City Trails: Barcelona – Secrets, Stories and Other Cool Stuff

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_barcelona_city_Trails.jpgGet ready for a walking tour like no other – all from the comfort of your sofa!  Google is a great way to travel virtually around a city but nothing beats local knowledge. This seriously streetwise guide is packed with themed trails, from food and festivals to music, art and sport, that reveal amazing facts and intriguing tales you won’t find on the tourist routes.

In City Trails: Barcelona, join Lonely Planet explorers Marco and Amelia as they hunt for more secrets, stories and surprises in another of the world’s great cities. You’ll discover human pyramids, dancing eggs, a witch school, and lots more!

This a book designed to inspire young intrepid travelers to explore exotic locations – in this case the ancient and modern city of Barcelona. It’s the kind of book you can browse or deep dive. With quirky, fun illustrations, an imaginary narrator takes the reader on a series of trails through the city.

Themed trails include ‘Legends From Long Ago’ (featuring locations of just a few of the city’s many festivals for saints and historic figures), ‘Animal Land’ (the various zoos and museums of the Barcelona); ‘Delicioso!’ (a quick and slightly unsatisfying survey of street food and tapas); ‘Gaudi Town’ (a compulsory introduction of the famous architect’s iconic buildings including La Sagrada Familia); ‘Musical Marvels’ (music festivals) and my favourite ‘Spooky Stuff’ (which includes the Museu de Carrosses Fúnebres – a museum devoted to local funerary customs, featuring a display of ornate horse-drawn hearses and The Alchemist’s House, and the Executioner’s House).

With bright colours and a scrapbook design, there’s plenty to see. Every page is overloaded with visual information and plenty of snappy facts and ‘teaser’ lines to whet the knowledge of appetite kids and adults alike.

Also available in the series are: City Trails – London, Paris, New York City, Rome, Tokyo, Sydney, Washington DC and Singapore.

Reviewed by Tim Gruar

City Trails: Barcelona – Secrets, Stories and Other Cool Stuff
Published by Lonely Planet Kids
ISBN 9781787014848

Book Review: World’s Strangest Predators – Lonely Planet Kids

Available at bookshops nationwide.

cv_worlds_strangest_predators.jpgThis new book by the team at Lonely Planet Kids is a Top 40 of the world’s strangest predators, ranked in order and scored on a scale of strangeness, danger, cunning, and ferocity.

From Arctic foxes to Venus flytraps, this collection includes plants, insects, and larger creatures, all weird and wonderful in their own way. Full colour photographs, fact boxes, a decent glossary, and clear text make this an easy and informative reference book for primary school-aged children. The maps on each page showing the homes of all of these weird and, in some cases, frankly terrifying creatures are a handy inclusion – and a great reassurance that New Zealand is blessedly free of most of these beasts. (There are a couple of critters that you can find in Aotearoa; see if you can spot them.)

This backpack-sized paperback will be a fun boredom buster on any long car trips over the school holidays. But be prepared to have to listen to all sorts of facts that you may not want to know about. I bet you don’t know how long an anaconda can hold its breath underwater for… This is a handy resource for animal-loving readers.

Reviewed by Tiffany Matsis

Lonely Planet Kids: World’s Strangest Predators
Lonely Planet
ISBN 9781787013032

Book Review: Lonely Planet Kids: World’s Strangest Creepy Crawlies

cv_worlds_strangest_creepyCrawliesAvailable in bookshops nationwide.

Most definitely not for squeamish grown-ups, this book will delight bug-obsessed kids with its catalogue of weird and wonderful insects. Have you ever heard of a bird-dung crab spider?

This new book by the clever folk at Lonely Planet is a Top 40 of the world’s strangest species, ranked in order and scored on a scale of creepiness, beauty, fighting ability, and superpowers. It is chock-full of coloured photos, fact boxes, lists, and brightly coloured graphics. The cast includes a full array of bugs from spiders to ants to bees. I confess it was extremely satisfying to see that New Zealand’s own Giant Weta made an appearance. Did you know that a weta’s ears are on its knees?

It is hard to imagine a child who would not be fascinated by this treasure trove of facts and photographs. With quizzes, maps, and a glossary, there is plenty of information in this compact book to keep primary school-aged children captivated. It may be a little basic for older readers but it could provide a good starting point for the curious researcher.

Adults, be prepared to be regaled incessantly with all sorts of weird and revolting statistics. ‘Mum! Mum, did you know…?’ Just be glad you are not a termite queen that produces one egg every three seconds for fifteen years; that’s a lot of babies.

Reviewed by Tiffany Matsis

Lonely Planet Kids: World’s Strangest Creepy Crawlies
by Lonely Planet
Published by Lonely Planet Kids
ISBN 9781787012974

Book Review: Worlds Strangest Ocean Beasts, by Lonely Planet Kids

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_worlds_strangest_ocean_beasts.jpgHave you ever wondered about the bizarre creatures that live in our oceans? From the well known seahorse to the rare goblin shark, World’s Strangest Ocean Beasts shines a light on the unique and unusual biology and behaviours of 40 weird and wonderful creatures from the deep.

Lonely Planet Kids has compiled their own list about the extraordinary creatures who call the ocean their home. But these creatures aren’t just any sea creatures: according to Lonely Planet’s animal experts, these creatures are the 40 strangest creatures that roam the deep sea. Each animal is displayed on its own page boarded by facts about what makes these creatures so weird. A “strangeometer” accompanies each creature that gives a ranking of its appearance, weird abilities, rarity, strangeness and overall strangeometer score.

Saturated with colour the bright photos illuminate the strange and sometimes scary appearances of these creatures of the deep. With so little known about the earth’s vast oceans, this book is a great opportunity for children to explore the multitude and variety of animal species that live below the waves. As an avid watcher of wildlife documentaries some of these facts even surprised me!

Children will enjoy poring over the images and hearing the weird and interesting facts about each creature. A perfect book for any child with a love of animals and an excellent resource for parents and teachers.

Reviewed by Alana Bird

Worlds Strangest Ocean Beasts
by Lonely Planet Kids
ISBN 9781787013018

 

Book Review: Around the World Fashion Sketchbook, by Jenny Grinsted & Eva Byrne

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_around_the_World_fashion_sketchbook.jpgFashion, travel, colouring-in, and design – courtesy of the creative team at Lonely Planet kids. The Fashion Sketchbook is a very fun and educational trip around the world in traditional costumes.

Divided into six geographic regions, the book features twenty-seven countries from Mexico to Ghana to our own New Zealand. It’s always a source of parochial glee to find Aotearoa in a book.  Each country has a double-page spread outlining traditional clothing, patterns, fabrics, and jewellery.

Part fashion fact book, part atlas, part activity book, this A4-sized book has plenty of information and photos but also leaves room to draw in your own designs. You can customise a Herero-style hat from Namibia with your own patterns and colours, or follow the steps to draw your own quadrille dress for a Jamaican dancer. Fun, educational, and creative.

This is a great activity book to keep your design-minded, wannabe young travelers busy over the school holidays. My twelve-year-old has already stolen my review copy.

Review by Tiffany Matsis

Around the World Fashion Sketchbook
by Jenny Grinsted & Eva Byrne
Published by Lonely Planet Kids
ISBN 9781787014442

Book Review: City Mazes – Real Street Map Puzzles to solve from Amsterdam to Vancouver, by Patricia Moffatt

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_city_mazesPuzzle kids of all ages will get into this book.  It’s perfect for anyone who loves to travel – be it in the flesh or only on paper. Although, I have to say, if you own a Sat Nav, it’s pretty accurate. The book is a collection of 30 ‘iconic city’ street maps re-engineered here and there to a create fun, challenging and beautifully illustrated activity book. Puzzle designer Patricia Moffatt, with the help of illustrators company Racket, has taken aerial photos of a number of major cities and redrawn the streets with tiny little embellishments to create her mazes. Sometimes this is a simple line closing a street or in the case of Paris, directing the journey underground through a tunnel or over a bridge.

Whilst puzzlers draw along the with ‘paths’ their pens pass famous sights like the Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building. Added to each page are features of each city, with dialogue to explain and even hyperlinks. Each maze also reveals hidden gems like markets, or unique shops and art galleries, eateries and other tourist spots from those in the know. After all this is a Lonely Planet production, the book producer that once prided itself on giving the inside information for all travellers. The links might be a bit of a clue to that, too.

Given the liberal placement of images of vodka, beer, wine etc, and mentions of bars and restaurants I’m not really sure this is a children’s book. But, on the positive, kids of all ages will appreciate the clean, almost cartoon-like images.

vancouver_imageAre the mazes easy? Well, not for me. I had to backtrack several times. I got a bit distracted by all the text on the sides of the main puzzle, which was interesting. But that didn’t stop me. I got there, probably about 2 hours after my 9-year-old who was intent only on solving each level. She didn’t read the text at all. No matter. Maybe on the second round. There are 30 puzzles to re-solve. (I shouldn’t have fretted, either.  The solutions are in the back.)

This is one of a series of books that run alongside the theme of mazes based on maps and geographic locations. The artwork has a nice muted but classy feel, being printed on good quality heavy paper. According to the inside sleeve, the paper stock is endorsed by Forest Stewardship Council, an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.

The cover has a satisfying three dimensional quality to it. Definitely worth a look as good gift choice for a unique recipient who has everything or nothing like this.

Reviewed by Tim Gruar

City Mazes – Real Street Map Puzzles to solve from Amsterdam to Vancouver
by Patricia Moffatt
Published by Lonely Planet
ISBN 9781787013414

Book Review: Brain Teasers, by Sally Morgan

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_brain_teasers.jpgYou only need to see that familiar Lonely Planet logo to know that, between those paperback covers, adventure awaits.  This time, it’s not a guidebook, but rather a fantastic book of travel-related puzzles and games to keep young travellers occupied on the journey.

On a long car trip or flight, when you’re out of mobile phone coverage or want to give the kids a break from staring at screens, this handy backpack-friendly-sized puzzle book will be a welcome change to playing I Spy and counting yellow cars.  With 145 pages of matching games, mazes, guessing games, and so much more, there is plenty in this book to keep travellers aged 5-10 busy for hours.  Handily all of the answers are at the end of the book in case the adults in your travel group are equally stumped.

The games are travel- and geography-themed, as you would expect from a Lonely Planet publication so it’s bound to prove popular even on a rainy day at home in the school holidays as you imagine you’re off travelling the world instead.

Review by Tiffany Matsis

Brain Teasers
by Sally Morgan
Published by Lonely Planet Kids
ISBN 9781787013148