By CG News Desk

Our reviewers' best picks for '98

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Parenting books

For general reference, check out the newly released "The Parents Answer Book" (Golden Books, $35). Subtitled "Everything You Need to Know About Your Child's Physical, Emotional, and Cognitive Development, Health, and Safety - From Birth Through Age Five", it is just that, presented in user-friendly fashion.

Susan Chira's new book, "A Mother's Place- Taking the Debate About Working Mothers Beyond Guilt and Blame" (HarperCollins, $25), challenges messages from the media, politicians, the law, psychology and popular culture about what is truly best for our children.

- Susan Hodara

Kids' books

"When Mama Comes Home Tonight", by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Jane Dyer (Simon & Schuster, $14). This sweet book told in rhyme, reassures young children that even when their mothers work, they will still share a special time.

- Judy Antell

Toys

The plush Teletubbies, by Playskool (retailing for $20-25) appeal to boys and girls, from infant to teens (well, probably not teen boys). The Teletubbies are adorable and can lead to imaginative play, or just be there for a hug.

- Judy Antell

TV

"Warner Bros. Histeria!" proves again how well entertainment and education can go together in children's television. This new cartoon series from the creators of "Animaniacs" serves up history lessons in half-hour doses of wacky music and fun. Both the jokes and the historical information are surprisingly sophisticated, making this a show one on which even adults may get hooked. The program airs Saturday mornings at 11-30am on WB, Channel 11.

-Allen Rostron

Software

Pajama Sam 2- Thunder and Lightning Aren't So Frightening (Humongous Entertainment; Windows and Macintosh CD ROM; $29.99; ages 3 to 8). A terrifically fun, imaginative and challenging game. Pajama Sam learns not to be so afraid of storms when he visits the World Wide Weather station and is asked to find tools to fix the weather machines. Kids help Sam explore places like the wind bottling plant and the snowflake factory, solving logic puzzles to collect useful objects. The story line changes a bit each time you play, so there's plenty of variety to keep kids coming back for more.

- Ginger Crichton

Outings

A world away, but so close, the New York Botanical Garden has enough of everything to keep my family interested. First of all, my husband is a plant fanatic, so the indoor gardens are his Disneyland. We all love being outdoors, and there's plenty of it - 250 landscaped acres. The Children's Garden is a wonderful journey. Plus, there are always activities going on - plantings, hikes, birdwatching, flower pressing, trolley rides. Travel directions- (718) 817-8779; events information- (718) 817-8777.

- Holly Reich

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