$5-$10 • various sites

Touch screens and app stores offer all sorts of new tricks to e-books for kids.

The "Miss Spider's Tea Party" app ($9.99 Callaway Arts & Entertainment), for example, is a nice iPad rendition of David Kirk's story about a lonely spider. You click to find hidden surprises, play with a jigsaw puzzle or do a mediocre coloring activity. But new e-books are not just for the iPad or Kindle. Electronic Arts has released the first of six "Flips" books for the large Nintendo DSi XL -- $5 each to download from the DSi Store.

"Alice" for the iPad ($8.99, Atomic Antelope) boils the classic down to 50 beautiful color prints; you interact with the story by tilting or shaking the screen to move a character.

There's also Dr. Seuss' "ABC" and "The Cat in the Hat" ($2.99 each, Oceanhouse Media). Kids swipe through illustrations, and can make the words zoom out of the text and land on the pictures.

Disney's "The Princess and the Frog Read-Along" ($8.99, Disney Interactive Studios) is also noteworthy.

Try a free preview with your child. You'll have a better chance of a happy ending.


$550 • www.sony.com

Sony has just unwrapped its entrants in the mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera category, and they raise the bar -- and lower the cost -- for this class of hybrid camera.

The new cameras, Alpha NEX-5 and NEX-3, are almost identical; the only differences are the chassis design and high-definition movie capabilities. The NEX-3 is the lightest mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera available; the NEX-5 is a bit heavier.

These cameras are also among the smallest in the category.

Both cameras will be sold with either a 16-millimeter pancake lens or an 18- to 55-millimeter zoom. They will hit stores in July, with prices starting at $550, lens included.

Autofocus, which has been a stumbling block for some cameras like this, is reportedly fast, accurate and largely silent. And Sony says a simple, intuitive interface will make it easier for point-and-shooters to move up to a more capable model.

The cameras have other neat tricks, including a Sweep Panorama feature, to stitch together horizontal or vertical panoramas.