Revisiting some of the books that wowed me during this holidays season and could make great gifts. Some have been in print for several years, but books don’t get old, do they?
Zen Shorts by Jon Muth. I assume everyone knows about it, since it is an award-winning best-seller and was published in 2005. If not, you’re missing on a jewel: timeless tidbits of wisdom for big and small ones, gorgeous illustrations and soulful prose as we follow the adventures of Stillwater, the giant Panda, and his three friends.
Three French Hens by Margie Palatini. Frenchies Colette, Poulette and Fifi accidentally find themselves in the Bronx, New York, in Mr. Fox apartment. The story is hilarious, filled with French accent and a kindness that will have your heart melt like a grilled marshmallow.
Wabi Sabi, by Mark Reibstein, is about a cat’s journey through Japan and his quest to grasp the meaning of his name –Wabi Sabi. The illustrations are exquisite (no surprise here: it’s Ed Young!). Fourteen Japanese haiku conclude the story.
Skippyjon Jones Lost in Spice by Judy Schachner. The Spanish-speaking Siamese kitten is back, or rather gone to Mars in this new humorous adventure. He has a webisode, too.
Middle Grade and Young Adult
This Book Is Not Good For You, by Pseudonymous Bosch, is one of those hard-to-put-down materials. We’re taken on journey to Ivory Coast, Africa, on a chocolate trail spiced with adventures and fun illustrations. For 9 to 12. 🙂
Wild Girl, by Patricia Reilly Giff. Twelve-year-old Lidie lived happily in Brazil, where she enjoyed horse riding. When the story starts, she learns that she has to move to Queens, New York, to be with her father, who happens to train racehorses. It’s a story about the struggles of growing up, adjusting to new environments, and animal cruelty. I fell in love with this book within the first pages.
Century Quartet #1: Ring of Fire by Italian author P. D. Baccalario, translated by Leah D. Janeczko. I discovered the book recently (so many books, so little time), which is a fun read for the “clue hunter” in all readers. The story takes place in Italy and will grab the attention of the legend/astronomy/traveler lover. Four twelve-year-old teenagers are forced to share a room: Harvey is from New York, Mistral from Paris, Sheng from Shanghai and Elettra, Italian, is the daughter of the hotel’s owner… The ending leaves you craving for more.
For All Ages
I could not end the list without mentioning the two following books:
A Shadow Falls, by photographer Nick Brandt. To borrow the words of my bookseller, it’s “Ansel Adams meets East African wildlife.” The photographs are stunning.
Everything I Know I Learned From A Children’s Book, is a collection of essays, excerpts and illustrations from our favorite children’s books, that will speak to both the writer and non-writer. Inspiration and motivation are some of the topics explored. It wonderfully came to life thanks to award-winning editor Anita Silvey.
Obviously there are many extraordinary books that did not make it in this list, and I wish I could add them all. What are you reading this holiday season?