Book Reviews: Books Make Great Gifts

Dazzle the Harry Potter fans on your gift list with a copy of Wizardology: The Book of the Secrets of Merlin (Candlewick, $19.99; for ages 9 to 12), a follow-up to the best-sellers Dragonfly and Egyptology. This one is enchantingly interactive and intricately designed to provide hours of fun for humble apprentices who desire wizardly “power that must be used only for good.” Profusely illustrated by a team of artists with magical powers.

More down-to-earth readers will love Mega Motors: Heavy Duty Dump Truck (Running Press, $19.95; for ages 8 and up). There’s a book in this deluxe package – called The World of Giant Trucks – but mostly this provides the means to make your very own large, moving model dump truck. Wow! This kit has all the parts you need, including a battery-operated motor, four wheels and cardboard pieces for assembling a body – plus there’s enough information to amaze the most devoted truck-lovers.

Mystery-lovers, cooks and those who like funny books will appreciate Chet Gecko’s Detective Handbook (and Cookbook): Tips for Private Eyes and Snack Food Lovers (Harcourt, $9.95; for ages 8 to 12) “as decoded by Bruce Hale.” A spiral-bound companion to a series of 10 witty mysteries (“Farewell, My Lunchbag,” etc.) about yes, a gecko.

Finally, children’s literature fans – your kids’ teachers, perhaps? – will find The Art of Reading (Dutton, $19.99; for all ages, but mostly for adults) simply ravishing. Well-known children’s book illustrators pay homage to books crucial to their development as readers and artists, with new art inspired by those books. Benefiting Reading Is Fundamental, the nonprofit literary organization, this is subtitled “40 Illustrators Celebrate RIF’s 40th Anniversary.”

Kathleen Krull