Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Doing & Learning
The Goods: Volume 1

The Goods: Volume 1

Fall 2013 Doing & Learning
Ages: 8 & Up
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763668945
Hardcover Price: $22.99

You need to know about McSweeney's to grasp the possibilities of this book called The Goods—a crazy, remarkable compilation of persistent fun, games, activities and brain joggers for young readers that even veteran readers will enjoy with a knowing smirk and nod toward its creativity and multitude of talented contributors.

McSweeney's is an American publishing house quite unlike others. Founded by Dave Eggers, author of six books including the acclaimed, off-beat A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, McSweeney's started as the magnet for cast-off writers who couldn't break through to the other side of publishing-meaning they couldn't get published elsewhere. Since then it has made names for many of its writers and now publishes a long list of reputable and talented writers and artists, and boasts a children's book department that lent this book its content.

Featuring some of children's literature's best-known authors and illustrators, this compendium of unrelenting amusement is a literary carnival of games, puzzles, comics, factoids, short stories, visual nudges and perks, plus other oddities and diversions. On one page, you'll find a page of Rasputin Paper Dolls that camouflages educational info about the mad Russian eccentric as a paper doll exercise. On another page, you'll find a Vision Quest challenge to differentiate the differences in two images of comic race cars.

Some items are full pages, like the "How to Draw a Pelican" page that detours into a "Fish Faces" exercise and an incredibly intricate "Scuba Maze". And some pages are full of items and squiggly drawings, like the "Perceptive Palmistry" page that also has a Treasure Hunt, Draw the Sounds and Nicknames segments on it! There are times when you simply cannot figure out what's going on without focusing really hard-which may be the point.

This book is nuts. Good nuts. The right kind of kid, (with good eyesight since some of the fonts are miniscule), will embrace not only these pages but the entire uber-creative, left-field, hipster-like, educational concept behind them.

Don Oldenburg   ©2013 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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Candlewick Press

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