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Zesty Activity Books for Youngsters

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These new activity books are fun alternatives to electronic screens and the start of more indoor time.

"Super Cute Kawaii Fun Book" by Peggy Brown and Nate Lovett; Adams Media; 128 pages and $13.99.

From "The Everything Girls" series comes this adorable paperback book filled with all things "kawaii," which means "cute" in Japanese. Fuzzy kittens, smiling flowers and adorable berries, with names such as Puffit the Cloud and BeriBeri the strawberry, line the pages. Kids can learn to draw the sweet characters, do puzzles, learn riddles and tell jokes, all the kawaii way. Step-by-step directions and examples help even younger children master the zippy pink, white and black pages.

"Ultimate Body Art Book" by Thaneeya McArdle; Adams Media; 128 pages; $13.99.

We've all seen how popular real tattoos are. Thank goodness there's an safe alternative method so kids can decorate their skin. This easy-to-use book includes more than 50 creative temporary tattoos, plus instructions so young children can make basic patterns and then embellish those. Flowers, starbursts, mandalas, animals, skulls and even henna hand tattoo designs are included.

Another fun girls' activity book from the series is "Ultimate Sleepover Party," by Laura McIntyre, with more than 100 ideas for sleepover games, goodies, makeovers, swag bags, food and so much more.

"Cool Creations in 101 Pieces" by Sean Kenney; Henry Holt/MacMillan; 32 pages; $14.99.

"The Lego Movie" has made Lego building more popular than ever. This easy-to-use guide is presented in nearly all full-color photographs, so kids can see the few steps involved in creating their own "Itty Bitty City," "Citizens of Robotropolis," "Interior Decorating" and more. Author Sean Kenney uses 101 different Lego pieces, which he displays at the very beginning of the book, so kids can make bigger models than they learned how to concoct in his "Cool Creations in 35 Pieces."

Since everybody has random Lego pieces lying around (and since we've all lost the original directions), Kenney's book makes tons of sense.

"What Can You Do With Only One Shoe?" by Simon and Sheryl Shapiro; art by Francis Blake; Annick Press; 32 pages; $9.95.

Subtitled "Reuse, Recycle, Reinvent," this cool poetry paperback highlights the "R" words and shows off witty illustrations and amazing photographs about those creations.

"Re-Tired" goes, "A farmer knew just what to do when his cow was too thirsty to moo. His solution was thrifty — repurposing — nifty! Which saves the environment, too." The accompanying photo shows a cow sipping out of a repurposed big rig tire, with drawings of a silly cow skateboarding, uni-cycling and enjoying other wheels.

Youngsters can certainly try some of the ideas, such as the old shoe nailed to a tree and made into a birdhouse, while others are just too cool: an old cruiser turned into a boy's bed. Besides learning cool poems, Simon and Sheryl Shapiro's book will get kids thinking about inventive ways to reuse almost anything.

"Zoom In! Visual Illusions and Guessing Games" by various authors and artists; Ticktock/Octopus Publishing Group; 48 pages; $9.99.

The perfect affordable hardcover book to take to doctor's appointments and on long car trips, "Zoom In!" gets kids looking at ordinary items in new ways. The glossy, colorful book focuses on regular objects — the head of a felt tip marker, a dandelion, a dog's nose — magnified 100 times. The results are amazing, vivid, awe-inspiring patterns and close-ups that rarely look like the objects at actual scale.

A way to get kids to become more perceptive and appreciative of their surroundings, "Zoom In!" is just plain cool.

To find out more about Lee Littlewood, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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