Christmas is just around the corner, but it isn’t too late to a buy that young reader in your life a good book.
KWiL invited our authors and staff to share what books they will be gifting this holiday season.
Rochelle Groskreutz, Author
Wherever You Go by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2015)
This is one of those books for all ages, and I mean all ages, because of its inspiring message. Its rhythmical, read-aloud quality makes it a perfect lap time book for young children, while its “road of life” words apply to anyone who opens their heart and mind. I was lucky enough to hear it before publication, along with the backstory of author Pat Zietlow Miller’s fearless writing journey at a fall conference presentation. Let’s just say I dampened several Kleenexes, but felt so inspired at the same time.
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016)
I’m a sucker for narrative nonfiction biographies because they motivate children to follow their dreams and make a difference in their own lives. What’s even more compelling about this story of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the first female Supreme Court Justice, is how she did it. She made her mark by disagreeing and going against the grain. It’s a great read for the “disagreeable” youngsters in your life, ages 7 to 10.
Sheri Roloff, Author/Illustrator & VP of Art and Design
The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Adam Rex (Balzer & Bray, 2017)
Usually when I read funny picture books in the store, I let out a soft chuckle, perhaps a subdued nose laugh. But when I read The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors, I laughed out LOUD to the point that I was slightly embarrassed. It was wonderful! Prepare yourself for absurd humor and quirky voice turned up to 11 in all the right ways. I also enjoyed the hilarious characterization Adam Rex brought to the project and thoughtful design (each character has their own well-selected font, which I love). This one is on my Christmas list, and I hope Santa puts it under the tree!
Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Balzer & Bray, 2016)
Pax is a 2016 release, and I heard a lot of hubbub and praise for it before I added it to my collection. With high expectations, I dove in and… finished it in ONE sitting. The story has incredible voice and does a great job seamlessly (and convincingly) alternating between the point of view of the boy and the fox. I also love how the look and feel of the book immediately communicates that it’s something special. Jon Klassen’s ambient illustrations, the well-designed details on each chapter opener, the soft edges of the uneven paper edges – even removing the dust jacket reveals a special surprise – beautifully debossed details and a metallic fox. But most importantly of all, while I was reading I could feel the 10-year-old version of me who fell in love with the likes of “Homeward Bound” fall in love with Pax. Get ready to have every animal-loving heartstring pulled.
Molly Damon, VP of Marketing and Sales
What Do you Do With a Problem by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom (Compendium, Inc., 2016)
I would argue that this book is perfect for the both big and little
people in your life! Yamanda captures a child’s internal struggle with
a problem and the process to confront it and ultimately find beauty
and resilience. Baesom’s illustrations are luminous and with a
limited palate she grows the story into something transformational. I
have a little person who worries A LOT. Let’s be honest – being a kid
some days is just plain tough. Heck — being a living, breathing,
feeling person in 2017 is also super tough. As a parent, this book
beautifully articulated a message that although we may have problems,
if we find our bravery and overcome our struggle something beautiful
may result — mainly that we can do hard things.
The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (Andrew McMeel Publishing, 1988)
It is wonderful rediscovering this beloved comic strip through the
eyes of my 7 year old son– perhaps because Calvin bears an uncanny
resemblance to my own lively widely creative kiddo. Calvin’s
adventures and existential questions as a precocious little boy with his
beloved Hobbes is my favorite go-to holiday gift for new readers. As a
parent I now appreciate the subtlety of Wattersons humor and it is
always fun to introduce my child to new and tricker words with one of
my favorite writers. Bottom line – thirty some years later this
classic still holds up!
Abby Nies Janowiec, President
Uni the Unicorn, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Brigette Barrager (Random House for Young Readers, 2104)
I happen to have not one, but two nieces who are all about unicorns this year. Although my daughter didn’t fall spiraled-cone over tail for this reverse make-believe story (how could any unicorn be so silly as to think little girls are real?), there is magic to be found here, and I gifted it without hesitation, once as an 8.5 x 11 and once as a board book, twice this year. One recipient unwrapped her package, sighed, and announced, in whisper-awe: “A unicorn book…” I feel even more confident in my recommendation because this unicorn book was written by the late Amy Krose Rosenthal, the beloved author of many books for children and adults. In fact, it was when my cousin gifted us the Little Pea series several years ago that we first read a picture book by Amy, and we’ve been reading them again and again ever since.
The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet, by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin (Scholastic, 2017)
For a detailed review and fun facts about the process of making this book, I’d encourage you to read the School Library Journal Review, here.
We picked up our copy at a Scholastic Book Fair at school last spring, and we’ve enjoyed reading it over and over again since. It is a fun read aloud with a subtle but important message, and I was happy to be able to gift it to another niece, one who has grown out of unicorns but still loves picture books, this year.
I’m Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups, by Chris Harris, illustrated by Lane Smith (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2017)
I stumbled across this book on prominent display at Barnes and Noble, and thought, “my daughter would LOVE this.” I bought two copies, one for my daughter and one for yet another niece. I couldn’t hold out until Christmas, and so we opened a present early and my daughter’s nose has been stuck in this book ever since. Undoubtedly this collection is being praised as poetry reminiscent of Silverstein’s. My daughter’s favorite so far: “The Island Where Everyone’s Toby,” “Avacado,” and “I’m Just No Good at Rhyming.” I highly recommend this book!
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson (Viking, 1936)
Finally, if you’re planning on seeing the movie, be sure to read the book first! My kiddos were on the edge of their seats listening to the classic tale, and it was fun to compare the book and movie on our way home from the theater.