Growing up there was one present I looked forward to more than any other--a box of books. As an adult, it’s still a favorite and I carry on the tradition with my son, nieces and nephews. Whether you give a box full or a handful, here are a few of my favorite 2012 picture books that are perfect gifts for the holiday season.
As soon as they open the book, readers will recognize “Black Dog” by Levi Pinfold as something special. The illustration on the end pages is beautiful--snowy woods with tall, bare trees whose height is echoed by a narrow red house. Turn the page and you see the home’s interior is cluttered, cramped and delightfully cozy. Although similar in theme to the classic storyline, in this case the “monster’s” not under the bed, but outside the house. Both parents and older siblings are frightened by the mysterious black dog they see through the windows and who grows in size as each new member discovers it. It’s not the parents who vanquish the creature, but instead Small Hope, the youngest, tiniest member of the family. She bundles up, steps outside and bravely confronts it in a remarkable illustration where she is a mere yellow spot, barely an inch tall in front of a dog that covers a 2-page spread. His large, realistically rendered nose is so lifelike you can almost feel when it “snuffs” at her. Leading him on a wild goose chase, under a bridge and through a tunnel, the black dog magically shrinks in size until finally, he fits through the home’s doggie door. The rest of the family who has hidden behind a makeshift fort, wearing various household items to protect their heads, gaze in wonder at their heroic little girl.
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to help astronomers learn about the Universe. You don't need a degree in biology to help track bird populations. Interested in what whale songs mean? You guessed it—you don't need to be an oceanographer to help scientists figure it out. All it takes is an interest and computer access and you can join the growing ranks of Citizen Scientists. Most projects provide tutorials or clear instructions on their websites. You don't even have to be an adult!
What Lyra enjoyed most was scrambling across the rooftops of Oxford, committed to the serious fun of war that raged amongst the children of all the colleges and the townies in between. There were pummelings with armfuls of rock-hard plums, mud fights, and even the occasional kidnapping. Yet for all of her wild behavior, Lyra was not an ordinary child. She was a lonely, genius child with aristocratic blood in her veins, and every so often some unfortunate young Scholar would be dispatched by the Master of the College to round her up for a hot bath and tedious lessons at the start of The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman.
Jan Brett's Mossy is a special turtle because she has a gorgeous garden growing right on her shell. The moss that grows on her carapace is a perfect spot for wildflowers and ferns to take root. When Dr. Carolina sees the magnificent turtle strolling around Lilypad Pond, she takes Mossy back to her museum. Dr. Carolina believes that because Mossy doesn't need to worry about finding food, staying warm, or escaping from danger, she will be happy. But Dr. Carolina doesn't know that Mossy just met someone special—another turtle friend named Scoot—and that Mossy dreams of being back at home with her friend.
Serial readers of the Tech Answers blog probably know that I would recommend either an iPad Mini or a Google Nexus 7 for an eReader tablet and that, though they are very pretty (the devices, not the blog readers, who could be pretty, but I wouldn’t know), I would guide most away from retailer-specific hardware like the Kindle Fire or the Barnes & Noble Nook. But that overlooks one very important buying category: Cheap Tablets. These are sub-$150 and often sub-$100 devices that you’ll find at convenience and drug stores.
The entire town knew that the Vicario twins were planning on murdering Santiago Nasar, and nobody stopped the brutal murder. Determined to understand how a man liked by the town and his murderers could be killed without anyone stopping it, the narrator sets out 27 years after the event to talk to the townspeople and reconstruct what happened that fateful day in Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold.
If you own a Nook, Sony, Kobo, or other non-Amazon e-ink (black and white) eBook reader listed here and you’ve checked out eBooks from CRRL, chances are you’ve had the misfortune of dealing with Adobe Digital Editions, the gateway between most copy-protected eBooks and reading devices. If you’re planning on giving or receiving one of these toys this holiday season, you’ll want to read on. Adobe Digital Editions is poorly designed, non-intuitive and relies far, far too heavily on keyboard shortcuts and buried menus. Even with its recent, underwhelming 2.0 update, be you tech “dummy” or “genius," it’s a pain. Sadly, it’s what we’re all required to use in order to get our eBooks from the Internet to our devices. Read on to learn its secrets.
If memoirs are written to both connect with the reader and exorcise the writer's personal demons, then Moshe Kasher had one gigantic, stinky, firebreathing, sword-wielding demon.
His debut book's title says it all: Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16. Sure the Salinger-inspired pun is as obvious as a rhino stampede, but Moshe Kasher has had quite a colorful life. A life that I would not want to wish on my worst enemy.
Now a stand-up comic, Kasher was born to not one, but two, deaf parents. Mom and Dad separated within a year of his birth, and his mother took him and his older brother from Brooklyn to Oakland where a life of food stamps, less than stellar public schools, and years of therapy awaited them. This menagerie of elements was perfect for young Moshe (who at the time went by the less-Semitic name Mark) to rebel.
"Irish businessman will pay large amount of U.S. dollars to meet a fairy, sprite, leprechaun, or pixie."
The ad was posted on the Internet. Indeed, it generated numerous fraudulent responses, but the person who placed it only needed one true lead for his purposes. He had studied all he could in the mundane world he inhabited, but he knew the important secrets of the Fairy would only be known by others of their kind in Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer.
After a wild goose chase in Cairo, at last the trail led to Ho Chi Minh City. Artemis Fowl the Second, latest in a thousand-year-old line of criminal masterminds, sweltered in the heat of a Vietnamese summer, carefully noting every detail of the passersby as he waited to make contact with his source. He was accompanied by his devoted servant, Butler, who served as confidante as well as being an amazingly lethal bodyguard.
Shop local--authors that is! Many people apply this well known encouragement to some aspect of their life: visiting one of the area Farmer’s Markets, eating at a locally-owned diner or buying jewelry from the artist that lives down the street. Local authors probably aren’t on their radar, but they should be! We are home to many who write for children and teens. Their books are available for pre-purchase perusal at the public library and for sale in area bookstores. Here are a few recommended, recently published titles that are perfect for holiday gift-giving. As an added incentive they are all are set in Virginia.
“ABC’s From the Rappahannock River, With Love” by Betty Lewis Ellett can be enjoyed on several levels. Readers of any age will enjoy the lovely, full-page photographs of our beautiful river and its environs. Share only the first line of every page, and preschoolers will enjoy it as a vocabulary expanding alphabet book, for example “P...is for pier,” with an accompanying photo that perfectly illustrates the new word. Children with longer attention spans can read the detailed text and learn about the various aspects of the river, from man-made structures such as the bridges, features like the quarry, and wildlife like herons and eagle nests. This attractive and informative picture book provides a fresh look at a major area feature, and will make a great gift for preschool and early elementary aged children.