Books, music, DVDs, and games that will seem as sweet as a stocking full of candy to your little ones -- but are much better for their teeth

By Tina Jordan and Eileen Clarke
December 11, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST


Happy Feet
$19; ages 3 and up
It’s going to be a while before this penguin saga makes its way onto DVD, so until then chill out with the soundtrack. And while some of the songs are not just as you’d heard them in the movie, it will give you the chance to introduce the kiddies to some of your old faves and artists — like Chrissie Hynde (”Everything I Own”), the Beach Boys (”Do it Again”), and a hilarious Spanish-language rendition of ”My Way,” gracias a Robin Williams. And if kids ask what a ”midnight toker” is (from Jason Mraz’ version of “The Joker”), tell them it has something to do with late-night change collection.


Story by Munro Leaf; illos by Ludwig Bemelmans
$16; all ages
One of Kids’ Corner’s favorite books of the year, this reissue of a 1937 classic has the look and feel of a vintage New Yorker cartoon, And the story itself — about a little dachshund who learns to love his size and shape — is a lovely message about self-acceptance.

by The Exploratorium
$30; ages 8 and up
The Exploratorium — San Francisco’s interactive museum for kids — has published a remarkable book jam-packed with ideas and experiments (all using everyday objects, from vinegar to paper clips) that young researchers can pursue at home. Kids will like the unusual way science is presented (want to mummify a hot dog?). Parents will appreciate the fact that they don’t have to go out and buy any expensive equipment — all the experiments call for everyday at-home objects like paper clip and vinegar.

Baby Animals: Books in a Box
$20; ages 0-3
This cute little cardboard suitcase is brimming with 18 tiny board books, each featuring whimsical photos of baby animals — seals, penguins, lions, horses, lambs, turtles, and so on. Small children, without fail, love pictures of other kinds of babies — and this charmingly packaged collection is a veritable explosion of them.

By Taro Miura
$16; ages 4 and up
What does 50 pounds look like? A ton? Five tons? With Miura’s meticulously crafted book, children, even small ones, will be able to understand the concept of weight. The pictures are simple but easy to grasp: A loaded wheelbarrow is 100 pounds, and a caboose 10 tons, but a fully loaded tanker ship — shown in a glorious pull-out at book’s end — is a whopping 10,000 tons.

Charlotte in New York
by Joan McPhail Knight; illustrations by Melissa Sweet
$17; ages 8-12
Written as Charlotte’s 1894 diary and illustrated with a spectacular assortment of paintings, vintage postcards, and even prints of classic Impressionist paintings, the story follows Charlotte and her family (and, of course, her dog, Toby) as they return to New York after a two-year stint in France. Charlotte’s story is intertwined with the stories of leading painters of the day — Gauguin, Cassatt — making it an almost effortless art-history lesson.