FOR KIDS OF ALL AGES Some reference books are written especially for young readers. But don't be surprised if adults helping out with the homework don't find themselves irresistibly thumbing through
"The World Almanac for Kids 2007" (World Almanac Books, $12.99)
The standard version of "The World Almanac and Book of Facts" is a thick book with no-nonsense blocks of text and columns of stats. The children's version is quite the opposite -- vivid, heavily illustrated, with snippets and chunks of information, lists, and attention-grabbing graphics.
The contents page serves as a guide to general topics, from animals to world history, with sections including books and buildings, holidays and homework help. An index helps fine-tune the research. And if all those facts start to overwhelm, breaks are offered in pages of jokes, riddles, quizzes and word-connect, word-search and sudoku puzzles.
"Time for Kids: Almanac 2007" edited by Curtis Slepian (Time for Kids Magazine/Time, Inc., $12.99)
This one also offers plenty of fun stuff, but quizzes and puzzles can be educational, too. For the fact-seeker, there are chapters on topiccs including newsmakers, buildings, geography, health, science, the United States and the world, along with an index. Information includes a comparison of the planets, thumbnail sketches of U.S. presidents, the alphabet in American Sign Language, and tips for taking tests (none of which includes writing answers on your palms).
A guide to using the Internet tells kids how to conduct research on the Web and how to use the Internet safely.
"The Perfect Pop-Up Punctuation Book" by Kate Petty and Jannie Maizels (Dutton Children's Books, $14.99)
This clever book entertains youngsters with its playful pop-ups while it gives lessons in basic English punctuation.
By lifting flaps and pulling tabs, kids learn how to start and end a sentence, how to use quotation marks and exclamation points, and what the difference is between a colon and a semicolon.
"Comma jokes" give examples of how a misplaced or omitted comma can change the meaning of a sentence, sometimes with amusing results. And there's a test on apostrophe usage with answers and explanations hidden under flaps.
The book is designed for ages 7 and older, but it can also serve as a refresher course for adults who become "comma-tose" when they try to remember their grammar-school grammar.
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