By Kate Samworth (Clarion Books; $17.99; ages 9-12)
Recent Pennsylvania Acad- emy of the Fine Arts graduate Kate Samworth won the $50,000 Kirkus Prize for the stunning, tongue-in-cheek Aviary Wonders Inc.: Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual. The book purports to be a mail-order catalog, circa 2031, from which cus- tomers can order bird parts to make their own friendly flyer. The beauty is in the detailed and florid cutouts — beaks, feathers, bodies, tails and legs, as well as wing shapes, collars, combs and flying patterns. Though it has no prices, the book is an otherwise thorough fake catalog, including instructions, part-assembly troubleshooting and even an order form. Amusing and beautiful as it is, the book also amounts to a wry commentary on vanishing bird species and the general commercialization of nature.
By Phillipe Ug (Prestel; $19.95; ages 4-12)
From its cover and shape, Robots: Watch Out, Water About! looks like an ordinary book with a schematic robot on the cover. Only when you open it does its full dimensions show, and even then, it takes getting to the last page to be really impressed with the full- scale robot that jumps up to twice the height of the book. French paper-engineer- ing wizard Phillipe Ug’s simple story of re- tooling corroded robots gets all the gears moving again in another impressive popup that leads to the giant at the end.
By Simon Abbott (Ticktock; $12.99; ages 4+)
Simon Abbott packages surprisingly sophisticated info on the science of the senses in the simple form of a flaps-and-popup book. Colorful childlike images of kids learning in settings like a bucolic overnight adventure in a field are packed with flaps on smell. The text notes that people can distinguish 10,000 scents and that butterflies smell with their feet. An explanation about the body’s intricate amplification process incorporates a popup of a sound penetrating the inner ear. It’s all wrapped up in an attractive package that looks less like learning and more like discovery.
Frank Lipsius is a contributing writer to MetroKids.