If you're packing the car for vacation, you might want to include one of the many new books of games and puzzles to bounce along the interstate with your family, or to fill those quiet nights by the lake.
For starters, you could try one of the new packs of cards from Chronicle Books in their series called Games for your Brain. The United States deck, for example, would be perfect for a long, inter-state car trip. It's a painless introduction to our national geography that you can learn about through games like "Region Rummy" in which you try to collect four state cards from the same geographic region, or "Mountains and Molehills," that has you vieing with your opponent to find the highest or lowest point listed in the information on the card you pick from the top of the deck. If you draw the card for Washington state, for example, you'll learn that its highest point is 14,410 feet -- a sure winner if you're playing Mountains. And then there's the card game, "Ask It," that let's a child pose a parent a question like, "What is one of the most embarrassing mistakes you've ever made?"-- and vice versa. It may seem obvious, but these question cards are guaranteed to get a carload of people talking.
You'll need a steady surface to follow Roxie Munro's new book, Amazement Park, 12 Wild Mazes. Her colorful, double-page spreads of different areas and rides of an imaginary amuzement park seem pretty simple on the surface. But then just try to find your way through the intricate paths of the food court or over the Escher-like walkways of the Dinosaur Daze -- Jurassic Park without the menace. I've been at it awhile -- halfway to Orland, in fact, and I'm still trying to figure out my favorite, the Get Lost Grid.
Finally, when everyone is tired of all the normal games, you may be ready for Playing With Stuff by Ferry Piekart and Lars Deltrap -- a small book of games that are, shall we say, just a little bit out of the ordinary, even though all of the games make use of familiar, everyday things, like bendable straws (for a something called "Gaspy Graspy") or soda cans filled with pebbles (for "Scatter Clatter"). Then there's a simple game that we all can play -- "Furniture Fuddle"-- in which one of the players moves a piece of furniture in the room just an inch or two out of its normal position, and the others, who have been secluded, have to guess the change. Talk about honing one's powers of observation -- especially if you're trying to play this in the dark, in a tent.
Copyright 2005© John Cech
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Monday, 02-May-2005 12:00:42 EDT