Here are my suggestions for best gift books for 2009 - or 2010 - or whenever.
For the baby girls in your life: Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman. The artwork is delectable and the words are so dear. Ahhhhh!
Every one will enjoy the clever artwork and squabble in Duck! Rabbit! by Alison Krouse Rosenthal. Is it a duck or a rabbit? YOU decide.
Yummy : eight favorite fairy tales. by Lucy Cousins introduces 8 familiar stories with Cousins' signature colorful chunky artwork. This book will be a family favorite.
Gear guys will enjoy Otis by Loren Long about a little tractor who gets shunted aside when the new yellow tractor arrives on the farm. But big and new is not always better. The retro drawings are a big part of this book's charm.
Robot Zot by Jon Scieszka and David Shannon is a lot of fun. A small alien robot takes on the electric appliances in a modern home and rescues a toy phone, his Earth Queen. Robot fans of all ages will like Robot Zot
Another "Ahhhh!" book is the lovely and poetic All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Marla Frazee.
Books for Young Readers:
Marissa Moss has introduced the Alien Eraser series, starring Max, a boy who is examining his life as his family rearranges around him. Max draws a comic strip about Alien Eraser and the comic helps Max with his problems. Written with humor and insight for second and thrid graders, this series is thoughtful and visually appealing.
Kit Feeny is a new "graphic novel" (read comic book) series for young readers. Comic books are a great bridge from picture books to longer fiction for a lot of children. Kit's adventures will appeal to boys in First through Third grades. In the first book Kit Feeny : on the move, Kit has to adjust to a new house and a new neighborhood while missing his best friend, Albert. The author of the series is Michael Townsend.
Today I will : a year of quotes, notes and promises to myself by Eileen and Jerry Spinelli is a thoughful gift choice for readers in grades 4 and up. Give it to your favorite grown-up as well. This book dedicates a page to each day of the year. Each page starts with a quote from a book, some are classics, some are current books for children. Then the Spinelli's have a short reflection about the quote that mirrors concerns that most children have. The last thing on each page is a promise or a course of action the reader can take. On January 1, the promise reads "Today I will play no favorites. I will wish the whole world a "Happy New Year"."
Books for Older Readers:
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly is my hands-down choice for girls between the ages of 10 and 13. Set in 1899, Calpurnia learns a lot from her naturalist grandfather and comes face to face with what her life will be like as a woman in turn of the century Texas. The book will make readers laugh and sigh.
Where the Mountains Meet the Moon by Grace Lin. Minli loves her father's stories about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon. Her mother, tired of her hard life, thinks the stories are a waste of time. But Minli leaves home to find out why their valley is so poor and her father's stories are her guides. This fairy tale set in China is full of wonder and hope. Fantasy lovers of all ages will enjoy this book.
Books for Teens:
A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck returns to the Illinois town featured in A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Under. Mrs. Dowdel is still protecting her patch of land with a shotgun, shooting the geese that fly above her garden and cooking huge pots of apple butter out in her yard. She has new neighbors in this story, the new Methodist preacher and his three children, teen-age Phyllis, timid 6th grade Brad and six-year-old, Ruth. Mrs. Dowdel doesn't "Neighbor" and she doesn't "church" but she does give the new family a whole passel of gifts, the kind that stay with them all their lives. Teens should leave this book out where their Moms and Dads can read it.
Leviathan by Scott Westerfield. Steampunk is a new genre where the past is reimagined and technology plays a huge part in the plot. Leviathan re-imagines the beginning of World War I. The murdered Grand Duke and Duchess leave behind a teen-age son, Alek, who, guarded and prodded by his retainers, may be the most important person in all of Europe. They are members of a Clankers society that depends on mechanical engineering to get things done.
Deryn is a teen girl who disguises herself as a boy in order to join the British Air Corps and ends up on the airship/whale, the Leviathan. Britain is a Darwinian society that uses genetically engineered animals to transport them and do their fighting. The teens meet in battle and form an uneasy alliance.
Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede. This is the start of another series and it is another historical/fantasy. Eff is the thirteenth child in a family of fourteen, the seventh daughter, and her twin, Lan is the seventh son of a seventh son. In a society of magic users where numbers have great significance, Eff is reviled and her twin is treated with respect. The twins' parents move the entire family to the Frontier so that the twins will not be poisoned by such outdated and cruel attitudes. There, Lan and Eff learn a lot more about tolerance and their own talents, which are considerable. The story is exciting; the magical constructs are new and refreshing and the interpersonal relationships are well-drawn.
Airhead series by Meg Cabot. (Airhead, Being Nikki) The Queen of ChickLit is back with a science fiction romp. Geek Em Watson is in the wrong place when a huge plasma screen drops on her destroying her body. She wakes up from a coma to find that her brain has been transplanted into the extremely healthy and beautiful body of Super Model, Nikki Howard. This outlandish premise leads to an inside look at the glamorous life of the Rich and Famous and, in the second book, a mystery and a kidnapping. Third book to come in Spring of 2010.
Books make great gifts all year round. Happy Holidays!