Elves are Comin’ to Town
Santa is making a list and checking it twice with the help of his elves. The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition (CCA and B) is filled with vibrant watercolor illustrations and rhymes. The hardbound book comes encased with an elf doll like the character in the tale assigned to watch the kids in a family. According to the story, when everyone sleeps, the elf scout surveys the scene to determine who is naughty and who is nice. By the time kids wake, the elf has moved to a new location— a game families can adopt at home by changing the locale of the elf doll each night. Pick from an assortment of plush and smiling elves to choose the perfect present. When a child then names and registers the elf online, he or she receives a personalized letter back from Santa. While online, wander through the North Pole, visit Santa’s workshop, check out the reindeers’ stables, play games and collect holiday recipes courtesy of Mrs. Claus. To participate in the fun, travel to Santa’s neighborhood at www.elfontheshelf.com.

Tool Time
Disney favorite Handy Manny brings his adorable tool-wielding friends to play with your tykes at Manny’s Repair Shop. Designed for kids ages 3 and older, the tool table comes with Pat the hammer, Felipe the screwdriver plus a power saw and drill. Users pick one of 20 projects and slip the blueprint into the diagnostic center. Manny walks children through the project using an assortment of more than 40 parts to create a well-crafted product, such as a treasure chest, a birdhouse or a race car. Enjoy fix-it entertainment with Manny by shopping at www.target.com.

PJ Party
Kids get cozy in Hatley pajamas. Select from onesies and two-piece sets displaying winter prints and holidays puns. Add a pair of matching socks for cold nights or the storybook Big Bear Hug (Kids Can Press) by Nicholas Oldland for bedtime. Don’t snooze on this gift. Visit www.hatleystore.com to purchase some PJs for your favorite bed bug.

TIME for Kids presents President Obama: A Day in the Life of America’s Leader. The book delves into the daily life of President Obama, beginning with a 6:45am workout session. After exercise, accompany the chief of staff during security briefings, meetings with advisors and trips on Air Force One. Even see what dinners with Michelle, Sasha and Malia are like. Readers learn historical facts, take quizzes and appreciate photographs. Covering Washington Hill and beyond, the book is sure to inspire. For further details, embark on a top secret mission to www.timeforkids.com.

Beary Special
The North American Bear Co. presents a slew of new pals for the winter season. Carla Color-Me, a 16-inch durable doll with a removable dress and shoes, encourages children’s creativity. Another gift that can be customized, the Tutu Tulle Kit comes with supplies and templates to make a tutu. And the My Adventure Pack allows a pirate to come out of hiding. It comes equipped with a cotton canvas bag, a removable velour parrot and coloring pages. For kids known to loose their teeth, the Fancy Prancy Princess Tooth Fairy has a bag to store pearly whites. For developing minds, the ABC of Animals Activity Mat in the Velveteen Circus Collection comes with alphabetical animals in lettered pockets and easily zips up like a briefcase. To shop for these fabulous gift ideas, head to www.nabear.com.

Creature Creator
LEGOs return with LEGO CREATOR Fiery Legend, a three-models-in-one building kit for children ages 7 and older. Build a fire-breathing red dragon whose mouth glows like its flaming when you add the light brick. Then manipulate the monster into a Korean dragon or an ogre. Also check out LEGO CREATOR Fierce Creatures and Stegosaurus kits. If you dare, venture to www.creator.lego.com for more information.

Fictional Favorites
It’s the 40th anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Philomel), a book that delights readers big and small with every read. Bring a personal take on the tale to life with Color Me Caterpillar. The kit’s washable markers allow users to compose picturesque stories on the 15-inch blank canvas shaped like an insect. Like the literary suggestion? The Madeline book series always entertains. Celebrate seven adventurous decades of Madeline with the 70th Anniversary Madeline plush doll. Dressed to the nines in her Parisian outfit, Madeline is poised for a spectacular holiday season. Learn more about these literary-inspired gifts at www.kidspreferred.com.

Pretty in Pink
Barbie is definitely making runway news. New Barbie Fashionista has a haute wardrobe that expresses her distinct personality as each doll comes adorned with a purse or other accessory. Barbie’s house has also been revamped and is pinker than ever. The three-story Barbie Dream Townhouse is fully furnished with a pink personal elevator, dining area, kitchen, living room and flat-screen TV. There’s more: A luxurious bathroom and bedroom with a canopy bed, balcony and outdoor whirlpool tub are also amenities. The entire house is equipped with lights and sounds, such as a doorbell, crackling fireplace, shower, flushing toilet and light-up tiki lights on the balcony. To shop in true Barbie style, head to www.mattel.com.

Double Deal
Give one gift for two recipients this holiday season. Tales 4 Tomorrow offers a line of eco-friendly plush toys. Select one of eight endangered species to give— each has its own personality. All of the stuffed animals are made from soy and cotton, and the tags are composed of recycled paper. Five percent of the Tales 4 Tomorrow proceeds benefit one of four Conservation International Endangered species programs­— you choose. Additionally, the company has created trading cards and an interactive Web site to educate children on wildlife conservation and help save endangered species. To purchase items, journey to www.tales4tomorrow.com.

Dump It
Watch out for Rocky the Robot Truck, an animated, interactive dump truck for children ages 3 and up. Rocky dances, blinks his headlights and releases his load. He is filled with wisdom, cracking jokes and speaking his mind thanks to knowing more than 100 different phrases. To meet Rocky the Robot Truck, cruise to www.matchbox.com.

Self-Guided Tour
Got a history buff on your hands? The A Kid’s Guide Series explores customs and lifestyles from the Pueblo of the Southwest to the Lakota of the Plains in A Kid’s Guide to Native American History Chicago Review Press). Readers ages 7-9 encounter educational and entertaining projects with each chapter. Children travel through time and space, exploring the entire country. Highlights include sidebars featuring important Native Americans, engaging stories, vocabulary words, recipes, an extensive glossary, related Web sites and a list of Native American museums throughout the nation. Find the title at www.booksonboard.com.

Brain Games
Mindflex, a mental activity game from Mattel, prompts a player wearing a lightweight headset to maneuver a foam ball through an obstacle course. The ball moves from side to side when a player turns a knob that controls a gentle stream of air under the ball. And the headset controls the height of the ball. Jump through hoops, spin through loops and fly through tunnels, but make sure you do it faster than your competition. To wrap your mind around this game, visit www.mindflexgames.com.

Delectably Delicious
For the young apprentice chef, Play-Doh playsets are sure to cook up creativity in the kitchen. The revamped Play-Doh Burger Builder provides all of the molds and ingredients needed to make the best burger in town. For the pasta fan in the family, the Play-Doh Spaghetti Factory mixes up fresh pasta with a taste straight from Italy. To finish off any yummy meal, the Play-Doh Magic Swirl Ice Cream Shoppe can whip up sundaes and cakes. Toppings are a cinch to add with easy-to-use molds. These and other Play-Doh products are available at www.hasbrotoyshop.com.

Music to My Ears
Ucreate Music, recommended for children ages 6 and older, is a new digital music system for aspiring DJs. Kids can mix and remix music to create samples and tracks they can record. Ucreate Music comes with a variety of rifts, instruments, runs and back beats to invent fabulous rhythms and rhymes. Share the musical mayhem online at the Ucreate Music Web site. Bust a move over to www.mattel.com for full details.

Game On
For video game entertainment sure to thrill the gaming enthusiasts you know and love, consider the following children’s titles: Scribblenauts, Deca Sports 2, Family Party: 30 Great Games Outdoor Fun, PANGYA: Fantasy Golf, Divas Girls: Divas on Ice and Fashion Week Junior: Designer. Learn about these titles and other hot new games at www.amazon.com.

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