Showing posts with label games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label games. Show all posts

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ahoy - gifts for kids who love pirates and adventure! (ages 8 - 12)

Non-stop action, fearsome pirates and a cursed skull – it’s a perfect recipe. Add into this exciting story exciting artwork that pulls readers right in, and you have an instant hit. I'd highly recommend The Unsinkable Walker Bean, a eye-catching graphic novel, and a strategy game like Carcassone or The Settlers of Catan, for children and families that like complex, exciting fantasy stories and fun board games.
The Unsinkable Walker BeanThe Unsinkable Walker Bean
by Aaron Reiner
NY: First Second, 2010
ages 8 - 12
available on Amazon and at your local library
Young Walker Bean adores his grandfather, listening to his stories of adventure and working together to create new inventions. But now his grandfather is on his death bed, and he has a special request for Walker: to return a cursed skull to the depths of the ocean floor. Unbeknownst to Walker, the skull was stolen from a pair of wicked lobster mer-witches who will stop at nothing to get the skull back.
Walker takes the skull from his grandfather and is immediately chased by a mysterious “doctor”. Along with a few new friends, Walker keeps dodging the forces that are out to get the skull for themselves.

Aaron Reiner has combined a story with adventure, mystery and inventions with cartoon illustrations that draw kids right to it. Here is the first page - if you'd like to see more, head over to First Second's website where they have a great preview. I also loved seeing some of the early sketches on the great blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

I particularly loved Walker’s inventions, such as using an enormous black canvas to recreate the night sky to fool his captors and subvert the navigation of the ship. This is a perfect graphic novel for kids who love mythology and fantasy, swashbuckling adventure, cliff-hangers and complex, inventive stories.

CarcassonneThe perfect gift to combine this with is a strategy game. Our family has loved two strategy games: Carcassone for younger kids (ages 5 - 10) and The Settlers of Catan for older kids (ages 8 to adult). Both involve building roads and claiming territories, but they also involve strategy, cooperation and competition. We have played Carcassone with our 1st grader, with an adult's help. And we have played The Settlers of Catan with 4th graders with an adult's help.

The Settlers of CatanI first read about The Settlers of Catan in Wired Magazine, in an article called "Monopoly Killer: Perfect German Board Game Redefines the Genre". We really had fun as a family playing this game, trading resources and figuring out ways to cooperate or compete with each other to build the most villages. Andrew Curry wrote in Wired, "Through the complex, artful dance of algorithms and probabilities lurking at its core, Settlers manages to be effortlessly fun, intuitively enjoyable, and still intellectually rewarding, a potent combination that's changing the American idea of what a board game can be."

If you have kids who enjoy complex fantasies and love the current trend for graphic novels, The Unsinkable Walker Bean and a strategy game like Carcassone or The Settlers of Catan are a great gift idea.

The review copy of The Unsinkable Walker Bean was kindly sent by the publishers. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Great games to play

We love playing games on vacation. This past vacation we discovered two new great games, one for older kids (age 8 and up) and one for new readers (age 4 & 5).
Rhyming War (Now I'm Reading!)
by Nora Gaydos
Innovative Kids, 2008
ages 4 - 6
My 5 year old is just learning to read, and she LOVES Rhyming War. It is published by Innovative Kids, the same publishers who publish the series Now I'm Reading! They combine a solid understanding of how kids read and great graphics that make kids laugh. Rhyming War is a card game that can either be played like the classic War or like a matching game. It reinforces both number counting and reading. Each card has is part of a rhyming set that reinforces early readers developing a sense of phonics. The story was a little weak, but the game had my daughter hooked. I love how we can play a few rounds of this right before bed - having fun together and adding giving her a great boost of confidence in reading.
by Bananagrams LLC
ages 7 and up
I loved playing Scrabble when I was a kid, but it just didn't click with my kids (they're 8 & 10). We just bought Bananagrams before this last vacation and they LOVED it. It works like Scrabble, in that you build connecting crosswords from a pile of letters. But it's all about creatively building words, rather than competing for points. Each person creates their own individual crossword, and you can rearrange the words as you get other letters in your pile. My 10 year old started seeing how many 10 letter words she could put into her puzzle. It was great fun. The "winner" is simply the person who uses up all the tiles - you don't keep individual scores, so it's much less competitive. You also go at your own pace, which worked well with two different aged kids. Bananagrams received several awards when it first came out, and they're well deserved. It really is worth getting!

We received Rhyming War as a review copy from the publishers, and bought Bananagrams at our local game store, Games of Berkeley. Both are available on Amazon and at local stores.