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Bundles of holiday learning gifts

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By Claire Green, Parents' Choice President

Let's play a game

The Amazing Family Board Game Book
Ages: 6 and up
Author: Eric Berlin
Illustrator: Paul Kepple
Publisher: Innovative Kids
Price: $24.99

Open the "book" to reveal spiral-bound playing surfaces for 35 classic board games, plus two storage boxes for the rules, a deck of cards and all the necessary playing pieces. Chess, checkers, backgammon and Chinese checkers are included, of course, but also some lesser-known games such as mancala, trick track, and fox and geese. There are even some variations on tic-tac-toe and bingo. For games ordinarily played with pencil and paper, and for scoring, a write-on/wipe-off marker is provided for use on the erasable pages. Every home should have this because there is no other way to fit all these games into such a compact space (9 by 11 inches and 2 inches thick). For the same reason, don't forget to take it along on vacation in case of stormy weather. Ruth B. Roufberg ©Parents' Choice

Games: Learn to Play, Play to Win
Ages: 9 to 14
Author: Daniel King
Illustrator: Mike Buckley
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company/Kingfisher Books
Hardcover price: $16.95

With clear text and magnificent illustrations, this book details the history, rules and strategies for 14 classic board and card games. The text is written simply enough for preteens, but not too childish for adults who want an easy introduction to these games. Impressive digital artwork brings the boards, pieces, cards and moves to life. In several cases, readers are challenged to select the best next move (with answers and explanations in back). The board games include nine men's morris, fox and geese, backgammon, go, chess, mancala and checkers. The card games are rummy, cribbage, whist, spaded, hearts, blackjack and poker, but surprisingly, not bridge. Glossary, index and historical background material on games makes this a valuable resource for the family bookcase or game room. Ruth B. Roufberg ©Parents' Choice

Quarto Classic Board Game
Ages: 5 and up
Manufacturer: Gigamic
Price: $29.99

Quarto's wooden pieces are about the size of little wooden salt cellars, and the board is another solid, handsome piece of wood. This is a game of similarity. The factors are tall/short, rounded/square, solid/hollow, light/dark, with each piece containing some combination of those features. Players try to create a line in which the pieces express "family resemblance" in terms of one of those variables. But change-o!, at each turn the player gets to choose the next piece for his opponent to play - with diabolical helpfulness. Its initial simplicity makes it appealing for younger kids to tackle, but the complexities are enticing for older kids. Ruth B. Roufberg ©Parents' Choice

Comments from readers

"Amazing treasure of information and finds!!! Thank you for taking the time to put it together. "