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Ho, ho, LEGO

It’s my favorite time of year: time for the LEGOs to come out at my house. Well, let’s be honest, some of them are out all year. But I did just add the new holiday train set to my collection to run under my Christmas tree and, boy, do I love it. It’s a long-standing tradition in my family to give one another LEGO sets for Christmas, and spending time building and playing with them together has brought us an endless amount of joy over the holidays. This year will be no exception, I’m sure, and I’m looking forward to it.

If you’re doing some last-minute shopping this week and looking for something extra to add on to a gift for the avid LEGO builder in your life, here are some new LEGO-related books that just might do the trick. They may even lead to some quality creative time together.

reinhart_legoThe best part of LEGO Pop-Up: A Journey through the LEGO Universe (Scholastic, September 2016), besides the impressive pop-ups by master artist Matthew Reinhart? (See my review of one of his Star Wars pop-up books here.) It’s got something for everyone, whether young or old, LEGO newbie or long-time fan. Over five spreads, the book provides an overview of the LEGO universe, from its inception and development to the themes that have been cornerstones of the company since the beginning. It includes plenty of interesting facts perfect for sharing on the playground or at play dates — or even at cocktail parties! For starters, do you know where the word LEGO comes from? It’s a combination of the Danish words leg and godt, which together mean “play well.” And apparently an early version of the minifigure “lacked limbs, a face, and painted details, but wore a hat.” Reinhart’s pop-ups include a 3-in-1 set, castle/spaceship, Ninjago characters, and more (the last spread is particularly impressive!). He also built in additional pull-tabs and small flipbooks on each spread that are full of additional information and smaller pop-ups. This is a definite “must” gift for any LEGO lover in your life.

mcveigh_lego-ornamentsDue to the wide assortment of pieces (some of which are rather unusual) required, two new model books from No Starch Press may not be for someone new to LEGO. They will, however, be perfect for the devoted fan with a large collection of sets. Chris McVeigh’s The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book: 15 Designs to Spread Holiday Cheer (September 2016) provides LEGO enthusiasts with an unusual way to decorate their Christmas trees. The fifteen designs in this book range from Christmas  classics such as a poinsettia, present, and gingerbread house, to traditional ball and bow ornaments, to a few more unusual ones such as a computer and a burger. And when you master all of those, you can find even more designs on McVeigh’s website.

zamboni_tiny-lego-wondersIn Tiny LEGO Wonders (August 2016), author Mattia Zamboni pulled together roughly forty small vehicle designs from eleven model designers from all over the world. Multiple designs for trains and buses, airplanes and helicopters, emergency vehicles, regular cars and racecars, boats, aircraft carrier planes, and space and military transport are all included, along with variations on the basic designs. (No zamboni, though?) Ever wanted to build a LEGO Swiss Locomotive, a Ferrari F1, or a cruise ship? Well, now you can learn how. The book also has a companion website to visit for resources and bonus material, and Zamboni recommends websites for purchasing individual bricks you might need to complete any of the models.

The directions in both No Starch books are very clear; when introducing each model, the authors first provide a list of all the materials you will need to build it, then give visual step-by-step building instructions. Zamboni’s book also indicates a difficulty level for each model. In his introduction, he also makes a point of saying that “besides LEGO bricks, the only two things you need in order to use this book are enthusiasm and ingenuity. You probably won’t have all the bricks for every model, but that’s perfectly normal. Just be creative — build the model in a different color or try another workaround!” This excellent outlook, shared by both books, is their main draw: browse through the different models to find inspiration for your own building projects.

Cynthia K. Ritter About Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is associate editor of The Horn Book Guide. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons College.

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