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Laurie's Picks

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LAURIE'S FAVORITE TOYS:


Orchard
My whole family enjoys playing this beautiful, non-competitive game. We each get a lovely woven basket to fill with brightly painted wooden apples, pears, cherries and plums. There’s no reading or strategy. Luck alone determines whether the players will collect all the fruit before the raven gets it!



Spot it!
Always fun. Sometimes frustrating. Some say addictive. I can quit whenever I want — I just don’t want to! Really, great game for players of all ages. Amazingly, there is one matching object between every two cards in this deck. Spot that object first, call it out and discard before your opponents. No reading, no turns, no strategy. If the same person keeps winning every hand, give them more cards next time…


Quiddler
A cross between Gin Rummy and Scrabble. Readers of all ages compete to spell the most short words or the longest word. This is a light, fun game that involves strategy, spelling and a smattering of math. Quiddler provides an excellent opportunity to showcase your superb vocabulary.

Honey Bee Tree
Like Kerplunk with cute little bees and branches. Pull a branch and the bees fall down, or not. Irresistible.




Magnetic Dolls
The best toy for kids 3-9 for the car or plane. Magnetic dolls and accessories come in a metal tin. Ballerinas, monsters, robots, princesses, fairy tale characters, Victorian dolls, multicultural dolls: something for everyone! I keep two in the car at all times.



Tie Dye Kit
Every summer, my kids and I tie dye everything we can get our hands on: shirts, socks, pillowcases, aprons, bandanas – you name it. This kit comes with everything you need to color it! Brilliant colors in convenient squirt bottles, rubber bands, gloves, fix, detailed instructions and even a DVD to show you exactly what to do to achieve a variety of vibrant results. People really do stop us on the street to ask us where we got our shirts.





LCR
Fun little game in a small plastic tube. Keep it your purse and shorten the wait in the doctor’s office or diner.




LAURIE'S FAVORITE BOOKS:


The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Beautiful, heartbreaking, hopeful, satisfying. Everything you want in a book. I would recommend this book to everyone over 9 (with one caveat: a young girl dies).




Children Make Terrible Pets
Another amazing picture book by Peter Brown, the author of another of my favorite books, The Curious Garden. A delightful story of a bear and her boy.




Lost and Found
Simple illustrations capture the many moods of a penguin and boy who travel across the ocean to find friendship.




Many Moons
I always enjoy a surfeit of raspberry tarts. The princess in this classic James Thurber story does, too. What lengths will the king endure to cure his ailing daughter? What simple wisdom does the child display when finding the solution? You must find out!




Sing a Song of Popcorn
A very special friend gave this book to my son when he was born. I’ve read it a thousand times to all four of my kids, and I still recommend it to everyone who’s looking for a baby gift. The poems are well chosen, the illustrations are various and wonderful. Poetry always makes a great gift, especially for that potentially awkward bridge between picture books and chapter books. Poetry can be simple to read, but adult enough to make you feel accomplished once you’ve read it.



The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
Written by Julie Andrews Edwards – yes, that Julie Andrews! Awesome early/intermediate chapter book. Brave children, imaginary creatures, really good bad guy. Stirs children’s imagination just when they’re beginning to not believe.




Guys Write for Guys Read
Great for reluctant boy readers. This collection of short stories was written for boys by famous male authors. “These short stories are easy to relate to and interesting” says my formerly reluctant boy reader. “Alex Rider and The Chronicles of Prydain are good, too.”




The Westing Game
I can’t tell you what happens in this riveting intermediate chapter book. You’ll have to read it to find out. It was required in our 5th grade Lanquage Arts class. A perfect first mystery.