbacks for Children: $12.95) : FAMILY HISTORY (Dorling Kindersley: $15.95) : HOW TO FLY (Nova/Curiosity Kits: $20) : SUPER PAPER FLYERS BOOK & KIT (Sterling: $24.95)

September 29, 1996|MARTIN ZIMMERMAN

A pair of offerings--Climb Your Family Tree: A Genealogy Detective's Kit and Family History--are a nice introduction for youngsters ages 7 and up who are interested in delving into their family history. Better still, each is sufficiently appealing that kids who had never given such an activity a thought will find themselves engrossed in this rewarding effort to record history where it counts--at home.

"Climb Your Family Tree" includes a slim but solid guide (by Anne Depue) for neophyte ancestor hunters, a note-pad that contains two sets of questions for eight relatives. First set: "What are the full names of your parents?" "What is their relationship to me?" and the like. Second set: "What are your favorite childhood memories?" "What was your favorite music when you were a teenager?" and so on, and a "tree" chart-poster to fill in as the detective work progresses. It is a nice first step toward solving the puzzles of the past.

"Family History" covers much of the same ground but throws in a teeny plastic camera to take "picture records of your family," stickers and a memory game matching cards of past and present-day inventions.

"Family History" is more suitable for younger kids (the thin guide, by Chris and Melanie Rice, is more visual than the "Tree" guide); the stickers and game are fun and easy to understand.

One caveat: The kits are guilty of deceptive packaging. Both look much bigger than they are, thanks to their containers, and both claim the box is part of the package, to store newly unearthed family mementos in. At my house, we use shoe boxes.

Your junior detective just might turn up something mind-boggling. You could be a distant relative of Thomas Jefferson . . . or the Marquis de Sade. Hey, it's all in the genes.

*

Another related duo--How to Fly and the Super Paper Flyers Book & Kit--can help children ages 8 and up soar to new heights.

"How to Fly" is a nifty kit that explores all the concepts of flight--from boomerangs to jet propulsion. All sorts of parts are inside--wooden wings, plastic propellers, a feather--that are used either to build actual flying machines or to illustrate concepts of aviation. Kids can build a helicopter, delta kite, biplane, flying wing and parafoil-glider, among other fliers.

The kit includes a fold-out poster, "Milestones in Aviation" a Flight Explorer's Log Book that covers activities and experiments based on the kit components, and a Flight Mileage Card.

The "Super Paper Flyers Book & Kit" delivers less than its impressive looking package tantalizes you with but nevertheless can offer hours of engrossing play for kids who are patient--make that obsessive--and really skilled with scissors.

There are more than 100 planes that can be constructed using the paper, decals, markers, etc., that come with the kit, instructions for which are in the kit's book and driving force, "Super Paper Airplanes" by Norman Schmidt. You can save five bucks by purchasing just the $19.95 book, but since you'll have to spring for the materials anyway, you may as well look like a sport and get the Big Box. This is heavy-duty cutting and pasting: Wings, fuselages, rudders, canopies and on and on all need to be traced, cut and worked on. For serious junior aviators only.

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