1. BOOK PETER PAN AND WENDY BY J.M. BARRIE ($17.95)
Like its hero, it’s a story that never gets old. Beautiful illustrations make this 100th-anniversary edition (out in time for Neverland fans to discover) a real standout. (Ages 10 and up)
2. BOOK THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON BY STEPHEN KING ($24.95)
This ingenious pop-up version of King’s novel is astonishingly intricate, but for brave kids only—scary pictures literally leap off the page. (Ages 10 and up)
3. CD DORA THE EXPLORER ($11.98)
The Nickelodeon crowd will enjoy bopping to these 44 songs from the bilingual animated adventure show, many en Espanol. Highlights include “Do the Robot Walk” and “I’m the Grumpy Troll.”
4.DVD SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Around $40)
A Sponge-fan’s dream: This set includes 39 bizarro episodes and one pass to the new feature film. (What, no free Krabby Patties?) (All ages)
5. ALPHABET FLASH CARDS BY BETH NELSON ($14.95)
Inspired by a vintage dictionary for children, Nelson created these colorful, retro, oversize cards, which are charming enough to hang in any abecedarian’s boudoir. (Ages 2 to 6)
6. NINTENDO DS (NINTENDO, $149.99)
The DS has two screens so that in, say, Madden NFL 2005 you can map a play in the bottom window and see it unfold on top. Compatible with all Game Boy Advance games.
BOOK EGYPTOLOGY ($19.99)
This eye-catching travel journal kept by fictional 1920s Egyptologist Emily Sands is a clever lesson in the ancient culture that built the pyramids. Third-to sixth-graders will treasure the authentic-looking “keepsakes” including a yellowing letter and a shred of mummy cloth.
BOOK LUCY ROSE: HERE’S THE THING ABOUT ME BY KATY KELLY ($12.95)
Girls ready to graduate from Barbara Park’s best-selling Junie B. Jones series—Junie B. Jones Is a Beauty Shop Guy, et al—will welcome frank, funny Lucy Rose. Lucy’s concerns are more mature than Junie’s—her Mom and Dad have split—but Kelly gives her a similarly cheeky perspective. (Ages 8-12)
DVD HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKA-BAN ($29.95)
The third and best of the films about the ever-popular young wizard features Harry doing battle with a mysterious figure who may have a dark connection to his past. Extras include an interview with author J.K. Rowling and a singalong with the Hogwarts choir. (Rated PG, for creature violence and mild language)
DVD NAPOLEON DYNAMITE ($29.98)
Who says you can’t make a teen comedy without lots of sex and profanity? This oddball film about an übernerd was a sleeper hit. Bonus: a wedding epilogue. (Rated PG for thematic elements and language)
BOOK THE SILLY BOOK BY STOO HAMPLE ($15.99)
Originally published in 1961, this gently zany classic features poems, stories and rhymes that will tickle the beginning bookworm…silly. (All ages)
BOOK DUCK FOR PRESIDENT BY DOREEN CRONIN ($15.95)
Kids who took to Cronin’s picture books Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type and Giggle, Giggle, Quack (bestsellers clever enough to amuse adults) will love Cronin’s latest, in which plucky creatures manipulate the political process to hilarious effect. (Ages 4-8)
BOOK THE ART OF THE INCREDIBLES BY MARK COTTA VAZ ($40)
Much fuss is rightly made over Pixar’s digital innovation. But it’s good to remember that the characters we see onscreen begin with human minds and, moreover, hands. Here are the artists’ musings—in pencil or collage—for each element of the hit movie, including a page devoted to the physics of Bob “Mr. Incredible” Parr’s middle-aged belly (definitely pre-Atkins). Above, an early sketch of son Dash. (All ages)
CD MUSIC FROM THE O.C. MIX 2 VARIOUS ARTISTS ($18.98)
The second compilation soundtrack from the FOX hit features 18 alt-pop and indie rock acts like Jem, who reprises her performance of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” from last season’s finale.
BOOK SCIENCE VERSE BY JON SCIESZKA AND LANE SMITH ($16.99)
A jazzy volume for the grade-school set celebrates biology, chemistry and physics in clever parodies including “Scientific Method at the Bat” and “Astronaut Stopping by a Planet on a Snowy Evening.”
DVD SPIDER-MAN 2 ($29.96)
The rare sequel that surpasses the original—thanks to heroic work from Tobey Maguire and director Sam Raimi—Spider-Man 2 weaves a wondrous web on DVD. (Rated PG-13 for stylized action violence)
CD PARADES AND PANORAMAS DAN ZANES ($16.98)
A rousing collection of folk songs based on Carl Sandburg’s 1927 book The American Songbag highlights traditional instruments such as the banjo. Kids who want to sing along will find a 60-page booklet that includes lyrics. (All ages)
DVD SHREK: THE STORY SO FAR ($54.99)
Here’s a four-disc set that has it all: the 2001 original, a 3-D short, the winning sequel and fun extras including an American Idol-like singing contest featuring Shrek and his cohorts. (Rated PG for mild language and some crude humor)
Best Video Games
1 EYETOY ANTIGRAV (PLAYSTATION 2, $49.99)
The Eye Toy is a tiny camera that sits atop the TV and translates your body movements into game controls. That means swaying around like a drunken master to win these futuristic hover-boarding races. Cool kinetic fun.
2 ASTRO BOY: OMEGA FACTOR (GAMEBOY ADVANCE, $29.99)
In this interactive take on a classic Japanese cartoon, kids help Astro Boy—a robot with superhuman strength but regular human emotions—broker peace in a battle between humans and bad robots.
3 DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION EXTREME (PS2. $39.99)
Plug in your dance pad (sold separately) and step to the music in this fab update to the boogie-down franchise. The new installment includes a calorie counter and an Eye Toy option that brings your hands into the action.
4 SLY 2: BAND OF THIEVES (PS2, $39.99)
A raccoon named Sly tries to outsmart the Klaww gang. With goofy sidekicks, great graphics and a faux Parisian, it’s perfect for the wee (and oui) ones.
5 THE INCREDIBLES (ALL PLATFORMS, $29.99-$39.99)
As Mr. Incredible says: No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy. Now his fate is in your hands in this engaging game based on the movie.
6 KATAMARI DAMACY (PS2, $19.99)
The King of All Cosmos has accidentally destroyed the stars; you must restore them to the sky by rolling everything on Earth into huge balls. Surreal and clever.
7 THE URBZ (ALL PLATFORMS, $29.99-$49.99) The Sims get citified in this new addition to the popular series. Your mission: boosting the reps of four hipsters by socializing with the right crowd. A teen dream.
8 HALO 2 (XBOX, $49.99)
In this highly polished sequel to the hugely popular sci-fi adventure, you wield weapons in both hands and leap onto moving vehicles to kill aliens. (Warning: Recommended for 17 and older.)
9 TONY HAWK’S UNDERGROUND 2 (ALL PLATFORMS, $29.99-$49.99)
Skate pros Tony Hawk and Bam Margera recruit you to the World Destruction Tour. Fast fun, and no helmets required.
10 DONKEY KONGA (GAMECUBE, $49.99)
Ditch the joystick and grab a pair of bongos (included) to prove your rhythmic chops. A multiplayer option makes this a perfect family game.