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

Book Review: Around the world in 50 ways: A Choose-your-own Travel Adventure, by Dan Smith, illustrated by Frances Castle

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_around_the_world_in_50_ways.pngWe made it! And it was SOOO satisfying!

My 7-year-old son and I absolutely loved this book, which combines the fantastic kids travel writing that LP Kids has become known for, with an Amazing Race / pick-a-path format that is a total winner. I got to walk down memory lane and reminisce about my OE, while Dan enjoyed learning about new places, and figure out where he wants to go the most in the world. (Barcelona, apparently – I think it was the football, rather than Gaudi).

We start in London, then we are given three options – train, coach or boat – and land in different parts of the world accordingly. Each set of options is different, and you can choose by length of journey in hours and minutes, type of transport as with the first one or going East or West. Sometimes with a bit of knowledge the adult helping can hazard a guess at where you may end up, but most of the time it’s a complete surprise and all the better for it.

Each city we land in has several text boxes. The first is a brief introduction, and others are either a unique form of transport (one of the themes of the book) or a place you must visit while there. There are frequently short fact-boxes as well, though they could be better defined. It is written as though the boy leading the trip has organised a top-attraction visit of famous attractions, which is friendly and appealing.

As far as the pick-a-path aspect goes, occasionally you will hit a dead end and have to start again, but they aren’t too frequent, and when they happen it is never a ‘terrible death’ – an aspect of the more traditional pick-a-paths that upset my sensitive boy – more of an unfortunate circumstance, like your huskies coming un-hitched in Lapland.

The colours and illustrations are wonderful, but the formatting could occasionally be a bit more defined with lines and boxes. That said, it really doesn’t detract from the riot of colour and fun feel of the book.

As a first introduction to what world travel has to offer, along with a satisfying activity, I’d recommend this one for ages 6+. My son was just right for it, and was very happy to let me practise my tourism agent promotional patois.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

Around the World in 50 Ways
by Dan Smith and Frances Castle
Published by Lonely Planet Kids
ISBN 9781786577559

Book Review: Spot the Lot! by Lonely Planet Kids

Available bookshops nationwide.

cv_spot_the_lot.jpgIf anybody knows how to do a good kids’ travel companion book, it is the writers for Lonely Planet Kids. Spot the Lot is, quite simply, the perfect book to keep your kids entertained, no matter where you are travelling.

Spot the Lot! gives its owner a variety of different places that they may be going on a holiday, or on the way to their holiday. An airport, airplane, ferry, skifield, country town, city…all of these are covered. And while you are at these places, you have to keep an eye out for 12-20 things that can be found at the destinations. These have weighting from 5 points for something like a log in the country, to 50, for a tyre mark on the ground. This makes it competitive if that is how your kid rolls.

My 6-year-old, Dan, was seriously the target age and personality type for this book. I brought it out just before we left for our holiday in July, and we still regularly take it with us on outings. He was disappointed not to go skiing in August, mainly because he didn’t get to see the things on that page! While we were on a seriously scary plane trip over the Cook Strait, on an otherwise “boring” car trip from Punakaiki to Greymouth, even in Greymouth town itself, there was something in this book to keep Dan entertained.

And when there is nothing else around, there is a page of seek-and-finds, with all of the same items we’ve been hunting for in the holiday destinations, hidden amongst a colouring-book page. Even my 4-year-old will pick this up and try and find these; and he’s not an activity book type, so this is high praise indeed.

This is an absolute must-have for any child with a keen interest in the world around them, to take on holiday.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

Spot the Lot!
illustrated by Thomas Tlintham
Published by Lonely Planet Kids
ISBN 978760341022

Review: Pop-Up London, 50 Beaches to Blow Your Mind, and Just Point, from Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet has diversified beyond the traditional travel book in recent years, with phrasebooks, pictorial and gift travel books, destination guides, as well as a whole section of travel entertainment for kids. We look at three of their new releases in this review.

cv_50_beaches50 Beaches to Blow Your Mind is a beach-a-page, pictorial book designed to give as a gift, or to appeal to the traveller who counts their overseas beach excursions and trips as worthy of nostalgia. What this book does well is to show off the wondrous variety of beaches that nature gifts us with in different environments around the world. Wild, windswept, calm, stunning, geographically cool, white sands, black sands and so on. By using classifications, the book is able to add variety to the beaches they profile, showing off different looks and different vibes.

In 50 Beaches to Blow Your Mind, we tour through beaches of Bliss: tropical desert island paradises, Dramatic: wild and unusual, Action: surfing and diving meccas, Discovery: beaches for combing and exploring, Parties: social and nightlife beaches, Encounters: wildlife and conservation hotspots, and Family: calm, safe all-rounders. Coromandel’s Hot Water beach features, along with a few Australian beaches, but it’s hard to believe that only one South American beach makes the list. Many featured are in North America, with a portion of Europe for good measure. Overall, this book is nice eye candy, and could be a fun gift for that person in your life who loves a good beach, but it’s really only a flick through once-add to bookshelf kind of read.

cv_just_pointJust Point is quite a fun and unique idea. It’s a pile of cards pinned together that fans out to reveal a bunch of illustrations to help you describe food and drink, transport, and accommodation. It’s designed to help you out of that awkward situation in a foreign country where you don’t know the language but are desperately trying to communicate that you need the bathroom, want to ask for the bill at the restaurant or need a hairdryer. Simply flick through the cards, find the picture of Pizza Toppings and eagerly point at the little pictures of olives, salami, anchovies and frown meaningfully at the picture of pineapple. You need never fear the foreign language waiter again.

I particularly like the picture on the Restaurant Complaints card – a slow tortoise carrying a tray of food on its back to a table, underneath a ticking clock. AKA Hurry up with my food. I’m not sure entirely how useful this tool is going to be, but I’ll be trying it out overseas in a few weeks; for better or worse.

cv_popup_londonPop-Up London is a colourful pop-up display book from Lonely Planet Kids. The book tours the reader through iconic landmarks in London.

I invited Wellington almost-5-year-old Lily Carlyle to review this book for me, with her mother Kat. Lily loved the pop-up aspect of the book, she thought the bright colours were very pretty and she really liked the map at the back. It was very short though, and without a story, Lily was left twiddling her thumbs after a minute. Improvising, Kat used the book to generate questions about where London was, the fact that a real princess (AKA Duchess Kate) lives there and then spent some 30 mins looking at pictures of princesses on the Net.

Perhaps Lonely Planet should incorporate a story in these pop-up books – a very good idea! Big thanks to Lily for her review.

Reviewed by Amie Lightbourne and Lily Carlyle

50 Beaches to Blow Your Mind (Lonely Planet) 9781760340599
Just Point – A Visual Dictionary for the Discerning Globetrotter (Lonely Planet)
Pop-Up London (Lonely Planet Kids) 9781760343392