Reading Locally

    This year, why not shop locally for your holiday presents?  Jabberwocky Children’s Books, an independent children’s bookstore that has graced downtown Fredericksburg for over twenty years, has a wide selection and knowledgeable staff. Like most bookstores, they will special order any book they don’t have in stock. 


    While you’re shopping locally, look for books by local authors.  We are lucky to have a talented group of writers and illustrators for children in this area, many of whom I have come to know over the years.  Here are just a few suggestions.


     “Fredericksburg from A to Z” by Jill Czapla Walsh makes a great gift for the five- to seven-year-olds on your list.  Each well-known city landmark – from the James Monroe Museum to the Rising Sun Tavern – is illustrated with precise drawings in ink and colored pencil.  The accompanying rhymes capture each spot: 

“Carl’s ice cream is magic

A favorite frozen treat

Rain or shine we wait in line

The flavor can’t be beat.” 

Charming border illustrations (ice cream cones and cups of sundaes for Carl’s) add to the fun.


Betty Ellett’s “ABCs from Ghana, With Love” draws in young readers with an enticing cover photograph of a young Ghanaian boy in a big hat and glasses smiling at the reader.  Inside are more striking photos showing everything from fishermen to families, each photograph a result of Ellett’s two mission trips to the West African country.  Preschoolers and their older siblings will enjoy both the unusual (rain forests) and the familiar (books and libraries). 


Linda Salisbury’s Bailey Fish Adventure series is at seven volumes with the publication of “Captain Calliope and the Great Goateenies.”  Eleven-year-old Bailey and her friends are excited when a showman turns up at the Keswick Inn with a truckload of animals.  He used to lead a team of trick goats who could jump through hoops and dance ballet, but now he’s down to just one goat, a rooster and a potbellied pig.  When the Captain leaves on an errand and doesn’t come back, Bailey and company need to figure out what to do with the animals.  The mystery, plus an appealing animal cast, will keep middle-grade readers turning the pages.
Candice Ransom is a versatile and prolific writer for children, having published picture books, novels, historical fiction, and history.  Her new picture book, “Pony Island,” is a poetic story, with vibrant illustrations by Wade Zahares, about how the Chincoteague ponies first came to the island.  For newly independent readers who like adventure, try her true story of two kids caught in a terrifying dust storm in Depression-era Kansas, “The Day of the Black Blizzard.”   


    In Noelle Hall’s “Emily & The Captain: A Woody Point Story,” Emily feels left out when, as the youngest of three girls, she’s deemed too little to hike on the rocks or hang out with the teenagers.  But she does get to spend time with her grandfather, who tells her the most amazing stories about a sea captain who was cursed by living his life as a lighthouse.  Fantasy elements, charming spot illustrations and a genuine love of Newfoundland’s shores and bays come through on every page.


    All the above books are available at Jabberwocky, and many are available at local stores such as The Griffin Bookshop, Riverby Books, Logos Bookstore and Borders.