Written by

Mia Quagliarello

2:26 pm

February is the month of love—and we certainly love these pop culture picks for busy parents (and kids, too). Turn that Nintendo Switch that Santa brought into something tactile, learn the scientific secrets of when to make the best decisions, and sit out the long year of no new Game of Thrones episodes with audiobooks narrated by the cast. But first: a book that will chill…

1. Will you or won’t you read The Perfect Nanny? That is the question. Based on a horrific true story about a murderous nanny in New York City, this book by the Moroccan-born Leila Slimani is a working mother’s worst nightmare, and yet, in the writer’s hands, “the unthinkable becomes art,” says NPR reviewer Maureen Corrigan. Just translated from French, The Perfect Nanny won France’s most prestigious literary award, but the pleasures of a good book might do battle with the dark shadows of reality and the motherly guilt it could stir up.

2. It’s been a bit of a box office bonanza lately in terms of films both you and the kiddos might enjoy. First off, who could have predicted that Paddington 2 would be so delightful and such a hit, with Hugh Grant stealing the show? Then, Mary and the Witch’s Flower is a step toward independence from animators who spun out of Studio Ghibli (My Neighbor Totoro) when Hayao Miyazaki retired in 2013. (Slate says Mary is like “Harry Potter directed by Miyazaki.”) But the denouement is going to be The Black Panther, opening on February 16, featuring Marvel’s first person of color as the main character in 17 films. This groundbreaking fact aside, first reactions to the movie itself are already quite enthusiastic.

3. Parents can be some of the most efficient people in the world—we have to be! So consider Daniel H. Pink’s latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, a little tool in your bag of tips, hacks, and do-what-you-gotta-do-to-survive-the-day stuff. Pink studied the best times of day to make the best decisions. While some of the takeaways feel intuitive (“the p.m. slump is real”), the impact of those facts might not be—like afternoon doctor’s appointments. “According to a study, doctors found an average of more than 1.1 polyps during colonoscopies performed at 11 a.m. By 2 p.m., it dropped to barely half that number, even though the patients were no different.”

4. Was it a Merry Switch-mas? Nintendo Switch was atop every kid’s wishlist this past holiday season. No news there. Cue the new Nintendo Labo, which lets you build Switch accessories from cardboard and helps kids engage with their game system in a more tactile way. “Here is a toy specifically designed for nerdy parents like me,” writes Charlie Hall in Polygon’s complete guide for parents. The cardboard accessories can transform the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers into a fishing rod, a piano or even a robot suit, turning the tablet into a tiny arcade. Learn more in The Verge.

5. It’s true: no new Game of Thrones episodes until 2019! If you don’t think you can live that long without the lilt of some of your favorite characters, never fear: the cast and George R.R. Martin himself have narrated an array of audiobooks, including titles for kids (Tyrion Lannister doing Dr. Seuss, anyone?), fantasy fans, and fiction buffs.

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