These two activity books are very different in spirit, but both good stuff for those long summer days when boredom threatens and grade schoolers need something to do with themselves.

spot-the-difference2.jpgSpot The Difference
by Tak Bui

Tundra Books
ISBN: 978 1 77049 279 0

This book features some ## “spot the difference” puzzles, in which changes have been made to a picture, and it is up to the reader to figure out what they are. These are fun puzzles, and I don’t know any kids (or me, actually) who don’t enjoy the challenge. The pictures in this case are all drawn – fun little cartoons with lots of details that remind me of a less-busy version of Waldo books (remember those?).

I showed this to Girl 8, who agreed that they were fun, but also felt that it would be nice to know how many changes you were looking for. The list of changes in each picture is at the back, but not a number of changes you are hunting for, which would be nice for the goal-oriented among us. Otherwise? Hours of fun to be had here, great also for waiting rooms, car trip stopovers, and so on.

PickUpYourPen_Cover_large.jpgPick Up Your Pen
by Monica Dengo

ISBN: 978 1 92697 311 1

This book is essentially a practice book or workbook of sorts for refining and exploring “the art of handwriting,” as the title calls it, but it is also an encouragement for children to not only practice their basic penmanship, but to explore different styles of lettering. There are printing and script letters to copy out, but for each letter, there are also some other, funkier takes to get kids inspired to think about what they might want to do with a letter, and have some fun getting creative with their fonts.

This is sure to appeal to parents who bemoan the lack of emphasis on penmanship in schools these days, but equally delightful for the design geek or the artistic type who would have fun with the idea of doodling out your own awesome alphabets. This and a pack of markers could make for a great gift for an artistic child, too! 

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