Gift Guide: Kids & The Eternal Kid
From thinking to tinkering, by way of color, music and photography.
By Maria Popova
This is Part 2 of the three-part Brain Pickings holiday gift guide. Today, we’re looking at goods and goodies for kids of all ages and the eternal kid in everyone.
HERE COMES SCIENCE
Indie rock icons They Might Be Giants are among the most revolutionary musicians of our time. Their critically acclaimed Here Comes Science children’s series lives up to their relentless thinking-in-all-kinds-of-directions innovation and consistent excellence. The 2-disc CD/DVD album is a bundle of creativity and entertainment, tied with a ribbon of education. Although aimed at the K-5 set, the playful lyrics and brilliantly animated videos are an absolute treat for musicologists and design junkies alike — we can attest.
We reviewed it in full, with trailers and more, here.
Perfect for: Musicologists, science lovers, those into creative and non-traditional education
FUJIFILM INSTAX MINI
Polaroid may have barely escaped the kiss of obsolescence, but instant film cameras will always hold immeasurable nostalgic charm in the digital age. The new Fujifilm Instax MINI offers a lovely twist on your dad’s old Land Cam, packaged in a gorgeously designed Mac-ish white body that’s just a joy to hold and look at. It prints credit-card-sized photos and, for those interested in the technical shenanigans, has a built-in flash, four exposure settings for indoor and outdoor shooting, and — our favorite — a wicked wide-angle lens that makes for some gorgeous, gorgeous shots. It’s a return to simpler times of no memory cards and USB cables and i-anything. But it gives you more creative control while still being a no-brainer to operate.
Sure, we love (love love) the design, but we’re even more taken with what it stands for — an analog connection to the fleeting moment, celebrating the essence of the presence in a way that preserves it for the future.
Perfect for: Budding photographers, creatively inclined kids, design aficionados, hopeless nostalgics, retro lovers
Who doesn’t love a good pop-up book? Marion Bataille‘s ABC3D takes the familiar genre it to a whole new level.
Slick, stylish and designerly, it’s hard to capture its tactile, interactive magic in static words — you have to have it in your hands to truly appreciate it.
We took a closer look, along with 4 more creative alphabet books, last week.
Perfect for: Designers and their kids, bookbinding geeks, paper craft lovers
PART OF IT
It’s never too early — or too late — to introduce the idea of the conscious consumer. And when it’s done with quirk and creativity, it’s bound to engage, inspire and, well, effect change. Enter Part Of It, a wonderful venture founded by illustrator duo Christopher Sleboda and Kathleen Burns in 2007, working with artists to create products for causes they are passionate about.
From Helvetica alphabet t-shirts to a lovely tote bags, profits from these goodies benefit charities chosen by the artists. (Who, by the way, include Brain Pickings darling Adrian Johnson.)
Perfect for: The socially-conscious and design-driven
THE INDIE ROCK COLORING BOOK
Indie music defines itself through the colorful quirk of its artists and evangelists. Without that, it would blend in with the grey mediocrity of the mainstream. For the past two years, obscenely talented UK illustrator Andy J. Miller has been working on a project that celebrates this whimsy. Today, he finally releases the Indie Rock Coloring Book — a wonderful collection of hand-illustrated activity pages, mazes, connect-the-dots, and coloring pages for indie icons like Bloc Party, The Shins, Iron & Wine, Broken Social Scene, Devendra Banhart, MGMT, The New Pornographers, The National, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
We reviewed it in full, with trailers and more, here.
Perfect for: Indie music fans and their artistically inclined offspring
Photographer and all-around geek Theodor Gray spent 7 years gathering objects, from the fascinating to the mundane, that embody and exemplify the 118 elements in the periodic table. Then he shot them brilliantly, producing The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe — an utterly captivating exploration of the matter that we, and all the things around us, are made of.
Set to the first authorized video version of Tom Lehrer’s iconic eponymous song, The Elements video gives you a taste for what to expect from this gem of a book.
Perfect for: Neo-geeks, science junkies, photography lovers, visual learners
We’re firm believers in the power of tinkering in developing creativity.
And there’s nothing more stimulating to the creative brain than playing with simple, flat shapes and basic colors to produce a near-infinite variety of 3D whimsy. Which is why we love this 100-piece set of clear-color magna tiles. Sure, kids will be all over it, but we dare you not to love it yourself.
Perfect for: Tinkerers, builders, color lovers, budding industrial designers
In 1926, English author Alan Alexander Milne took a shelf of his son’s stuffed toys and turned them into some of the best-loved books ever published — the Winnie-the-Pooh series was born. This year, 81 years after Christoper Robin and the gang left the Hundred Acre Wood, they are back for a new adventure.
Return to the Hundred Acre Wood is among the most epic comebacks in English literature. Although Milne himself is long dead, the new book is written by David Benedictus — who also produced the audio adaptations of Winnie-the-Pooh, starring Dame Judi Dench — and meticulously based on Milne’s Pooh stories, with artwork by Mark Burgess in the style of original illustrator E. H. Shepard.
We reviewed it in full here.
Perfect for: Readers, nostalgics, Pooh lovers of all ages
We love LEGO — who doesn’t? And what better way to learn about the man-made hallmarks of our civilization than by building them with your bare hands?
No, you won’t be lugging mastabas across the Egyptian desert — we’re talking about the LEGO Architecture Series. From the Taj Mahal to Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces, you — or your little one — can get down and dirty with humanity’s greatest architectural achievements.
Perfect for: Tinkerers, builders, architecture lovers
CRAYOLA EXECUTIVE PEN
Ah, Crayola. Easily one of the most beloved brands of all time. Even just saying the name evokes that distinct, wonderful smell of your first crayon.
Now, you can resurrect your inner kid with a lovely, desk-job-safe Crayola Executive Pen, in orange, green, violet and yellow. Need we say more?
Perfect for: Everyone!
Published December 9, 2009