With so many of us sticking close to home for Spring Break again this year, you might be on the lookout for some activities and fun things for the kids to do at home. Spring weather is already here, so we plan to spend lots of time outside enjoying the sunshine and looking for all the new flowers in our neighbourhood. We’re also starting to look at Earth Day crafts and activities – check out our list here for lots of eco-friendly ideas.
When it’s raining (and it rains a lot here!), I also like having some new books set aside for the kids to keep them busy and keep them from fighting with each other. These books from Quarto Kids all have unique play elements that will entertain and engage kids through Spring Break and beyond.
Quarto Kids will also be sending a bundle of books from this post to one of our readers, so be sure to scroll down to the end to enter the giveaway!
by Lucy Brownridge & Carnovsky
Ghost stories have fascinated us for millennia. Illuminightmare, another entry in the best-selling Illumi series, reveals the history and haunted secrets of 10 of the most haunted places in the world. The spooky locations included in this very cool volume:
- Hermitage, Russia
- St. Therese Shipwreck, Greece
- Bran Castle, Romania
- Salem, Massachusetts, USA
- Tower of London, UK
- Bhangarh Fort, India
- Black Forest, Germany
- San Juan Chamula Cemetery, Mexico
- Picton, Australia
- The Giza Pyramids, Egypt
Each place has two large, colourful spreads that on the first glance looks incomprehensible. But when you look through the three-colour lens kept in a little pocket inside the cover, things start to look different. Look through the green lens to see each location and its surroundings by day. Use the red lens to see its history and regular inhabitants. Finally, look through the blue lens to reveal the hidden horrors, supernatural goings on, and ghosts lurking in the shadows.
Turn the page to the Case File to fill in all the details. On the white “Earthly” side, read more about the cultural and natural features of each location. The black “Supernatural” opposing page delves deeper into the folklore. I like that this book includes a lot more than your typical locations like the Tower of London and Bran Castle. I had never heard of Bhangarh Fort in India, the most haunted fort in the world. According to local legend, Bhangarh and its surrounding area is cursed by an evil wizard angered by his failure to win the hand of the princess who lived in the fort.
by Lucy Brownridge & Carnovsky
The latest volume in the best-selling Illumi series, Illumisaurus brings you back to the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods. Organized by geographic location, each chapter includes a “Where in the World” page that explores the habitat, an “Observation Deck” where you can see the creatures and plants native to the region, and a “Species Guide” with the name and a brief description of each.
Like every book in this series, there’s a three-colour lens in the front cover. Look through the green lens to explore the landscape and terrain that supported life back then. The blue lens reveals the prehistoric plants and animals that lived alongside the dinosaurs and made up the rest of the eco-system. Finally, look through the red lens to see the mighty dinosaurs who roamed the land. Keep your eyes open for fan favourites like massive Brachiosaurus and terrifying Tyrannosaurus Rex, as well as lesser known dinosaurs like Sinosaurus, Kotasaurus, and Antarctopelta, the first dinosaur found in Antartica.
On the next page, dino-lovers will learn more details about each of the prehistoric plants and animals presented in these pages. Learn about ancient Earth, its unique flora and fauna, how the dinosaurs evolved to be the dominant species, and how they died out. Packed full of up-to-date science as well as captivating and tremendously detailed illustrations that can only be seen through the coloured lenses, this oversize book will keep kids enthralled for a good long while.
by Ryder Windham and Cole Horton
Get to know the fastest hunk of junk in the Star Wars universe in this fully updated and revised edition of the Millennium Falcon: A 3D Owner’s Guide. Written in the style of a pilot’s manual, this unique book will guide you through every system and sensor of a Corellian Engineering Corporation (CEC) YT-1300 light freighter.
This large board book lets you look inside the ship with die-cut cardboard cross-sections that stack up to create a three-dimensional model of the Millennium Falcon inside the book itself. Young Star Wars fans will love being able to examine their favourite ship layer by layer and seeing how all the pieces fit together!
Learn little-known details about the ship’s armaments, defenses, life support, and propulsion systems. Get to know the Falcon’s crew quarters, cargo area, and engineering. Read comments and anecdotes in the margins from past owners and crew members, and be sure to review the maintenance schedule at the back. Don’t forget to schedule that hyperdrive system service every 50,000 parsecs!
by David Long and Harry Bloom
Take a trip to ancient Egypt and learn what life was like in the time of the Pharoahs. 16 detailed spreads explore various facets of life in ancient Egypt from family weddings to Egyptian royalty like Tutankhamun and Cleopatra, Learn how the Egyptians grew crops, how they built the Great Pyramid, and how they prepared mummies. Each page includes a short introduction, and 10 things to find. Can you spot the Pharaoh wearing the double crown and carrying a shepherd’s crook? How about a canopic jar used to store the mummy’s internal organs?
This large-format search-and-find book includes a magnifying glass to spot hundreds of fun and interesting details in each highly-detailed illustration. Cutaways let you see inside tombs, into the Library of Alexandria, and even underground. At the back, kids can learn a little bit about Egyptian hieroglyphics and practice writing secret messages using these symbols.
The included magnifying glass is made from thick cardboard and a plastic lens. It won’t hold up to hard use, but if your kids are careful and put it away in the little storage space in the front cover, it does a reasonably good job. If you have younger children or multiple kids, you may want to consider picking up a small plastic magnifying glass that will hold up better. If the magnifying glass does break or gets lost, don’t worry too much. It’s a fun accessory but not necessary to enjoy the book.
And if your kiddo needs a little help finding all the items, the answers are in the back.
by Katy Flint and Jessica Courtney-Tickle
The Story Orchestra series brings classical music to life for children through gorgeously illustrated retellings of classic ballet, opera, and program music stories paired with 10-second sound clips of orchestras playing from their musical scores.
The latest addition in the Story Orchestra series sets 10-second clips from Camille Saint-Saëns’ humourous The Carnival of the Animals to an original story of two brothers who discover a magical land hidden behind their bookcase. The two adventurers meet a royal lion, ride on elephants, swim underwater, fly away with a flock of colourful birds, and run from animated dinosaur bones. Each scene is set to different musical clips. The brothers eventually find their way home and reluctantly leave their new animal friends behind, but they take comfort in knowing they can always return.
The back page includes a brief bio of Saint-Saëns, a glossary of musical terms, and a description of each musical clip and where it can be found in the larger composition. Learn about the instruments, rhythms and musical techniques used in each.
The music buttons are located on the back cover so you need to make sure the pages are lined up in order to push in the exact right spot. They need a good amount of pressure to push through all the pages, so younger kids may need help to push hard enough. If you’re still having trouble getting the music to work, check that the little tab is pulled out of the battery first!
by Katy Flint and Jessica Courtney-Tickle
We have another Story Orchestra book that we love to both read and listen to. Push the buttons on each beautiful scene to hear the orchestra playing from one of the most recognizable ballets in the world. Swan Lake brings the classic story and Tchaikovsky’s spell-binding music together in a lavishly illustrated storybook perfect for reading together.
On Prince Siegfried’s 21st birthday, he follows a flock of swans to a lake where he witnesses a beautiful swan transform into Princess Odette. She has been cursed by the evil sorcerer Rothbart to live as a swan during the day, only returning to her human form at night. Only true love can break the curse. Siegfriend and Odette dance in the moonlight and begin to fall in love.
But at Siegfried’s birthday party later that night, he is fooled into proposing to Rothbart’s daughter Odile who has been spelled to look like Princess Odette. When he realizes his mistake he rushes back to Odette and the pair come up with a plan to defeat both Rothbart and the curse. The swans chase Rothbart through the trees to the edge of the lake where he slips and falls in, losing his magic.
In this version of Swan Lake, Odette gets a happy ending and reunites with Prince Siegfried, human once more. The evil sorcerer Rothbart and his daughter Odile fly away cursed to remain forever in the forms of an owl and a swan.
Like all the books in this series, the back page includes a brief bio of the composer, a glossary of musical terms, and a description of each musical clip and where it can be found in the larger ballet. Story Orchestra books are a fantastic way to introduce children to famous composers and spark their interest in classical music.
We’re giving away a fun bundle of Quarto Kids books for extra fun this spring. Enter in the giveaway widget below for your chance to win Illuminightmare, Illumisaurus, Carnival of Animals, and Swan Lake. This giveaway is open to residents of Canada and the USA, 18+. All the winner’s entries will be verified.
Click here to check out my other open giveaways and be sure to follow me on Facebook!
Disclosure: I received sample items to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ. This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, at no additional cost to you.