BOOKS AND SPRITES

“Build iOS Games with Sprite Kit,” by Jonathan Penn and Josh Smith, $34 from PragProg.com. It shows you how to make games for the iPhone and iPad. You learn how to build two games that are fun: One is a pinball game and the other a version of “Asteroids.”

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GETTING PUBLISHED

Publishing your book on the Kindle or the iPad is free and open to anyone, but the steps involved can be tricky. A company called “Tablo” will do it for you.

Tablo is new to the field and charges $8 a month to publish to the iPad and Kindle, but you can use the service for free until you’re ready to publish. They assign the “ISBN” number and handle the technical parts. All you have to do is upload a Word document.

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SHARING A MOVIE, A SONG OR AN AUDIO BOOK

Here’s a $10 gizmo that should make plane rides and train trips more fun. Instead of just watching your own movie on your own gadget, watch it together with a friend or family member.

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BOOK: IPAD AND IPHONE KUNG FU

A new book, “iPad and iPhone Kung Fu,” by Keir Thomas, $19 from the Pragmatic Bookshelf, promises to turn you into an Apple ninja.

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READ ‘EM AND WEEP

The refined grist of hundreds of conversations has taught us that everybody wants to be a writer. Now they can. You and you and your Uncle Max can publish their fiction and non-fiction on WattPad, an online site. It also has hundreds of free classics, such as “Jane Eyre,” “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” The web site, Wattpad.com, draws15 million readers a month. And posts more than 1.5 million new stories. Some are from best-selling writers, like Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” But most seem to be from teenagers, who display an inordinate interest in sex. Who knew? Random example: “I’m the SuperModel in a BoysBoarding School.” Not only are these […]

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LEARN TO PROGRAM WITH SCRATCH

“Learn to Program With Scratch,” by Majed Marji, $35 from NoStarch.com.

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BOOK: A THEORY OF FUN

“A Theory of Fun for Game Design,” by Raph Koster, $35 from oreilly.com, is now out in color, with a full-page cartoon flanking every page of text. The author was the lead designer for massive online games such as “Ultima Online” and “Star Wars Galaxies.” He discusses what makes a game fun and how games can teach primitive survival techniques. Creative designers, he says, use other games for inspiration. The forward is by Will Wright, creator of SimCity.

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SCIENCE BOOKS

“Survive! Inside the Human Body,” by Suk Young Song, is a series of three 180-page comic books, each of which is $18 from NoStarch.com. The books were originally published in Korea and have now been translated for the American market. They sold more than 20 million copies in Korea and they are terrific.

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BOOKS: PROGRAMMING FOR KIDS

“3D Game Programming for Kids,” by Chris Strom; $36 from oreilly.com. Here’s a great system for teaching you to program, no matter what your age.

All you need is a computer and preferably the Chrome web browser, though anything except Internet Explorer will do. The author explains things so well that in literally a few minutes, Joy had created a colorful ball and cube on her screen and was able to animate them.

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LEGO BOOKS

You can do a lot with LEGO  blocks, but surely nothing more remarkable than what’s pictured in these two books from No Starch Press. Should keep the kids busy over the holidays. — “Beautiful Lego” ($30), by Mike Doyle, is all pictures of completed projects, and beautiful they are, everything from a haunted house that seems to be falling apart, to a fantastic city floating in space. — “More Amazing Vehicles ($20), by Kuipers and Zamboni. Using step-by-step photos and instructions, the authors show us how to build anything from a Formula One race car to a fork-lift truck.  

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