This year’s top 10 is once again expanded beyond crafts to include a broader range of projects or activities of interest to
young people. The titles listed have been reviewed between May
15, 2016, and May 1, 2017. —Ilene Cooper
23 Ways to Be an Eco Hero: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creative
Ways You Can Save the World. By Isabel Thomas. Illus. by Chris
Andrews. 2016. QEB, $14.95 (9781609929213). Gr. 4–6.
Thomas’ upbeat tips include recycling household items that
connect children more closely with the natural world or reducing
the family’s carbon footprint.
Abracadabra: Fun Magic Tricks for Kids. By Kristen Kelly and Ken Kelly. 2016. Skyhorse/
Sky Pony, $14.99 (9781510702967). Gr. 4–8.
A British magician and his daughter pair up to present 30 easily learned feats of small-scale legerdemain, all of which should satisfy budding magicians.
Botanical Beauty: 80 Essential Recipes for Natural Spa Products. By Aubre Andrus. 2017.
Capstone/Switch, $14.95 (9781630790752). Gr. 9–12.
Teens who enjoy being pampered will revel in this unique compendium of all-natural
treatments. The mix of recipes and craft projects makes this all the more useful.
Cool Board Games: Crafting Creative Toys & Amazing Games. By Rebecca Felix. 2017.
Abdo/Checkerboard, $28.50 (9781680780468). Gr. 3–6.
This colorfully illustrated book has clear, easy-to-follow instructions that show kids how
to make everything from a minimagnet battleship game to a variation of the Game of Life.
Frightlopedia: An Encyclopedia of Everything Scary, Creepy, and Spine-Chilling, from
Arachnids to Zombies. By Julie Winterbottom. Illus. by Stefano Tambellini. 2016. Workman, $9.95 (9780761183792). Gr. 4–6.
At last! A volume containing everything scary under the sun (and moon). Along with
introductions to the frights, craft projects include old favorites fake blood and fake brains.
Knit, Hook, and Spin: A Kid’s Activity Guide to Fiber Arts and Crafts. By Laurie Carlson.
Illus. by Jim Spence. 2016. Chicago Review, $14.99 (9781613734001). Gr. 5–8.
Carlson gives readers a broad look at knitting, felting, knotting, braiding, spinning, weaving, crocheting, and dyeing. History mixes with how-to, and clear instructions will get kids
Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects. By Jack Challoner. 2016. DK, $19.99
(9781465451354). Gr. 3–8.
With style and authority, Challoner offers projects that use accessible materials and are
rooted in fundamental principles of physics and chemistry. All will foster STEM discussions.
The Official Chase ‘N Yur Face Cookbook: Tasty Recipes and Fun Facts to Start Your
Food Adventure. By Chase Bailey. Illus. by Samuel A. Bailey. 2016. Chase ‘N Yur Face,
$24.95 (9780692755853). Gr. 5–8.
Teen chef Bailey used his aversions to certain foods because of his autism as motivation to offers recipes (including dessert) that will appeal to kids’ different dietary needs.
Skateboards. By Patricia Lakin. 2017. Aladdin, $17.99 (9781481448338). Gr. 4–6.
Although this is a profile of a builder of customized skateboards, the bulk of it is devoted to the process of building a board. Fans of the hobby will get plenty of inspiration
for customizing their rides.
Unofficial Minecraft Lab for Kids: Family-Friendly Projects for Exploring and Teaching
Math, Science, History, and Culture through Creative Building. By John Miller and Chris
Fornell Scott. 2016. Quarto/Quarry, $22.99 (9781631591174). Gr. 4–7.
Minecraft is big! Here the authors connect skills in Minecraft with real-life
experiences—for example, before learning to build a virtual flying machine, learn to construct paper airplanes.
TOP 10 PROJECT BOOKS FOR YOUTH activities, like “Compose a Sea Creature Poem,” to crafts, such as folding an origami
frog. While sometimes text-heavy, the scientific concepts are generally clearly conveyed,
and the peppy commentary, factoids, and
anecdotes enliven the proceedings. Whether
explaining ocean acidification, coral-reef
characteristics, or “What’s Special about a
Cephalopod?” there’s much to inform and
pique interests here. —Shelle Rosenfeld
Mini Science Fun.
By Rebecca Felix.
2017. 32p. illus. Lerner, lib. ed., $26.65
(9781512426342). 507.8. Gr. 3–6.
Part of the Mini-Makers series, this how-to manual of science experiments is designed
for STEM enthusiasts who also enjoy the
creative, crafty aspect of projects (think
paint, glitter, yarn, and staging). Introductory material addresses how to think like a
scientist, organize tools and workspaces,
and make safety a top priority. Subsequent
chapters offer step-by-step directions for science fair–type activities, ranging from classic
(volcanoes, miniature ecosystems) to more
innovative (walking water drops, a magnet-powered merry-go-round). All incorporate
artistic touches, and one, where makers create a model of a mini science lab, definitely
embodies crafts. Pages are full of user-friendly
graphics (bulleted ingredient lists, numbered
activities, inset science and production tips,
and full-color photos of interim steps and
finished projects). Most of these activities
could be completed independently by young
readers, but adult supervision, or at least
oversight, will enhance final results. Whether
adding glitter to simulate debris in a tornado’s vortex, or turning painted clothespins
and buttons into race cars, these accessible
activities will attract budding scientists and
crafters alike. —Kathleen McBroom
Out of the Box.
By Jemma Westing. Illus. by Edward
2017. 144p. DK, $19.99 (9781465458964). 745.54.
Once kids see some of the fun things that
they can make out of recycled cardboard,
they will be inspired. The 25 colorfully
decorated STEAM projects here range from
easy (tube owls, funky flowers, lazy lizards,
a cardboard theater) to difficult (dome den,
lion mask, race car, pirate ship). Color photos accompany the step-by-step instructions,
and many projects have templates. Not every project includes the actual measurement
required for building, or states the final dimensions of the finished project, but the
photos are helpful. Although the materials,
such as cardboard, are easily available, some
projects, like the race car, require a lot of
paint, which may add to the project’s cost.
The book warns that adult supervision may
be needed, and some projects suggest that
adhesive putty be placed underneath the