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Hand: The best toy is your imagination

Luci Hand

Luci Hand

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Updated: December 11, 2013 6:17AM



Anyone who has watched children play as much as I have over the years knows that it is not “play” as defined by grown-ups.

Kids work at it. Kids build imagination through play and nowhere is that more apparent that “Toys Galore” by Peter Stein, with crazy fun illustrations by Bob Staake.

This has no plot, no theme, and no characters except the outlandish toys we see. Lots of sound words and things to look at and talk about keep interest high.

We end with questions: “What is the best toy ever? The most cool and clever?”

I agree with the winner: the one in “your very own imagination.”

In “My Dream Playground” by Kate M. Becker, we see what one little girl can do with her imagination.

She lives in an apartment building in the city and knows what she would do with the empty lot down the street.

We watch as she draws swings and slides and trampolines. Monkey bars and twisty slides join the plan.

She shows it to her mother who encourages her to keep dreaming. Her siblings join her in drawing more additions, and then there is a man with a clipboard measuring her lot.

Her dream has come true. He and a group of volunteers are doing to turn it into a playground.

She shares her drawings with him and volunteers to help. He makes her his project manager and every day after school she helps him plan the park.

It takes a whole week to make it come true. Based on a true story, we are delighted to see what imagination can do.

“The Goods by McSweeney’s” is a huge book marked “Vol. 1,” and is edited by Mac Barnett and Brian McMullen.

This features dozens of authors and illustrators who have designed puzzles and games and activities for kids to enjoy. This is a great rainy day or vacation book.

Mazes, riddles and even Rasputin paper dolls are found in this treasury of fun. Tear juice? Prehistoric fossils to make? It just keeps going.

There are 44 pages filled with fun and I’m sure you and your kids will enjoy each and every one.

“The Nowhere Box” by Sam Zuppardi combines imagination with sibling troubles.

George has two little brothers bugging him all the time. We follow as George tries his best to hide and get some alone time. It just doesn’t seem to work.

Finally, the huge box from the new washing machine appears to be the answer to his problem. We watch as he works on it, making it into a “space ship” and takes off. He has arrived at Nowhere.

Nowhere was vast and empty but George soon fills it with his imagination.

Meanwhile, back at home, his brothers are searching all over for him.

In Nowhere, he is realizing that there is no one to be “anti,” to be the “other side.” In fact, there was no one at all.

He sets a course for home and we watch as he joins his brothers and tells them he has been “nowhere” and they begin to play together.



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