This week was action-packed at work: my usual duties plus the Julie Andrews author visit; Family Reading Night where we welcome hundreds in for books, dinner, and literacy based fun; and yesterday I took two teams to a US geography tournament at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Can't quite get my head out of wee one mode so I have decided to share a little wee one knowledge just in case you have started holiday shopping with a young person in mind. Because, of course, books make wonderful presents. These gift suggestions reflect not only my own personal tastes but also my experience working with children. If they won't read it then what's the point, right?
The image above is the cover image of Jerry Pinkney's The Lion and the Mouse. Drop. Dead. Gorgeous. A nearly wordless re-telling of Aesop's fable of the same name, this book is set in the African Serengeti. The landscapes and the animals are captured in watercolors that practically leap from the page, that appear somehow illuminated by the color choices and dimension achieved. Each child that has picked up this book to tell me the story has succeeded beautifully. The story is that well-conveyed in images alone. The trick is getting the book out of their hands when their storytelling task is done. Can you say Caldecott? Ideal for ages 4-6 or anyone that appreciates superior illustration.
A beautiful selection for the fairy tale lover. "In exquisite three-dimensional scenes, Jane Ray retells and illuminates the story of Snow White, creating a gift book worthy of a fairy tale. Once there was a beautiful girl with skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as dark as the winter branches. In six intricate spreads, delicate paper layers let children peer in the palace window at the wicked queen with her mirror, watch Snow White run to the house of the seven dwarves, and gaze as the prince wakes her in her coffin. As the familiar text unfolds on flaps evoking stage curtains, the scenes play out in dioramas of rare depth and beauty." (from the publisher)
David Carter is a genius of pop-up books but White Noise, the last installment in his color series, is not just entertainment for the young reader. It is book sculpture. Irresistible!
Do you know that over half of a frog's bones are in its feet, and they use their feet like hands? Pick up Frogs by Nic Bishop and you will tune into this and a whole lot more info about the popular amphibian. The close-up, amazing photography of frogs from all over the world will appeal to the nonfiction lover on your list.
For older readers, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly is about a turn-of-the-century young lady who dreams of living in a tower of books, spurns the conventional expectations of young womanhood, and embraces the natural world as young scientist - with a little magic thrown in. My second choice for the 9-12 year old group is Kate DiCamillo's new novel, The Magician's Elephant. This author knows children well, and her stories draw them in to magical scapes without a trace of pandering or excess sentiment. And kids love that. This new story of an orphan boy who seeks to know if his sister is still alive delivers the reader to a fortune teller for help who offers an unusual answer that an elephant will deliver him where he needs to go.
Wow. This is a lot longer than I intended. And I could go on and on. But these are the standouts of late. Great books for small hands.