Holiday Gift Guide

It’s gift-giving season, and there’s not a moment to lose! We present a rundown of the year’s best gifts for children from 1 to 92.

The Nursery Rhyme Book, by Andrew Lang; The Folio Society, $59.95, 280 pages, all ages. 

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Acclaimed Scottish folklorist Andrew Lang (1844-1912) scoured the world of children’s literature to compile volumes of stories, and this charming, thematically-organized collection of over 300 nursery rhymes includes well-known ditties like “Hickory, Dickory, Dock” and “Jack and Jill,” as well as lesser-known rhymes like “Ring the Bell” and “Old Betty Blue.”  Introduced by award-winning children’s book author Michael Rosen and accompanied by over 100 black and white illustrations by L. Leslie Brooke and six color paintings by Debra McFarlane, The Nursery Rhyme Book is a beautiful gift fit to stand the test of time.

*N.B.:Folio titles are only available through the Folio Society. Order early to ensure on-time holiday delivery.

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The Nursery Rhyme Book by Andrew Lang. Illustrated by Debra McFarlane and L. Leslie Brooke. Copyright 2016 Debra McFarlane. Reproduced with permission from The Folio Society.

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The Christmas Story.  Copyright 2016 by Robert Sabuda. Reproduced by permission of Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

The Christmas Story, by Robert Sabuda; Candlewick Press, $35.00, 12 pages, all ages.

The birth story of Christ is told in six deceptively simple pop-ups rendered in stark white and gold, and though this book is delicate–the manger scene is a remarkable feat of construction–The Christmas Story would make a magnificent present to those celebrating the holiday. Sabuda gave Hanukah a similar treatment in 2011 when he and poet Michael Rosen explored the 2,000 year-old Festival of Lights.

The Christmas Boot, by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney; Dial Books, $17.99, 32 pages, ages 3-7.

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A version of this book was published ten years ago (same author and illustrator) and it’s been updated for 2016. Caldecott Medal winner Jerry Pinkney’s masterful illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to Wheeler’s story about a lonely but warm-hearted woman whose generosity earns the admiration of a certain red-dressed sleigh driver.

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The Christmas Boot. Image Copyright 2016 Jerry Pinkney. Reproduced with permission from the publisher. 

The Complete Adventures of Curious George: 75th Anniversary Edition, by Margret and H.A. Rey; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $34.99, 432 pages, ages 2-8.

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At seventy-five, George is still a curious little monkey, and this banana-yellow hardbound volume with thick red spine will quickly settle into nightly bedtime rotation. In addition to the seven original tales, the book comes with a free audiobook code to listen to actor John Krasinski read the stories aloud. A lovely gift for adventurous grandchildren everywhere.

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Little One, by Jo Weaver. Copyright 2016 Jo Weaver. Reproduced with permission from the publisher.
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Little One, by Jo Weaver. Copyright 2016 Jo Weaver. Reproduced with permission from the publisher.

Little One, by Jo Weaver; Peachtree Publishers, $16.95, 32 pages, ages 2-6. 

Debut picture book author-illustrator Jo Weaver hits it out of the park with this lovely examination of the pull between a mother’s love and a child’s need to develop independence. Simple, singing text accompanied by Weaver’s soft black and white pencil illustrations highlight the beauty in nature and in family bonds. A perfect read-aloud while snuggling on a cold winter’s night.

Lego Pop-Up: A Journey Through the LEGO Universe, by Matthew Reinhart; Scholastic, $29.99, 10 pages, ages 7-10. 

Paper engineer Matthew Reinhart takes readers on a tour through the LEGO galaxy in this bright and bold pop-up book. Castles, dinosaurs, and ninjas all leap from the pages accompanied by short bursts of text. A must for LEGO fans of all ages.

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Lego Pop-Up, copyright 2016 Matthew Reinhart. Reproduced with permission from Scholastic.

@hmhco Upward Mobility   

Flying Frogs and Walking Fish, by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99, 32 pages, ages 4-8.

Tree-climbing goats, walking octopuses, flying snakes, and other creatures make an appearance in the latest scientific exploration by husband-and-wife duo Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Over forty animals climb, jet, roll, and leap through the pages, highlighting all the ways critters move. Expressive paper collage renderings of elephants, springboks, and scallops are accompanied by precise, straightforward text that both informs and delights. A glossary offers further explanation about each creature.

An engaging concept book that nurtures scientific inquiry and artistic creation.

Creature Feature

What child hasn’t tried to emulate their favorite artists’ creations? Now they have the opportunity to color alongside some of today’s most beloved picture-book illustrators. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s American edition of Draw Me! Color Me! Creatures, ($11.99, 120 pages, ages 4-8) includes work by 43 illustrators, from Emily Gravett (The Odd Egg; Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears), Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo) Jan Pienkowski (The Glass Mountain) and others whose lions, aliens, and all sorts of fantastical creatures are in desperate need of color and sparkle. Children (and adults) will revel in this who’s-who of picture-book illustrators, adding their own creative embellishments. Instructions range from simple (Jim Field’s lonely pigeon requires companions), to complex (Sarah McIntyre provides step-by-step instructions on drawing a bird using a real feather). Originally published in the U.K. by Macmillan, the majority of the collaborators are based in Europe–here’s hoping for a version including illustrators from North America.

Put this on pre-order for the budding artists in your life. (Available March 1)  

Winter Sparks

©2015 Deirdre Gill

Outside, by Deirdre Gill; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99, 40 pages, ages 2-5.

What’s a boy to do when his older brother won’t join him in wintery fun outdoors? In author-illustrator Deirdre Gill’s charming picture book debut, the child ventures out alone, and builds a grand, icy fantasy world. After constructing a castle, a gentle snowman and a fire-breathing dragon, he embarks on wondrous imaginary adventures. Gill’s large oils on paper are inviting and, despite large swaths of snow covering most pages, warm. The text is minimal, but sonorous and spare enough for young readers to follow along with ease, and adult readers may notice the subtle homage to Ezra Jack Keats 1962 Caldecott winner The Snowy Day. The plucky protagonist’s imagination will likely provide inspiration to readers who find themselves staring out their own windows this winter, wondering what happens when they take that first step.