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Travel Gifts For The Whole Family

So you can't afford to blow the budget and take the kids snorkelling in Belize for the holidays? Don't fret. There's still a way they can see the world whether it's from the comforts of their own living room or from Grandma's. Recent trips to Toronto toy stores, book stores, and shops such as the new Canadian Geographic Boutique at The Bay's Queen St. store show that for kids today, the world is out there for the taking. Given as Christmas or Chanukah presents, the following toys, books and games have kids exploring jungles, flying airplanes, or even bouncing the world off each other's heads. My own had a good time doing just that.

Kid-friendly Globes: Even babies or toddlers would enjoy the Inflatable Vinyl Globe (Top Banana, $9.99, 440-0111). It acts like a balloon but is detailed enough that older kids could use it for homework. Toddlers would delight in squishing the large Hugg-a-Planet ball found at the Canadian Geographic Boutique (861-4152, $27.45) or the 6-inch smaller version you can order through the Selections from Canadian Museums mail-order catalogue (1-800-221-4443, $14). The My World & Globe from Thomas Allen & Son gives kids an 18-inch inflatable vinyl ball marked with continents and oceans. They fill in the rest - the people, deserts, and animals - thanks to the sheets of colorful sickers and the 64-page geography book that's included (Top Banana, $19.95).

Games: Many pre-schoolers admire the red-haired spunky Madeline who lives in Paris in a house full of vines. Now kids between four and eight can search all over Paris with her for her dog Genevieve's lost puppies. The Madeline Game from Ravensburger is a memory game which also includes a brief guide to the city of Paris (Mastermind, $22.95). A more challenging game is Take Off! by Sorowood Industries. A Toy Testing Council Best Bet for 1994, this geography game for ages six and up lets kiddie travellers fly fleets of jet markers around the world (Canadian Geographic Boutique, $47.95). The portable version, Atlas in A Box uses cards and a compact world map for four different games (Canadian Geographic Boutique, $25.50).

Carmen Sandiago: The madcap crook Carmen is everywhere - on television, on the computer screen, and in the Where in the World is Carmen Sandiago mystery geography game where she steals famous landmarks such as Tower of London. Junior detectives ages 10 and up travel the world collecting clue cards and warrants for her arrest (Top Banana, $39.99). A recent Junior Detective CD-ROM version by Broderbund Software lets kids as young as five travel via computer screen in search of Carmen and her wily gang (Mastermind ( nine locations across Metro), $59.95).

Books: Good for little hands (and great for a baby's stocking) are Boats, Planes, and Trains, chubby board books by Byron Barton showing different methods of travelling (Mabel's Fables, (two locations 322-0438), $3.95 each). Little Red Plane, with its lift-up flaps and sturdy pull tabs, lets preschoolers hop into the cockpit to loop the loop and explore the skies (Mabel's Fables, $XX). The World Giant Discovery Atlas by educational insights is fun for kids who can read about wombats and why London policemen are called Bobbies (Top Banana, $9.95). A Reed Books Canada First Activity Pack "World Explorer" lets five- to eight-year-olds learn about maps, send postcards, paste stickers, and pretend they are world explorers (Mastermind, $21.99). Older kids would appreciate the Activity Atlas from Barron's Publishers with its laminated pages and attractive relief maps (Mastermind, $24.95) or Around the World in 80 Pages, with its cartoon-like drawings (Top Banana, $13.95). Active families should enjoy The Hiking Book and Binoculars by Sharon McKay and David MacLeod (Top Banana, $14.99); young teens may appreciate the old-fashioned looking A Traveler's Journal tied up with a silk ribbon (Mabel's Fables, $17.95) or Recycled Map Stationery made out of unwanted Government of Canada maps (Canadian Geographic Boutique, $10.50).

Imaginative Travel: Tintin, the boy detective invented by the Belgian writer Hergé, travels to Egypt, Tibet, China, and even the moon, to solve crimes and mysteries. In his native land, he's as popular as Mickey Mouse and even has a theme park built around him. His dog Snowy, who accompanies him on worldly adventures, is seen "woofing," scratching and even thinking in the more than 20 cartoon storybooks. Now, youngsters can travel alongside with Tintin and Snowy made by Gund to see the world(Top Banana, $31.99 and $24.99). The new Lego Crystal Explorer Sub with its working compass and underwater equipment lets Legomaniacs explore the deep blue seas (Mastermind).

And, finally, after all this frantic shopping, one more necessary addition for the adult who's purchasing-a rubberized world ball that one can hold in a hand and squeeze. Made in Canada, it's supposed to relieve stress instantaneously (Top Banana, $2.99).





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