November 30, 2017

Great gift books for kids, 2017 edition

Each December, the staff who work with children's books here at NoveList each try to choose just one book that they believe would be a perfect present. Here are our picks out of the ones we read (or rediscovered) this year. They range from books for toddlers to teens and appeal to all kinds of readers. Your child's new favorite may be on this list. It's our gift to you.

For tender-hearted kids, grades PreK-3:

Oskar and the Eight Blessings by Richard Simon; illustrated by Mark Siegel
Contributed by Lisa Chandek-Stark
In this lyrical picture book, the main character’s eyes steal you away.  Oskar, a young Jewish immigrant, arrives in New York City, where his parents know he will be safer after Kristallnacht.  He arrives on the seventh night of Hanukkah, alone, cold, and with few instructions on how to find his Aunt Esther. The titular blessings sustain him -- a small loaf of bread, a free comic book, some mittens, a whistled tune, and more -- all the way across Manhattan until he finds his family. While there certainly is an emphasis on Hanukkah, this book will touch readers of any faith.  

For nature lovers, budding architects or kids who dream of changing the world, Grades K-3:

The Shape of the World: a Portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright by K. L. Going; illustrated by Lauren Stringer
Contributed by Jennie Minor

Anyone looking for a children’s book that celebrates the impact creativity can have on the world need look no further. This picture book biography tells the story of Frank Lloyd Wright, whose childhood fascinations and passions led to his illustrious career as an architect. As a young boy, Frank created elaborate designs with wooden blocks that his mother gave to him. Later, Frank worked on his Uncle’s farm and spent time pondering the geometric shapes that were present throughout nature. Going’s text is poetic, yet child-friendly, and Stringer’s illustrations include geometric shapes, curved lines, and earth tones, characteristic elements of Wright’s architecture. 

For kids who know they're awesome (or those who need a reminder), Grades K-3: 

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes; illustrated by Gordon C. James
Contributed by Rebecca Honeycutt
A young black boy goes to the barbershop: it's a straightforward story, but through Derrick Barnes’s lyrical, read-aloud-ready prose and Gordon C. James’s lush, outsized illustrations, young readers experience how a fresh cut can make you feel "Magnificent. Flawless. Like royalty." Whether they view it as a cultural touchstone or simply a celebration of their own awesomeness, Crown's joyful swagger will leave kids -- especially black and brown boys -- feeling proud and treasured.  

For kids who like to move, Grades 2-6: 

Let's Clap, Jump, Sing, and Shout; Dance, Spin, and Turn it Out!: Games, Songs, and Stories from an African American Childhood by Pat McKissack; Illustrated by J. Brian Pinkney
Contributed by Autumn Winters
When my 2nd grade teacher's assistant, Mrs. Annie Reece, unleashed the Down in the Valley jump rope rhyme on the playground, we all resolved to do nothing but jump rope for the next six months. Do kids still play like that? They ought to! Get the kids in your life started off right with Pat McKissack's well-researched and authoritative collection of hand games, jump rope rhymes, and circle games. Brian Pinkney's illustrations vibrate with irresistible energy and motion. Plus, these games, rhymes, and stories offer an upbeat introduction to African American history and culture. It's a winner, no matter how you slice it, dice it, and RED HOT PEPPER it.   

For kids who enjoy safely creepy picture books, Grades 3-5: 

The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Gris Grimley
Contributed by Suzanne Temple
Imagine my glee upon reading this book that contrasts the security of the alphabet with the danger of dark humor! Two children and their pet gazelle go off in search of treasure in the bowels of a city. They encounter many unsavory characters and situations, and some of the words reflect that (“E is for the Evil that lures and entices; F is for Fear and its many devices”). The detailed and finely-drawn illustrations are shaded in brown, evoking a sense of bleakness, yet the pithy rhyming couplets please the ear, brightening the tone. Gaiman takes liberties with alphabetical order that older kids will enjoy. 

For kids who are old souls, Grades 4 and up: 

The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain and Philip Stead; illustrated by Erin Steady
Contributed by Lindsey Dunn
Kids young and old who still think tales are best heard read aloud will resonate with The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, a story which seamlessly blends an unfinished draft by Mark Twain with words and pictures provided by married couple, Philip and Erin Stead. Simple but kind Johnny lives a bleak life on a farm with a cold grandfather and a chicken as his only friend. Instructions from grandfather to sell the chicken for some food kick of a series of adventures that will change Johnny's life. Part fantasy, part tall tale, part morality play, the narrator's witty, wise voice creates an intimate, cozy feel that is perfect for bedtime or rainy day sharing. 

For teens who believe in magic, Grades 7-9: 

Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Contributed by Halle Eisenman
Sisters Scarlet and Donatella (Tella) Dragna are invited to attend Caraval -- an enchanting and mysterious multiday event that is a circus-party-treasure hunt hybrid. Their father has forbidden them from attending, but Donatella disobeys and convinces Scarlet to do the same. Once there, they immediately become part of a sinister magical game as Tella is kidnapped, and it is revealed that the goal of the treasure hunt is to find her. Twists and turns abound as nothing is as it seems, and no one can be trusted at Caraval.  

Happy gifting!

Lindsey Dunn is a Readers' Advisory Librarian at NoveList. She's a kidlit expert and creates resources for all the librarians out there grappling with keeping up with what books kids are reading. Want to hear more from her? Sign up for Lindsey's Book Squad email updates. 

Add Comment

Other EBSCO Sites +