365 Days of Nature and Discovery: Things to Do and Learn for the Whole Family. This 384-page book, written by Phil Gates and Gaden Robinson, provides tidbits of information about a wide range of creatures and describes nature projects that children and teens can do in the classroom, at home, or outdoors. The 365 entries--one for each day of the year--have illustrative descriptions that answer such questions as why some animals have long necks or why frogs have eyes on top of their heads. The book also has sections on safety and scientific classifications. Cost: $18.95. Contact: Abrams Inc., Sales Department, 100 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011; (212) 206-7715.
Kister's Best Encyclopedias: A Comparative Guide to General and Specialized Encyclopedias. This "encyclopedia of encyclopedias,'' compiled by Kenneth Kister, lists general and specialized encyclopedias. The 506-page guide gives a brief description of each encyclopedia and includes various critiques from reviewers; it also provides a chart at the end of each review that judges the encyclopedias on topics, coverage, accuracy, recency, and clarity. Cost: $42.50, plus 10 percent for shipping and handling. Contact: The Oryx Press, 4041 N. Central at Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ 85012-3397; (800) 279-6799.
How the Body Works: 100 Ways Parents and Kids Can Share the Miracle
of the Human Body. Have you ever wondered why you can see your breath
on a cold day? This 192-page book answers that and many other questions
related to the functions of the body. Author Steve Parker, who has
written more than 80 science books, discusses major body systems
and includes color pictures of fun and simple experiments for children ages 10 and older. Cost: $25. Contact: Reader's Digest Association Inc., Reader's Digest Road, Pleasantville, NY 10570-7000; (800) 846-2100.
Oxford's First Ancient History. This 320-page book is for middle school children who've developed an interest in the Stone Age, the Roman Empire, ancient Egypt, or other early civilizations. Historian/author Roy Burrell colorfully describes what markets were like, what the pyramids contained, and why various nations fought each other. Vibrant drawings by illustrator Peter Connolly accompany the text. Cost: $35. Contact: Oxford University Press, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016; (800) 451-7556.
The United States.
Young People's Encyclopedia of the United States. Children ages 8-14 can find out all they need to know about the United States in this hefty 800-page volume. Published by Kingfisher, this book has 1,200 alphabetized entries, 2,000 color photographs and illustrations, a straightforward text, and a 4,000-entry index. Cost: $39.95. Contact: Chambers Kingfisher Graham, 95 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016; (800) 497-1657.
The Young Reader's Companion to American History. This 964-page reference book is designed to encourage adolescents to read about American history. With the help of more than 150 historians and children's book writers, editor John Garraty has put together articles about America's social and cultural history. The alphabetized topics include racism, gun control, technology, ethnic groups in American culture, and much more. Also included are charts about the states and copies of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Cost: $39.95. Contact: Houghton Mifflin Co., 222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116; (800) 225-3362.
Visual Encyclopedia of Science. Designed for children ages 9 and older, this 320-page encyclopedia answers questions youngsters have about the earth, the stars and planets, and technology. The book explains how sound travels, describes life in space, and answers many other science-oriented questions. It includes descriptive drawings, charts, and photographs. Cost: $22.95. Contact: Chambers Kingfisher Graham, 95 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016; (800) 497-1657.
My Big Dictionary. This 40-page dictionary is designed to give
children ages 2-5 a head start on learning the alphabet. Colorful
scenes, illustrated by Pamela Cote, depict readily identifiable
characters that help children link meaning to words. For example: "A
pink pig in purple, patched, polka-dot pajamas pulling a prickly
porcupine perched on a pumpkin.'' Cost: $18.95. Contact: Houghton
Mifflin Co., 222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116; (800)