A BOOK is a gift that says to a child: Here is something for you to enjoy, not just today, but for tomorrow and many tomorrows yet to come.

Here are some of the best new books on the market for children: NOVELTY BOOKS

Kids Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual by the editors of Klutz Press. This book is actually a delightful cookbook for kids that the editors have nicknamed a "kidchen manual." Intended to provide children with positive early cooking experiences, this book supports the belief that kids have to be able to experiment (sometimes making a mess) to truly learn about the world around them. $8.95 hardbound.

The Bubble Wand by the editors of Klutz Press. This book is actually a booklet accompanied by a wonderful wand that will permit children to create bubbles like they've never seen before. This set allows children to fashion giant bubbles of various shapes and sizes. The only other materials needed are enthusisam and a mixture of liquid detergent, glycerine and water. $10.

Hey Look at Me by Merry Thomasson. This book is part of a series of books where you place your child's picture in the back of the book and through the "finger hole" they see themselves become a teacher, doctor, parent or scientist. Called "Window Books," the stories provide a young child with a boost to self-esteem as he or she takes a variety of mature roles. $9.95 hardbound.

The Bug Book by Dr. Hugh Danks. This book is appropriately matched with a "bug bottle" for young enthusiasts who enjoy collecting insects. The book explains how to catch an insect and gives the child tips on identifying the bug and keeping it for observational purposes. $7.95.

The Shoelace Calendar by Workman Publishers. Not a true book, but an unusual calendar that comes in three separate formats, "365 Days of American History", "365 New Words for Kids" and "365 Bible Verses for Kids." This calendar hangs on a shoelace (provided) and the child tears off each day to reveal the next day's date or trivia. $7.95 each. BOOKS FOR AGES 4-8

The Midnight Farm by Reeve Lindbergh. This is a beautiful picture book that would delight any child who has ever been afraid of the night. The story is actually a lullaby, and the reader (or listener) counts the farm's animals as a mother and child make their rounds on the farm to see the animals bedded down for the night. Illustrated by Susan Jeffries, this book is one to treasure. $12.95.

Anno's Math Games by Mitsumasa Anno. Children will be intrigued with the puzzles which secretly reinforce mathematical concepts. Award-winning author/artist, Anno is able to engage children's imaginations by the challenge of visual stimulation. $18.95.

Where's Waldo by Martin Harford. This book is an excellent companion for children on longer car trips. The object is to find Waldo on each page. The reader must scrutinize each page to find our hero amid all the infinite details. The back of the book contains suggestions for other games involving Waldo, as well as the answers. $9.95.

Pop-Up Books: Curious George by H. A. Rey ($14.95), Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel ($9.95), and Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans ($13.95). These are a few of the new pop-up books. Although the stories themselves are not new, children delight in reacquainting themselves with familiar characters and manipulating all the movable parts of the book.

Read-Aloud Rhymes For the Very Young selected by Jack Prelutsky. This is a beautiful collection of more than 200 verses that will open young children's minds to poetry. The poems have been selected by Prelutsky, one of America's foremost poets for children, and illustrated by the popular children's artist, Marc Brown. $13.95. BOOKS FOR AGES 8-11

ScienceWorks and FoodWorks from the Ontario Science Centre. These two paperback books offer a collection of simple science experiments that kids can do at home. Many of the experiments are presented as mind- teasers or puzzles, therefore piquing the curiosity of kids. $7.95 each.

Beasts by the Bunches by A. Mifflin Lowe. This book is actually a collection of illustrated poems that describe humorous groups of animals. The reader will meet a "smack of jellyfish," a "knot of toads," and more. Definitely light reading, even older kids will enjoy the frivolity. $10.95.

The Mirrorstone by Michael Pallin. This very unusual book will have tremendous appeal to science fiction and fantasy buffs. The story centers on a young boy who stares into the mirror and sees a different face from his own. Swept into another time dimension, he must retrieve the magic mirrorstone to return to his own world. The superb illustrations come complete with holograms. $14.95.

Sons From Afar by Cynthia Voigt. Sammy and James Tillerman embark upon a quest to locate the father who deserted them and their sisters years ago. Readers who have enjoyed Voigt's previous books about the Tillermans will not be disappointed in this sixth novel about the family. Suggested for older readers. $13.95.

The Friendship by Mildred Taylor. This is another gripping novel by Taylor and is drawn from the stories of her father's growing up as a black in rural Mississippi. The year is 1933, and young Cassie Logan ventures to the country store where she sees a shocking confrontation between a former slave and a white business owner. $11.95. BOOKS FOR ALL AGES

Bonny's Big Day by James Herriot. Masterful storyteller Herriot has another marvelous story to share with animal lovers. Bonny is a drafthorse that hasn't worked in 12 years. Her owner, old John Skipton, enters her in the Darrowby Fair Pet Show on a whim. When she brings home the first place ribbon, it is hard to tell who is more proud -- the horse or the farmer. $10.95.

The Boy Who Held Back the Sea by Thomas Locker. All of Locker's books are easily recognized by their beautiful artwork, and his newest book is no exception. This is the famous tale of the little Dutch boy who tried to save his village from being flooded by the sea. $15.

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe. This is a wonderful African tale both retold and illustrated by Steptoe. The lush illustrations capture the mood of the jungle as Mufaro's daughters each attempt to snare the attentions of the king. $13.

We the People by Peter Spier. A perfect gift for the bicentennial year of the signing of the Constitution. This meticulously illustrated book tells the story behind the words of the Constitution, who Americans were in 1798 and who we are now. Children of all ages will enjoy pouring over the details depicting American life -- then and now. $13.95.

Christmas Carols by Tomie de Paola. What would Christmas be without the music of the season? This book will become a family keepsake with more than 30 carols, plus a few special fold-out pages that illustrate the carols. $17.95.

Still can't decide? Stuff those stockings with "Fast Rolling Race Car" books. These great little books come in the shapes of race cars and actually have wheels to roll on. Small enough to carry in your hip pocket or stash away in your lunch box. There are four books in the series -- each intended for children over the age of three. $3.95 a piece.

Linda Sittig last wrote for Weekend about summertime books for children.