The Week: Kids

Play Date
The Top Five: Books for Holiday Giving

Cinderella, A Pop-Up Fairy Tale
by Matthew Reinhart. Simon & Schuster, $24.95.
Little princesses will go googly-eyed over this lavish pop-up. Cindy’s pink gown is every little girl’s dream, the horses seem to bow to the reader, and the twirling ballroom dancers raise the bar on paper engineering. Reinhart, a 3-D master, also wrote the text, thankfully leaving out the part when the stepsisters cut off their toes to fit into the glass slipper. For toddlers on up.

Warriors: Dawn: The New Prophecy

by Erin Hunter. HarperCollins, $15.99.
The third book in the Warriors spinoff series stars a new generation of clannish cats who must persuade their elders to leave their homes or else suffer a terrible loss. These high-action books include mighty battles, fierce loyalty, and tragic romance, and have in-the-know kids conversing like think-tankers. For ages 10 and up.

Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You

by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. Simon & Schuster, $24.95.
The centerpiece of the best-selling “Spiderwick Chronicles,” the Field Guide painstakingly details the faerie world and includes dozens of gorgeous illustrations along with in-depth character studies of mermaids, gargoyles, and faerie species. Enthusiasts will love the section on how to conduct your own faerie investigations. For ages 7 and up.

The Gift of Nothing

by Patrick McDonnell. Little, Brown, $14.99.
A minimalist picture book (think Harold and the Purple Crayon) that kidifies the “what do you get for someone who has everything?” cliché. Mooch, the generous black kitty, is desperate to find a gift for his best friend, Earl, a Dalmatian doggy. After a thorough search and a play on words, Mooch correctly decides that nothing is the best gift of all. For toddlers on up.

The “Jenny and the Cat Club” series

by Esther Averill. The New York Review, $12.95 to $17.95.
We welcome the reprinting of the best of the late author’s thirteen-tale series, about a Greenwich Village feline, that first appeared in the forties. Jenny’s adventures take her to a shabby hotel during a frigid winter—where she meets her old friends from the Cat Club—all the way to Zanzibar, one of her stops as she circumnavigates the globe aboard the Sea Queen. Jenny’s Birthday Book is a picture book; the others are easy-to-read chapter books.


Play Date
Scrooge on Strings: Multiculti marionette ‘Christmas Carol.’
European fashion has hit the children’s market in a big way in recent years, but surprisingly, there’s been little in the way of transatlantic toys. Vit Horejs, artistic director at the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater, missed his childhood playthings—string puppets and a dollhouse-size stage—and decided to bring them Stateside, making them the centerpiece of the company he founded in 1990. This week, Horejs plays all the roles, working the character puppets and appearing himself as a bystander, in his version of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, accompanied by two choir singers who perform holiday songs in English, Czech, Hebrew, and Swahili during scene changes. The 80-minute show (without intermission), well suited to the intimacy of the 100-seat Jan Hus Playhouse, uses some three-dozen marionettes, most no bigger than a Barbie. While kids will get a kick out of the miniatures and the story of the stingy curmudgeon who discovers a good life, parents will chuckle at the provocative commentary Horejs tucks in throughout the script. “I’m very much against overly political theater,” says Horejs, who is preparing to bring the show to Prague, the city he escaped in 1978. “But little digs on political topics are always in my shows.” The real grown-up guffaws come in his ad-libs; on one recent night, when a cell phone rang in the audience, Ebenezer worked it into his conversation with the Ghost of Christmas Present. “Good theater comes first,” adds Horejs. “But it’s always political whether it talks about politics or not.” To wit a hidden statement: Tiny Tim’s famous line, “God bless us, every one,” is not in the show.

12/16–1/1; Jan Hus Playhouse, 351 E. 74th St., nr. First Ave. (212-868-4444 or; $15 grown-ups, $11 seniors and kids.

Baby New Year

Toddlers and preschoolers may not get the whole concept of New Year's Eve, but they can certainly get in on the celebration. The New York Public Library in the East Village throws a late-afternoon party for the littlest ones with storytelling, a sing-along, and a mini-countdown.

12/29 at 4:15 p.m.; New York Public Library, Ottendorfer branch, 135 Second Ave., nr. St. Mark's Pl. (212-674-0947 or
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