Category Archives: Holiday books

GEARPICKS Holiday Book Gifting 2020 Part 2 – Book Gifting for Tweens

Last week, I posted PART 1 of my Holiday Book Gifting ideas, focusing on books for your younger readers. You can read the post HERE. This week, I am excited to share my picks for gifting those tweens in your life! I’ve tried to include books for all interests and hoping one will be a perfect match for that reader in your family!

For the Sci-Fi Fan

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Bloom by Kenneth Oppel

Kids ages ten and up will get sucked into this unputdownable science-fiction novel about a strange rain that causes alien plants to sprout. The plants climb up buildings, destroy crops, and devour animals and people. Only three teens are immune to the mysterious plants, and nobody knows why. This action-packed book is the first in an exciting new series that will keep kids up all night.

For Your Imaginative Animal Lover 

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The Elephant’s Girl by Celesta Rimington

Kids that like animal stories will likely get lost in this magical book. Lexington can speak telepathically to elephants, and they can speak to her. When the elephant Nyah sends her a mysterious message, Lex gets caught up in a spooky and magical adventure that may provide answers about her past.

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Skunk and Badger Amy Timberlake

Skunk and Badger join a list of literary “odd couples” in children’s literature, much like Frog and Toad or Elephant and Piggie. If you’re looking for an early middle-grade book to read with the kids, this is a great one. Reminiscent of the 100 Acre Wood and Wind in the Willows, and filled with quirky, memorable animal characters, this friendship story has both humour and thoughtful themes. Jon Klassen’s illustrations add to the fun.

For your Budding Environmentalist

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Music for Tigers Michelle Kadarusman

A coming-of-age story set in the dense rainforest of Tasmania. This book explores so many different themes – family, legacy, friendship, animal extinction, autism, and environmental conservation. Louisa is sent to spend some time at her Uncle Ruff’s bush camp in Tasmania when she would much rather practicing her violin for her big audition. While at the camp she meets her great-grandmother, through her journals, a new friend in Colin, and a once thought extinct Tasmanian tiger named Ellie. Ah-Mazing! Love this book and love that it incorporates Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

For your Historical Fiction Fan

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The Blackbird Girls – Anne Blankman

This is a moving story about two girls whose friendship develops during the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Told in alternating perspectives and different periods in history, this story shows that hatred, intolerance, and oppression are no match to the power of friendship. Fascinating and innovative.

Folklore and Fairy Tale Fans

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When You Trap A Tiger – Tae Keller

Know someone that likes family legends, folklore, and fairy tales? If so, you’ll definitely want to add this middle grade novel to your shopping list. Filled with magical realism, a magical tiger, Korean folklore, challenges and deals and family ties, this novel is about finding the courage to speak up.

Humour

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Wink – Rob Harrell

Ross Maloy just wants to be a normal seventh grader but with his recent diagnosis of a rare eye cancer, blending in is not an option. Based on author Rob Harrell’s real life experience, this book is packed with comic panels and incredibly personal and poignant moments. It is an unforgettable, heartbreaking, hilarious, and uplifting story of survival and finding the music, magic, and laughter in life’s weirdness.

For Fans of Realistic Fiction

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The List of Things That Will Not Change – Rebecca Stead

Rebecca Stead is known for her realistic middle grade stories and her latest book is amazing. Bea is thrilled that her Dad is going to marry his boyfriend and that she’ll finally get a sister. As the wedding draws closer, Bea learns that nothing is simple when you’re forming a new family.

For Your Adventurer

The Last Kids on Earth: June's Wild Flight by Max Brallier

The Last Kids on Earth: June’s Wild Flight – Max Brallier

It’s not hard to see why The Last Kids on Earth series is such a popular series. These action-packed books are full of monsters and adventure with black and white illustrations splashed across every page. The series has even been adapted into a Netflix show. This book, featuring June, is set between the events of The Midnight Blade and the upcoming sixth book in the series.

Fans of Survival Stories

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Red Fox Road – Frances Greenslade

A thirteen-year-old girl on a family vacation becomes stranded alone in the wilderness when the family’s GPS leads them astray. A compelling survival story for ages 10 to 14, for fans of Hatchet and The Skeleton Tree. Exquisite sensory detail!

For Graphic Novel Fans

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Doodleville – Chad Sell

Calling all artists! This magical graphic novel is for readers with a big imagination and a love of art from the creator of Cardboard Kingdom. It’s a funny, imaginative world called Doodleville created inside main character Drew’s sketchbook. The only problem is that her doodles don’t stay in the sketchbook, including a not-so-friendly monster named Levi. Full of friendship, humor, and fun, this graphic novel will be a big hit!

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Nat Enough – Maria Scrivan

Delightful graphic novel about navigating friendships in middle grades – making friends and losing them.
This is a great graphic novel for middle grade readers. It not only teaches kids what real friendship looks like, but it also teaches them to focus on who they are instead of who they aren’t. This is the first book in the Nat Enough series, but the second book in this series has just been releasedForget Me Nat

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When Stars Are Scattered – Victoria Jamison

Based on the real-life experiences of Omar Mohamed, this heartbreaking yet hopeful graphic novel gives readers insight into the life of a refugee. When Omar gets the opportunity to go to school, he is excited. He knows an education could enable him and his younger brother to get out of the refugee camp where they’ve spent most of their lives. But going to school also means leaving his brother behind to fend for himself every day. This book is a perfect example of how graphic novels can introduce important and timely issues that will resonate with readers. EXCELLENT!

For Hockey Fans

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Hockey Super Six on Thin Ice – Kevin Sylvester

Lots to love about this series! It’s not only about a group of six friends who love to play hockey, but also an evil genius, some mutant squids who form an opposing team, and a magical blue light that gives everyone some unexpected skills on the ice. It’s funny, entertaining, and also focuses on the importance of teamwork.

Thanks for stopping by! I do hope you found 1 or 2 titles that you can gift to the tween in your life.

Wishing you and your family a very happy holiday and well deserved break. Enjoy this time to recharge, reflect, and read-read-read!!!

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Animals, Art, Diversity, Fairy Tales, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Holiday books, Literature Circles, Middle Grade Novels, Novels, Refugee, Sci-Fi, social justice

GEARPICKS Holiday Book Gifting 2020 Part 1 – Toddlers, Beginning and Early Readers, and a little Festive Fun!

Give Books

Stuck trying to think of something to buy that baby, toddler, or young reader in your life? Why not gift them with some BOOK JOY????   Welcome to the 2020 edition of my Holiday Book Gifting post!   I hope you find one or two books to gift to a special reader in your life this holiday season!  (Book Gifting for Tweens coming out soon!)

Happy reading and gifting everyone!

For Toddlers

The Babies and Kitties Book – John Schindell

Anyone who is looking for a board book to give to a new baby – this is it!  ADORABLE photographs and rhyming text celebrates all the ways babies and kittens are alike.  Off the chart on the cuteness scale.   This is the follow up to The Babies and Doggies Book (which I had never heard of but it’s beyond cute as well!)

No More Naps  – Chris Grabenstein

Look at this cover!!! Can you stand it?  How can you not make connections to that face?  With  just a few words and simple drawings, this story captures the emotional highs and lows of a toddler, as well as the poor folks having to deal with them.  LOVE this one!

Delightful Picture Books

The Box Turtle – Vanessa Roeder

Terrance the turtle is born without a shell so his parents strap on a box.  All is well until the other turtles tease him and Terrance begins a search for a new shell.  Another off the chart on the cuteness scale but also a lovely message about being yourself and loving who you are.  Not preachy – just sweet.

Find Fergus – Mike Boldt

Hilarious story of a bear who is VERY bad at hiding.  This one will have you and your kids laughing out loud!

The Barnabus Project – The Fan Brothers

One of my favorite picture books of 2020, The Barnabus Project is a stunning story both visually and emotionally.  Barnabus is half elephant and half mouse (think Island of Misfit Toys in Rudolph) so is banned to the basement of the Perfect Pet Shop with the other “Failed Projects”.  Love this story.  Hug this story.  Share this story.  

Polar Bear in the Snow – Mac Barnett

So, so clever! A perfect combination of words and illustration pulls the reader in and makes them pause at each spread.  Simplicity, beauty, and wonder – this is picture book perfection!  LOVE!

The Snow Fox – Rosemary Shojaie

A charming story about cherishing old friends and making new ones that takes readers quietly through the four seasons.  Gentle and calm and with beautiful illustrations.  This is a cozy-curl-up-and-read-together kind of book!

The Grinny Granny Donkey – Craig Smith

Another sequel to the wildly popular, viral sensation “Wonky Donkey” series.  This one is about Grandma Donkey and, like the others, is filled with cute, tongue tied rhythms.  Lots of fun!

Grumpy Monkey Up All Night – Suzanne Long

Love this new edition to the Grumpy Monkey series.  This one will have you laughing at Monkey who is determined to stay up all night!

Attack of the Underwear Dragon – Scott Rothman

This is a fun, rhyming tale of a young boy who loves the Knights of the Round Table and dreams of one day joining their ranks as an assistant Knight.  Perfect for anyone who loves Knights, dragons and underwear!

Not Me – Elise Gravel

“Who’s responsible for this mess?”…”Not me!”  Hilarious book all parents will relate to!  The “Not Me” monster comes to life in Canadian author Elise Gravel’s new book.  Available in French.

New for Beginning Readers

Cat Kid Comic Club: From the Creator of Dog Man by [Dav Pilkey]

Cat Comic Club – Dav Pilkey

Dav Pilkey is back with a new graphic novel series about a cat who starts a comic writing club.  Such a great book for inspiring creativity!  Why not gift your budding cartoonist with this book and a blank comic book (see below) so they, too, can draw comics like Cat!

Blank Comic Book for Kids

A perfect gift for your budding cartoonist.  An entire book filled with blank comic book frames and empty speech bubbles!  LOVE this for home but a great one for having on hand at school!

The Bad Guys in THE ONE?! – Aaron Blabey

For the BAD GUY fans in your family, here is the latest in the series.  Soon to be a major motion picture!

Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure  – Jeff Kinney

For Wimpy Kid fans, here is a new series by Jeff Kinney.  This one is filled with adventure, fantasy, quests and LOTS of LOL moments.

Fun Facts

The Book of Mythical Beasts and Magical Creatures – DK Publishing

Calling all Unicorn and Dragon lovers!  This one is packed full of “facts” about all the mythical creatures you can imagine.  Beautiful illustrations

400 Minecraft Tricks – Jimmy Wong

This book would likely not appear on any of my GEARPICKS recommended lists – but for the obsessed Minecraft player in your house, this one might be a big hit!

Two Truths and a Lie – It’s Alive – Ammi-Joan Paquette

Perfect family fun for the holidays.  This book is jam-packed with stories that are too crazy to be true and asks readers to separate the facts from the fakes! Also available in a Histories and Mysteries edition.

For the Family Foodie

MasterChef Junior Cookbook – Christina Tos

A perfect book for the budding foodie in your family.  Filled with great recipes, tips and tricks, nutrition, and amazing photographs.  Yum!

A Little Festive Fun

Would You Rather? – Christmas Edition

Great stocking stuffer and perfect for engaging the whole family with hilarious festive “would you rather” scenarios. Perfect for sitting around the table between courses!

I Spy Christmas Book

For a little quiet time or lap snuggling, this book is perfect for toddlers who might need a little calm as they search for hidden Christmasy things!

Jack and Santa – Mac Barnett

Mac Barnett is such a clever writer and his Jack series is just hilarious for beginning readers.  Here is the latest that has Jack worried when he finds himself on the Naughty List.  Great twist at the end!

Happy Narwhalidays – Ben Clanton

I adore Narwhal and Jelly stories – simple graphic novel format for your beginning reader.  This one is filled with more delightful and funny adventures wrapped in Christmas cheer.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s 8 Nights of Chanukah – Eric Carle

Beloved author Eric Carle brings everyone’s favorite little caterpillar along to introduce the littlest readers to Hanukkah in this colorful counting book.  This simple board book takes readers through the 8 nights of Hanukkah and the wonderful traditions and symbols of the Festival of Lights.

The Joyful Book – Todd Parr

Todd Parr never disappoints and his delightful new book looks at all the simple things that brings us joy.  Signature illustrations – his books always make me feel good when I read them!

Mistletoe by Tad Hills

Mistletoe: A Christmas Story – Tad Hills

Such a sweet story about a mouse who loves to play in the snow and an elephant who prefers to stay inside.  A gentle, funny (the last page is HILARIOUS!) story about friendship and gift giving, just right for the Christmas season.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you were able to find a special book for that special someone!

Stay tuned for Book Gifting Part 2 for your Middle Grade Readers – coming out soon!

Happy Reading and Holiday Gifting, everyone! 

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Christmas, Holiday books, New Books, Picture Book, Winter Books

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 New Holiday Books for Sharing and Gifting!

top 10

With school wrapping up so early this year, it feels as if there has been hardly any time to share some of my favorite new holiday books with my students.  But books are always the best gifts to buy, so if you aren’t able to share these with your students this year, perhaps you will find a special gift for a special someone on this list!

Here are my top ten holiday books for 2016…

1.The Day Santa Stopped Believing In Harold – Maureen Fergus

Hilarious, tongue-in-cheek twist on the age-old question “Is there really a Santa Claus?” Big belly laughs with this one!  Bright, colorful illustrations, welcome inclusion of a multiracial family and a great ending.  (Caution: A child who believes in Santa likely won’t appreciate the humour, and I wouldn’t want to introduce doubt where there is none)

2. Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree – Lori Nichols

Sister bonding, a snowy expedition and problem-solving – all wrapped up in a delightful story that captures the snowy season.  Delightful illustrations.

3. The Lost Gift: A Christmas Story – by Kallie George

I kind of adore this book – it is so sweet and bursting with personality and kindness.  Four animal friends discover one of Santa’s gifts has fallen out of Santa’s sleigh.  But what to do with it is the question.  This book is a great one for predicting and also for prompting a  “What would you do?” conversation!

4. The Christmas Fox – Anik McGrory

Oh my, but this is a charming, heart-felt and tender story. A simple, subtle rendition of the nativity story and a sweet little fox who joins the other animals in the stable. I am in love with this adorable fox who shares meaning of Christmas through his joyful spirit.

5. Walking in a Winter Wonderland – Peggy Lee

The classic holiday song is brought to life with joyful, bright illustrations  by Tim Hopgood, complete with snowmen, sleigh bells, and dreaming by the fire.   Great large sized book is perfect for sharing!

6. The Christmas Eve Tree – Delia Huddy

A deeply moving story about a homeless boy who rescues a spindly tree, sparking hope and magic.  This story is unexpected, beautiful and one that must be shared.  Have your Kleenex handy.

7. The Great Spruce – John Duvall

Intergenerational story about a boy and his grandfather who come up with a plan to save their favorite tree after some men from the city want to cut it down and use it for the town Christmas celebration.

   8. The Wish Tree – Kyo Maclear

Despite his brother and sister’s disbelief, a little boy sets off to find a “Wish Tree” with his friend “Boggan” – his little red toboggan.  This is a perfect seasonal tale that mixes adventure, magic, and friendship with dreamy illustrations.

                                                 9..  Santa’s Underwear – Marty Rhodes Figley

It’s Christmas Eve and Santa cannot find his underwear!  This is a hilarious story with hilarious illustations.  I love the “romp” Santa takes through other holidays (Vanentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.)  as he searches for his Christmas undies!  LOL!

            

       The Snowy Day – Ezra Jack Keats                    A Poem for Peter – Andrea Davis Pinkney

The iconic book The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats was first released in 1962 and still remains one of “go to” books for winter reading.  This year, Andrea Davis Pinkney gives us the story behind this story in the gorgeous book A Poem for Peter.  What a great “pair” to be shared with students, children or grandchildren.

10   The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present – Harriet Muncaster

Thumbelina meets ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas!  When I was very young, I loved reading books with miniature characters and this  story would definitely have made my list of all-time favorites!  Delightful and determined Clementine is a teeny-tiny girl who lives with a regular sized family.  She is trying to let Santa know that she is very small and that the toys he leaves are always too large for her.  Sweet story, darling heroine – LOVE!

             And there are my top 10 (plus 2!) new holiday books for sharing and gifting!

                   Thanks for stopping by… which book has caught your eye?

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Filed under 2016 releases, Christmas, Holiday books, Homelessness, New Books, Picture Book, Top 10 Tuesday

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? New Picture Books for the 2015 Holiday Season

IMWAYR

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Well it’s that time of year when I share some new festive, winter books that are released in time for the holidays.  (Read my 3 part- blog post where I shared my favorite holiday classics here, here, and here if you would like to see more!)

Adorable book companion to the Toys Go Out series.  Lumphy, StingRay, and Plastic’s adventure in the snow.  Love these characters – such personality with great dialogue.  Gorgeous illustrations.
When Santa Was a Baby – Linda Bailey
Adorable! Beautiful vintage style illustrations and snappy, funny dialogue.  A great read-aloud and perfect for making connections!
Snow – Sam Usher
The awe, wonder and magic of a snow day, complete with animals in the zoo and toys that come to life.  Lovely child-grandparent relationship.
Rachel Rosenstein is a young girl who loves everything about Christmas- but her family doesn’t celebrate because she is Jewish. Perfect connections for those children whose familes celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas and a lovely introduction to other cultures.
Another great book celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas.  Beautiful illustrations.
How to Catch Santa– Jean Reagan
Two sibling narrators give clever instructions and tips for “catching” Santa (be crafty! be clever! be gentle!) on Christmas Eve.  Delightful, excited “how to” voice, lovely illustrations, wonderful humor.  Love this one!
Canadian twist on “Jingle Bells” is a great companion to the popular Porcupine in a Pine Tree.   A perfect song to sing at your next Christmas concert!
Follow Juliette and her cousin as they collect Canadian gifts, including 6 Mounties marching and a loon in a maple tree, all the way from PEI to Vancouver.
Holiday addition to the popular Click Clack series.  Simple structure, repetition – great read-aloud!
Thanks for stopping by!  Which new holiday books will you be reading this season?

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Filed under 2015 releases, Holiday books, New Books