Thankfully, LTD has really gotten into playing board games, however the challenge is that BB also wants to play but their age difference makes this problematic (and sometimes destructive). This is a long way of saying that any game that is easy to place and easy to destroy is a welcome addition to our fun supply. Kaboom is a fast paced building game involving wooden blocks and shapes versus catapults. LTD likes that when it is your turn you get to be called Master Builder. BB likes to smash stuff. You have to build a tower as quickly as possible from the designs on the game board at the same time your opponent acts as saboteur firing a small catapult from a foot away. A word of caution as if you don’t keep a tight lid on things feels can get hurt as well as my body parts. Luckily, game play is quick enough that my boys thirst for revenge is easily granted. And if you play on the kitchen table the pieces will clatter to the ground so my suggestion would be the coffee table.
LTD goes back and forth from wanting to learn how to tell time and then forgetting about it. He occasionally will ask for a watch but again does’t press the issue. However, we felt it was time (no pun intended) to properly learn how to read a clock. Watchitude’s Slap Watch was the simplest solution. He can put it on himself as there is no little metal thing to feed through a hole. There are literally hundreds of designs to choose from but he has been digging the planets. The numbers are big and easy to read so he has slowly been learning to read a watch face. I was never the best at telling time and so The Mommy is mostly helping him while deal with BB wanting one but they don’t fit his wrist yet. Another cool feature is that you can submit any design you want, name it and people can vote on their favorite. The winners go into production. I felt old when I looked for directions on how to set the time and of course they directed me to their youtube video. Speaking of time, LTD has spent a lot of it voting for different watches.
We are slowly trying to help BB learn to read. He goes back and forth between saying he would like to read and not caring. Topsy Turvy: Animals by Wes Magee with art by Tracey Tucker is providing BB with a fun first assignment. The book features rhymes that are silly and fun. The pack pictures are bright, busy and fit the text perfectly. Each page depicts a specific animal adventures. BB has been digging this gem: “A family of lions have baked beans for lunch. Hugh hippos and rhinos play soccer. Crash! Crunch!” I occasionally like books with out a traditional narrative or story so that I can skip pages or use the we will read the rest tomorrow night. It is especially nice as some of the rhymes become tongue twisty after a while. Hopefully, the book will encourage him to read but not encourage him to only speak in rhyme.
Since the boys don’t really go camping or lets face it, go outside all that much I think it is important for them to learn about things like compasses and other life skills. Author Paul Boston’s new series, Find Your Way includes titles like Under the Sea, In the Jungle and Underground. The books teach young readers about navigation with a goal toward improving math and map skills. The books feature coordinates (and an explanation of what coordinates are) and different objects to find. One cool feature is the selection of mood of transportation with BB picking Sea Turtle (even though he is punching a little above his weight and gets lost frequently) and LTD always picks the Submarine. After completing each mission the reader gains entrance into the castle. Now that the boys are budding cartographers we are ready to explore the ocean if anyone ever provides us with the ability to breathe underwater.
LTD is big into science and BB is big into destroying things which kind of fits into the how stuff works category. Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Crafts to Modern Technology, edited by Tom Jackson is a new book that satisfies both boys interests. Part of Shelter Harbor Press’ Ponderables series Engineering focuses on 100 cool inventions and concepts from the ancient world up to now. You have your greatest hits like TV, the Light Bulb and automobile but you also find the Great Wall of China and Bagger 288 (look it up). LTD has been digging the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building (this is also helpful since his book of records is really old). BB gravitates to all things with engines. The book comes with a fold out milestones timeline poster. Each item or concept basically gets a page and is written in a way that allows the casual reader to get the gist but also has more details for the truly curious. For me, the fun comes in showing the boys inventions like the telephone which they have been slowly understanding the importance of long distance. Who knows what inspiration they will draw from the book but I get %10 of the patent.
Where LTD goes BB follows and they are both always up for a good adventure. Author and artist Trevor Lai’s new book, Tomo Explores the World is set on a small island that is basically one big fishing village. The titular focus of the tale, Tomo has no great desire to follow the path set by everyone on the island and become a fisherman. After he finds his great-grandfather’s Adventure Journal fate chooses another path for him and his canine companion Captain. His friend Maya joins them as they explore the sea. The art is big and colorful but what I really like which sounds a little sterile is the typeface. The words are in white or black depending on the background and very easy to read. Why should that matter, you ask? Because at bedtime it is pretty dark in their room and I often can’t see the words in many a book (no I don’t need reading glasses). As usual, I won’t spoil the ending but I will say that BB has been digging the baby whale.
We don’t travel as much as we would like and we certainly don’t travel internationally. We frequently field questions about other countries even if the kids keep using state, country and continent interchangeably. In that regard we have been reading, The Barefoot Book of Children by Tessa Strickland and Kate DePalma with art by David Dean. The book focuses on how children around the world live and explores different cultures. In simple easy to understand language (without being patronizing) the book shows the differences in how people look, live and the make up of their families. The hand painted pictures are incredibly colorful and the splash pages really pop. LTD has been locked on the pages about how people communicate by learning the phrase, “Excuse me, do you know where the taxis are? In Grand Central Station. BB is fixated on how kids take baths around the globe. I guess a lot of kids take showers in New Zealand. The book does a nice job of showing the differences but instead of list form the authors have tied things together and show how we are all interconnected.
Occasionally, The Mommy will notice that she lives with three boys. And when you combine that fact with LTD overhearing some nonsense at school about the 2016 election it was time to balance the scales. Jennifer Fosberry’s new book features her star in another adventure, Isabella: Girl in Charge. The tale with art by Mike Litwin centers on main character Isabella waking excited to attend a big event (no spoilers but it has to do with Washington,DC). As her parents explain each time she brings it up, the event hasn’t started yet. The twist is that every time her parents speak to her she is no longer Isabella but a different female advocate or politician including Sandra Day O’Connor and Susanna Salter, the first woman mayor in America. The excitement builds throughout the story until she finally nears the Capital. The end of the book features a timeline of women in politics presented in an easy to digest format. The added benefit for me is that The Mommy has no excuse when the boys ask for a bedtime story and I can go downstairs to chill.
LTD has an amazing memory and the jury is still out on BB, but he is getting better. In that regard, Gigamons is keeping the boys on their toes. The game is memory with a twist. The cards feature Elemons and when you turn them over and find a pair they reveal their special power. The power boost you as the game continues. Not to get to technical but after you find three Elemons leads to a Gigamon and when you get three Gigamons you have won. Don’t let the levels fool you the games are fast especially when BB walks away with the Gigamons. LTD is obsessed with the special powers announcing his favorite as Pyromons where you get remove another player’s Elemon. I will admit I have been slowing down my natural abilities when playing with the boys as I do not always want to win, but usually spend the game trying to get BB to bring the pieces back.
Click here for the New York Times article by Maia Szalavitz.