Great books make great holiday gifts
Share the joy of reading with your loved ones
No room for commentary today — just great books to borrow from the library or buy as a gift for the special child in your life. For additional suggestions, visit this column's companion website, Greatest Books for Kids at greatestbooksforkids.com.
Books to Borrow
The following book is available at many public libraries.
"Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree" written and illustrated by Robert Barry, Doubleday, 32 pages
Read aloud: age 2 — 3 and older
Read yourself: age 7 — 8 and older
Mr. Willowby was a wealthy man. When his Christmas tree arrived, he had the deliveryman place the tree in its pot in the parlor. It was the biggest tree Mr. Willowby had ever seen, but it was too big for the largest room in his house.
Mr. Willowby had his butler chop off the top of the tree so that it would stand upright. The butler felt it would be a waste to throw the tree top away. So he presented it to Miss Adelaide, the upstairs maid. Delighted, she went immediately to place her Christmas tree in her favorite spot. But again, the tree was too tall — so, like Mr. Willowby, she chopped the top off.
On and on the scenario continued. The tree, too tall for each successive owner, gets pruned from the top, until at last, even a wee mouse has shared Mr. Willowby's beautiful Christmas tree with his tiny family.
Written in rhyme, this fun Christmas story carries a happy message about the joy of sharing.
Library: Sutter County Library, 750 Forbes Ave., Yuba City
Library Director: Roxanna Parker
Children's Librarian: Chalese Valdez
Choices this week: "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein; "Stellaluna" by Janell Cannon; "The Tale of Despereaux" by Kate DiCamillo
Books to Buy
The following books are available at your favorite bookstores.
"Gifts From the Gods: Ancient Words & Wisdom from Greek and Roman Mythology" by Lise Lunge-Larsen, illustrated by Gareth Hinds, Houghton Mifflin, 2011, 90 pages, $18.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 7 and older
Read yourself: age 9 — 10 and older
Greek and Roman myths, though thousands of years old, provide insight and wisdom to our lives today. This fresh retelling of 17 myths, all fully illustrated, is a treasure chest of powerful stories that have been told and retold many, many times over.
Because these stories have captured people's imagination for so long, their names have survived as words we use today. As an added bonus, a description of our modern English word and its derivation from the retold myth precedes each story.
Certain to entertain readers of many ages, "Gifts From the Gods" is a superb offering.
"Wonkenstein: The Creature From My Closet" written and illustrated by Obert Skye, Henry Holt, 2011, 226 pages, $12.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 9 and older
Read yourself: age 9 — 10 and older
Rob didn't care much for reading. Nor did he care much for cleaning out his closet. One day, something miraculous (and very weird) appeared out of his messy closet in the form of a small man in an odd outfit and sporting a top hat.
The little man seemed to be a strange combination of two characters from books Rob had heard about but hadn't read. Rob named the thing from his closet Wonkenstein, and the persistent little guy just wouldn't go away.
Who would have thought that Wonkenstein would change Rob's attitude about reading, libraries and a whole bunch of other stuff? Not Rob, but that's what happened.
Hilarious in every way and boasting equally hilarious illustrations, this fun book is perfect for both kids who like to read and for those who might not yet be on board with that idea: This book might just convince them.
"The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes" by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein, illustrated by Mark Pett, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2011, $14.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 4 and older
Read yourself: age 7 — 8
Nine-year-old Beatrice has never, ever made one mistake. But one day, Beatrice almost made a mistake, and this rattled her to her core. Then, before the school talent show, Beatrice worried she might make a real mistake in front of everyone. What would happen if she did?
A charming story that assures young readers that it's OK to make mistakes — that everybody does, and it's OK to be yourself and not strive to be perfect. This choice is particularly good for kids who think otherwise.
Kendal A. Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature. She can be reached at her website: greatestbooksforkids.com.