If you missed it, The Baltimore Sun ran an article in the A&E section last Sunday by Paula Willey, a librarian at the Parkville branch of the Baltimore County Public Library. The article was titled, “Great books a great gift idea for kids.” Paula Willey writes about Children’s and teen literature for various national publications and online. Here are some of the books she featured:
A boy shipwrecked on the crossing from Europe to America shares the latkes his mother packed for him with a polar bear in Eric Kimmel’s “Simon and the Bear.” In exchange, the bear keeps him warm and catches fish for him as he sings songs and tells her the Hanukkah story. (Disney-Hyperion, $16.99).
Travel with Clara and her Nutcracker Prince to the Land of Sweets in an exquisite new edition of “The Nutcracker” illustrated by Niroot Puttapipat. Luscious watercolors set off Puttapipat’s signature super-detailed silhouettes, giving the book the look of an intricately crafted stage set. Spellbinding language makes this a marvelous Christmas read-aloud. (Candlewick Press, $19.99)
A more contemporary Christmas story is told in Yasmeen Ismail’s “Christmas for Greta and Gracie.” Bossy big sister Greta has lots to say as she and Gracie prepare for the holiday. But the little sister finds that it’s good to be quiet, too, as she creeps downstairs on Christmas Eve and meets the man of the hour himself. Ismail’s loose, bright watercolors capture the clutter and excitement of the holiday season. (Nosy Crow, $15.99).
A small boy explores his neighborhood in the snow, his brown face peeking from a bright-red hood. Seems like a simple idea for a picture book, right? But at the time of its publication, books for kids did not typically feature African-American children. “A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day” by Andrea Davis Pinkney uses sparkling verse and cheerful collage illustrations to celebrate the man who brought Peter to life. (Viking Books for Young Readers, $18.99)
Mother Goose rhymes: They’re weirder than you may remember, but full of funny animals and silly wordplay just the same. Give a new parent the fine 20th-anniversary edition of “My Very First Mother Goose,” edited by Iona Opie and profusely illustrated with winsome bunnies and geese by Rosemary Wells, and they may gain new respect for their baby’s burbling nonsense. (Candlewick, $22.99)
After all the presents have been unwrapped and put away, what’s left to play with? The boxes! “Box” by Min Flyte, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw, uses flaps and foldouts to deliver surprises and ideas for imaginative play. It’s a train! A theater! A castle! And, like a cardboard box, this book is sturdy enough for little hands. (Nosy Crow, $15.99)
Here’s an all-ages showstopper that kids will come back to again and again: “Megalopolis: And the Visitor from Outer Space” by Clea Dieudonne. The story of an alien visitor to a fabulous city is revealed vertically — the pages unfold outward, extending 10 feet! Tiny details and recurring characters encourage readers to concoct their own stories about the city’s unique inhabitants. (Thames & Hudson, $24.95)
Fantasy and gaming fans will enjoy “Dungeonology” by Matt Forbeck. The latest in the Ologies series introduces readers to the races and realms of Dungeons and Dragons by means of snarky commentary, intriguing foldouts and pop-ups, and classic fantasy illustration. My kids have been playing D&D for years, and you can bet this is going under our tree. (Candlewick, $24.99)
Two little boys take “A Walk on the Wild Side” and meet animals both wild and tame all around the world. Author Louis Thomas delivers facts about 65 species in a cheerful, conversational tone, and his colorful watercolor illustrations are a little kooky and a lot of fun. (Francis Lincoln Children’s Books, $19.99)
Did you know that the latest class of NASA astronaut trainees is half female? Celebrate the science girl (or boy) on your list with “Destination: Space” by Christoph Englert and Tom Clohosy Cole. This oversized treasure uses cartoony illustrations in dramatic colors to explain astronomical phenomena. (Quarto, $22.99)
So, happy reading, and happy holidays!