Architecture by Richard Wood and Language and Writing by Peggy Burns and Julian Rowe (Thomson Learning, $15.95 each) Two recent titles in a groundbreaking, visually stunning series trace ideas in science and culture that underlie our intellectual legacy.
The River That Went to the Sky: Twelve Tales by African Storytellers, selected and edited by Mary Medlicott, illustrated by Ademola Akintola (Kingfisher, $16.95) A couple who adopt every orphan in their town; a boy who understands the language of birds; an aspiring botanist who brings rain to her village — stories steeped in laughter and sagacity, from across the continent.
The Harvest Birds / los pajaros de la cosecha by Blanca Lopez de Mariscal, illustrated by Enrique Flores (Children's Book Press, $14.95) In an eloquent rendition of a folktale from Oaxaca, Mexico, a young man whose "head holds many dreams" coaxes a patch of land into a green thicket of corn, beans and squash, as a flock of zanate birds imparts to him the deepest secrets of the earth.
Arthur's TV Trouble written and illustrated by Marc Brown (Little, Brown, $14.95) A cautionary tale, low-key and witty, featuring a child ensnared in the clutches of a television commercial. Should be required reading at the FCC.
The Kingfisher Book of the Ancient World by Hazel Mary Martell [Dr. Paul Bahn, consultant] (Kingfisher, $19.95) It's incredible that an outlay of two ten-dollar bills can make this tome your own: global time travel from the Ice Age to the fall of Rome, lavishly illustrated and studded with intriguing lore from archaeology, anthropology, history.
Sandbox Scientist: Real Science Activities for Little Kids by Michael E. Ross, illustrated by Mary Anne Lloyd (Chicago Review Press, $12.95) From your kitchen drawers to shelves of the five-and-dime, the simplest materials can make for untrammeled fun. The boredom blues will be vanquished for children ages 2 to 8 or more, and parents.
Two Lands, One Heart: An American Boy's Journey to His Mother's Vietnam by Jeremy Schmidt and Ted Wood, photographs by Ted Wood (Walker, $15.95) In 1975, during the chaos of the Vietnam War's final chapter, 10-year-old Phit and two siblings became separated from their parents. The children made it to America. For 16 years, Phit tried to locate her family; in 1991 she succeeded. She returned home with her 7-year-old son in an odyssey recorded in this account of an extraordinary reunion.
Mother Jones: One Woman's Fight for Labor by Betsy Harvey Kraft (Clarion, $16.95) A magnificent biography tracing the career of the legendary union organizer who became known as the "miners' angel."
Aani and the Tree Huggers by Jeannine Atkins, illustrated by Venantius J. Pinto (Lee & Low, $14.95) A testament to heroism, based on events in northern India in the 1970s. When cutting crews came to slash the forests, women and girls faced down the developers and halted the destruction. More books of this caliber might help save the planet.
Mendel's Ladder by Mark Karlins, illustrated by Elaine Greenstein (Simon & Schuster, $15) Magic straight out of Flatbush. When a drought persists, a resourceful boy climbs into the clouds, determined to get to the heart of the matter. Sprint to your bookstore for this one.