Staff Writer
Columbus Parent


by Rukhsana Khan

Rubina is invited to her first birthday party. Since they do not celebrate birthdays, she has to explain to her mother what it is. Her mother insists she take her little sister, Sana to the party. When Sana ruins the party, Rubina does not get another invitation for a long time. This book teaches about other cultures and friendship. Best for ages 4 to 9.

"Are You Eating Something Red?"

by Ryan Sias

This book is wonderful for teaching colors to babies and toddlers. The little green apple asks if they are eating things that are different colors. Each page has many examples of foods of a certain color such as apples, strawberries and watermelon. This book also promotes healthy eating and vocabulary.

Best for ages 0 to 3.

"The Total Tragedy Of A Girl Named Hamlet"

by Erin Dionne

Eighth grader Hamlet has a genius 7-year-old sister and parents who are Shakespearian scholars. They wear cloaks, tights and speak Elizabethan English. To make matters worse, her 7-year-old sister will attend junior high with her for several classes each day. When her school starts studying Shakespeare, Hamlet realizes she has an unwelcome talent. This book is full of interesting characters and will give young readers a glimpse into the works of Shakespeare. Best for ages 8 to 12.

"The Carrie Diaries"

by Candace Bushnell

Carrie Bradshaw, star of HBO's "Sex and the City" series, is a senior in a small town high school. She wants to become a writer and is trying to find her voice. She deals with bullies, disappointing boyfriends and getting into college. The content is age appropriate for teens and is not as mature as her books for adults. Best for ages 15 & older.

"My Friend Is As Sharp As A Pencil and Other Funny Classroom Portraits" by Hanoch Piven

A little girl is tired of answering the same old questions the same old way. Instead of telling her grandmother about her favorite teacher and her best friend, she decides to show her. Young readers will enjoy the creative collage art. This book may inspire some creative activities for you and your child. Best for ages 4 to 8.

"The Cupcake Queen" by Heather Helpler

After her parents decide to separate, Penny and her mom move to small town, Hog's Hollow from exciting New York City. The split becomes more permanent as her mother opens a cupcake bakery. Penny must deal with bullies, divorce and feelings for a mysterious boy. Best for ages 11 to 14.

Kris Hickey is a youth services leader at the Whitehall branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.


Dara Torres is the 40-something mom and phenom who swam (and medaled) in her fifth Olympic Games in 2008. So of course us other moms are going to be interested in what she has to say about fitness. Her first book is more a biography and the disconnect and purely functional relationship she has with her infamous iron abs is fascinating. The second book is a how-to, though the dietary recommendations careen wildly (especially in the breakfast department) and the "revolutionary" stretching regimen borrows heavily from yoga. But both books are intriguing and can be inspiring if you're open to putting yourself inside a world-class athlete's headspace.

-- Jane Hawes


Get the family together for some Karaoke fun featuring 30 Disney favorites. This title offers wholesome songs and great bonding opportunities for the whole family. Eight-player support means everyone can pass the microphone and get in on the fun. From Multiple Game Systems ($40). Rated E for Everyone.


Sony takes the virtual pet craze a step further thanks to EyePet. Using the EyeToy camera add-on for the PlayStation 3, players interact with a fantasy creature on-screen. Work together to train your "family pet" and teach it new tricks ($40 standalone game, $60 with camera). Rated E for Everyone.


Gesundheit! For a game that is great fun and easy to play, enter the world of Sneezies ($1). Cuteness defines this game in which you introduce a burst of sneezing powder into the scene, then watch as these characters sneeze themselves out of bubbles in an amusing chain reaction. Your child tries to save as many Sneezies as possible. This game features 45 levels, beautiful graphics and funny sound effects.

"Cake Doodle"

Does your child express an interest in cooking? You can buy an Easy Bake Oven for $27 and deal with the inevitable mess, or you can go with Cake Doodle for $1 and keep the experience virtual. This iPhone/iPad app makes a virtual cake in under a minute. It lets your kids get involved in all the steps from design (12 styles) to choosing ingredients (eight flavors) to mixing them to baking to decorating (49 frosting colors and 74 icing tips).

"Kids Allowance and Rewards"

For Parents/Bankers Only! All parents know their children respond to money and rewards. Now (for $5) you can track the allowances, grades and assignments of all your kids on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch using this app. It even lets you track loans that your son or daughter can pay with future rewards.

"A Family Matters"

This app offers a set of conversation-starters designed to help foster family communication. This is not a video game. Instead, the $1.99 app has about a thousand questions and activities designed to engage kids of all ages in 15-minute or so conversations based on their current location e.g., while waiting for a table in the restaurant, at a doctor's office, at an airport.

-Phil Pikelny


Science Buddies custom designs science fair projects based on a young person's interests. The Free Topic Selection Wizard takes the student through a series of questions and then offers suggestions and instructions. The suggestions are age appropriate for students in kindergarten all the way through 12th grade. Good for ages 6 to 18.

-Kris Hickey