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!
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.
"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.
I was never the new kid at school, but I had plenty of moments when I felt like I didn't fit in or belong. That is why I identified immediately with the titular character of Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School.
To our schoolboy narrator, Marshall looks like trouble from the start. He wears a tweed jacket with leather patches with a ragtimey hat covering his head. "He looks different to me."
The nitpicky observations continue. His glasses say "Ray Ban" so they must belong to another boy. The food Marshall eats at lunch all comes in silver wrappers, obviously "space food." While everyone else has a regular bicycle, Marshall rides a velocipede. He can't play during gym, and he doesn't watch television. Who is this kid? Is he an alien? Is he from another century? What a weirdo.
So when Marshall invites the whole class to his birthday party it's bound to be a terrible time, right?
When Mercer Mayer was a young artist looking for book illustration work, a potential employer suggested he give up and throw away his portfolio. Fortunately for the thousands of children who have enjoyed his many books, he did not give up. Indeed, he went on to create one of the first widely-published wordless books for children, A Boy, A Frog, and a Dog. That book and its successors were hugely popular.
Soon after that, Mayer tackled one of the biggest problems facing young children—how to cope with fears of the unknown. Rather than write pedantic, matter-of-fact, non-fiction children’s books, he turned the process of dealing with those fears into engaging stories from a child’s point of view: There’s a Nightmare in My Closet; There’s an Alligator under My Bed; and There’s Something in My Attic.
Like to see the newest additions to the CRRL collection? How about seeing them right on your phone? Now you can with the CRRL mobile app!
First, you need CRRL's mobile app installed on your phone or tablet. It is available for download from your phone's app store, or you can use your phone's Web browser to go to http://crrl.boopsie.com for the download and more information.
Once the CRRL mobile app is installed, open the app and select "What's New in the Catalog." You have a choice of All, Top Choices, DVDs, Teen and Children's Books. Select one of these, and you'll see what's new this week in the category. Click on a title to put it on hold, right from your phone. Easy!
You can get the same information by email by signing up for Wowbrary's weekly email newsletter.
Don't have a phone? No problem. You can also use our mobile app in a Web browser: http://crrl.boopsie.com/m/
Even Thanksgiving, that most American of holiday’s, is a melting pot of celebrations. Some will eat turkey at grandmother’s house, others fish at a restaurant and some Chinese food ordered in. Some of us will play football, some will watch it on TV and others will head to the movies. No matter how you celebrate, the following titles will bring new and delightful insight to this long-standing tradition.
I remember my first election. I was ten years old and there was a long line, but the reward was an “I Voted” sticker which I proudly wore. The next morning, I eagerly asked who won and was disappointed that it wasn’t my mom’s candidate. That was the first time I ever took an interest in politics and all of these years later, I still remember the experience. When you vote, you have a chance to create similar memories. Take your young person and talk to them about the election process. If you’re not sure what to say, the library offers excellent resources some of which are featured below.
“Today on Election Day” by Catherine Stier captures the excitement of voting from the point of view of several young protagonists. On election day, one child waits to cross the street with construction workers, restaurant servers and a pilot, all of whom are heading to the polls. Another is going with his 18 year old brother to vote in his first election. Yet another joins his grandfather who, in all of his years of voting, has pushed down a lever, punched a card and even marked a paper ballot. Stier successfully relates the voting experience to an early elementary audience. Readers will finish the book with an understanding and sense of pride for our election process.