Staff Writer
Columbus Parent


A Mother's Guide to Sanity in Stilettos"

by Laura Bennett

Any ardent fan of TV's "Project Runway" knows Laura Bennett was one of the breakout stars from Season 3. The impeccably groomed redhead with a wicked sense of humor and even better sewing skills spent the season pregnant with her sixth child. Four years later, Bennett has expanded her skill set to include memoir-writing. But don't let the posh Manhattan locale fool you into thinking Bennett has nothing in common with Midwestern moms. Behind that Donna Karan cocktail dress and Birkin handbag beats the heart of a fiercely loving mommy with some hilarious (and empowering) things to say about parenting.

-- Jane Hawes

"Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?"

by Audrey Vernick

Buffalo has his backpack, knows about taking turns and sharing, and is an excellent hoof painter. He's ready for kindergarten! Reading this hilarious book together might help convince your little buffalo he's ready for kindergarten, too. Best for ages 3 to 7.

-- Laura Nawojchik

"The Night Fairy"

by Laura Amy Schlitz

When a bat mistakenly bites off her wings, Flory the night fairy needs to learn how to survive - without her wings, during the day, and in the garden of a "giant." This beautifully illustrated book features a fairy who's charming, but also smart, brave and self-reliant. Best for ages 6 to 10.

-- Laura Nawojchik

From Columbus Metropolitan Library's Laura Nawojchik, Youth Services Librarian at the Whetstone Branch

"I'm the Best" by Lucy Cousins

Dog is the best. He's better than Ladybug, Mole, Goose and Donkey at everything. Isn't he? See if Dog learns a lesson about boasting in this funny new book by the creator of Maisy. Ages 2-5.

"Beaver Is Lost" by Elisha Cooper

Beaver is lost in the big city. Will he ever get back home to the lodge? Tell Beaver's story together as you explore this entrancingly illustrated, nearly wordless picture book. Ages 3-6.

"Fish" by Gregory Mone

When the purse of coins he was entrusted to deliver is stolen by pirates, "Fish" Reidy ends up boarding a pirate ship and joining the crew to get it back. Fish is an excellent swimmer, but will that be enough to let him survive an adventure with a horde of bloodthirsty, filthy, mutinous pirates? Ages 9-12.

"Finnikin of the Rock" by Melina Marchetta

Ten years ago, the King of Lumatere was murdered, many of its people slaughtered, and the kingdom sealed off from the rest of the world with a powerful curse that lets no one inor out. Now Finnikin, son of the head of the King's Guard, must travel through his world's other kingdoms, risking everything to gather Lumatere's survivors and somehow bring them home. For teens.


Explore Harry Potter's first few years at Hogwarts in the Lego universe. This multiplayer cooperative platform game will have players jumping and puzzle-solving while slinging spells. From Multiple Game Systems ($60). Good for ages 6-plus.

-- Shawn Sines

"ModNation Racers"

Kids love racing against friends and family but add in the ability to create your own tracks and you have a recipe for long-term fun. This kid-friendly racing game from Sony is a good buy for parents seeking a way to encourage creativity in a video game. For PlayStation 3 ($60). Good for ages 10-plus.

-- Shawn Sines


Carl is a cute, toaster-shaped creature who loves to repeat anything you or your child says in his funny voice.Poke or pinch Carl, and he'll respond.Tickle him, and he laughs out loud.Forget him, and he'll grumble.Fun for all ages.

-- Phil Pikelny

"Alice for the iPad"

Share the story of "Alice In Wonderland" with your children as only the iPad can present it. This appgives reading a whole new meaning. Pictures animate as you move your iPad.Characters and scenesliterally come to life and interact with you and your children.Provides sharing moments for parents and children.

-- Phil Pikelny

"Smack Talk!"

Play with an animated puppy, kitten, guinea pig and Chihuahua on your iPhone/iPod/iPad. Push one of the trigger buttons and your on-screen playmate comes to life. Each character can also repeat any phrase you say. The app is so interactive, you can even change the voices of the characters. Fun for all ages.

-- Phil Pikelny

"Crasher Squirrel"

If you and your children enjoy taking photos with your iPhone, spice them up with this app for all ages. Take or load one of your favorite pictures, then add Crasher Squirrel to the scene. Create and share a mash-up that will make friends and family wonder . . . can this photo actually be real?

-- Phil Pikelny


The Putumayo World Music label celebrates globally diverse tunes and, for 20 albums now, their Kids division has been doing the same for the pint-sized demographic. The latest album, "Rock & Roll Playground," sticks close to the good U.S. of A. and, in particular the 1950s early rock era for its stylistic inspiration. Familiar tunes like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and "Oh, Susanna" get an imaginative makeover while newish tunes like "Sleep the Whole Day Through" have chuckle-worthy lyrics for kids and parents alike. This album feels a little slicker than previous offerings, but it's still a great listen.

-- Jane Hawes


ARKive is an unprecedented, award-winning effort to gather in one place images and videos of life on earth, especially the most endangered. This digital library is freely accessible and encourages conservation while allowing visitors to experience animals and behaviors they will never see in person. There are also educational pages for students that include learning tools and interactive games.

-- Laura Nawojchik