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.

Jungle Fever

 A major fall trend in children’s picture books appears to be inspired by (mostly) wild animals .  Below are the leaders of the pack. Be sure to check out the accompanying image posts for great interior pictures! 

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The Pet Project Copyright © 2013 by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora. Reprinted by permission of Atheneum Books, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

            I asked my parents for a pet.

            My parents answered “Not quite yet.”

            They told me, “Formulate a query.

            Slowly plan your bestiary.”

This pair of clever couplets is a familiar refrain regarding pet ownership and young children. Lisa Wheeler’s scientific book of verse is a paean to every child who wishes for live pet to call her own. The plucky scientist heeds her parents’ requirements and sets out to tabulate, observe and report on all the different creatures she might like to call her own. She visits a farm, the woods, and the zoo, where the undeterred investigator notes her “field observations” in witty rhymes. (“No chocolate in a chocolate Lab? I think I’m gonna cry!”) Children will adore these funny and fast-paced vignettes, especially when the little scientist concludes which pet she would like best. Some poems will be too long for younger readers, but all ages will enjoy the observations in “Guinea Pig.” Zachariah Ohora (No Fits, Nelson!) renders myriad skunks, sheep and hippos in his inimitable style, with acrylic paint on Bristol board. 


“Paul Thurlby’s Wildlife,” by Paul Thurlby; Templar Books, $17.99, 32 pages, ages 4-7. 

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Paul Thurlby’s Wildlife Text copyright © 2013 by Paul Thurlby. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Paul Thurlby. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

In this latest offering from author-illustrator Paul Thurlby, readers learn all sorts of quirky animal trivia. Polar bears’ fur can turn green from overexposure to algae, a dog’s noseprint is as unique as a human fingerprint, and some monkeys suffer from male-pattern baldness.  As with his previous book Alphabet, Thurlby insures that this dust-jacket doesn’t suffer the rips and tears of careless children; unfold it to find a poster of an elephant taking a shower. The illustrations evoke a vintage, 1950’s vibe – many have an ‘accidentally on purpose’ beat-up look to them – yet all the images in this book are digital creations.  Despite a deceptively simple text to image ratio, adults as well as children will keep finding new elements in the images and the text to discover.  Wildlife would make the perfect housewarming gift to hip, sophisticated families.

 

“Jazzy in the Jungle,” by Lucy Cousins; Candlewick Press, $14.99, 32 pages, ages 2-5. 

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Jazzy in the Jungle Text copyright © 2013 by Lucy Cousins Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Lucy Cousins. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA. 

Originally published in 2002, Jazzy in the Jungle was recently reissued by Candlewick Press to delight a new generation of Maisy lovers.  The adorable mouse at the head of the eponymous franchise does not appear in this book, which may be good news for parents whose children refuse to read anything other than books featuring Maisy. Instead, author Lucy Cousins introduces Mama JoJo and Baby Jazzy, two lemurs playing hide-and-seek in the jungle. New readers will enjoy participating in this lift-the-flap adventure, although the interactivity of this book is not as engaging as the Maisy First Science popup series. Still, the flaps are easy for very young children to manipulate, and Cousins’ vivid colors and trademark illustration will keep children happily entertained. 

 

 

“Mr. Tiger Goes Wild” by Peter Brown; Little, Brown and Company, $18.00, 48 pages, ages 4-6.

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Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown. Copyright © 2013 by Peter Brown. Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

Mr. Tiger dwells in a proper, sophisticated environment where his fellow urbanites are well-dressed and walk on two legs. One day, Mr. Tiger is seized by a primal urge to abandon his refined ways – as well as his clothes – and lets loose, much to the surprise and dismay of his friends. Mr. Tiger sets aside etiquette and reminds readers that there’s always time for fun in this fast paced romp from city to jungle. Caldecott Honor illustrator Peter Brown used India ink, watercolor, gouache, and pencil on paper, then composited his work digitally. Cityscapes are rendered in tones of dull sepia, while the jungle, is lush and verdant. The quick pace of the text ensures that this will be a read-aloud favorite for a long time.