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Weird plus wit equals wonderful

Elaine Williams chooses activity and reference books to keep boredom at bay

It's difficult to imagine anything new could be written about dinosaurs. But humour can go a long way to giving something a fresh look. Did Dinosaurs Snore?: 100 questions about dinosaurs answered by Philip Ardagh (Faber and Faber pound;4.99, available from TESDirect) uses wit to full effect, relating facts in a warm, quirky manner that reinvigorates and lends sparkle to a well-worn topic. In similar fashion, Dinomania: things to do with dinosaurs by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom (Franklin Watts pound;9.99, TESDirect pound;9.49) creates summer madness with weird and wonderful dino stuff to make. The recreation of the volcanic eruption which brought dinosaurs to a sticky end involves basic science and lashings of tomato ketchup.

Activity books can be a godsend during the holidays if the activities are sufficiently absorbing but easily do-able. The latest batch of Usborne sticker books are just the ticket. Usborne Summer Activities (pound;4.99, available from TESDirect) include a variety of simple, well-designed painting, craft and baking projects that will satisfy children aged five and over. Usborne Sticker Maths - four books for six to seven-year-olds on times tables, fractions, subtracting and adding, pound;2.99 each - fit perfectly into the numeracy hour approach, tackling the same problem in a variety of ways through the use of stickers, a pastime children never tire of.

Encyclopedias can be daunting, especially for children, but the Oxford First Encyclopedia (pound;9.99, TESDirect pound;8.99) is brief and captivating with expressive, lively illustrations, diagrams and photographs for the reader to keep returning to its various sections. Starting with the child's body, it moves on to other people, the Earth, with its animals and plants, and beyond to science, technology and the wonders of the Universe. This revised and updated edition includes invaluable cross-referencing.

First Numbers (Usborne pound;7.99, TESDirect pound;6.99) and First Word Book (Kingfisher pound;7.99, TESDirect pound;7.49) would be excellent to dip into over the summer, especially for children moving into reception. First Word Book, with its range of vocabulary and colourful illustrations, is well researched and functions perfectly as a look-and-say book for toddlers or as a first reader for the over-fours.

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