Some Stocking Stuffer Suggestions

-posted by Meghan

Christmas is my favorite holiday.  I’m not religious, and we stopped getting presents for anyone in the family but the kids, so it’s neither God nor gifts that makes this holiday special for me.  It’s the family time and the traditions.  And for me, traditions don’t really change too much (we make new ones, but we don’t do too much to altering the existing ones), so the books that I wrote about a couple of years ago as being our favorite Christmas reads are still the same, and I anticipate (perhaps foolishly or at least overly optimistically) reading them as a family for the next few decades.  So this year I thought I’d make a list of the top 5 books that I’m giving as gifts this year for each age group…

Picture Books

1. Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr Seuss – This is actual Dr. Seuss stories (not posthumo imitations) that were previously only published in magazines.  Fun for adults and kids alike, as the editor traces the history of these stories and expounds a bit on the origins of the style the themes we think of as Seussical.

2. Bumble-ardy by Maurice Sendak – The first book Sendak has both written and illustrated in 30 years.  Enough said.

3. A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead – This year’s Caldecott winner is a perfect gift for anyone who doesn’t yet own this beautiful new classic.

4. The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle – This charming book encourages artists everywhere to look beyond the ordinary.  And also reminds us to follow our dreams.  (And if you think the artist is Carle – I did – you’re wrong.  It’s Franz Marc, whose work was banned by the NAzi’s in Carle’s youth and inspired his own career. Another books that is as perfect for adults as for children.)

5.  The Amazing Adventures of Bumblebee Boy by Jacky Davis, illustrated by David Soman – Knowing that Bumblebee Boy got to star in his own book was enough to make this a must have in our house.  We LOVE Bumblebee Boy.

Early Readers & Tweens

1. Wonderstruck by Brian Selznik – I loved Hugo Cabret (the book) and can’t wait to see the movie.  So I’m definitely giving and reading his new book…

2. Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George – If you hadn’t noticed, everyone in our family is a big fairy tale fan (like Cinderella).  So anything new by a like-minded author makes our reading and gifting list.

3. Treasury of Greek Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli – If anyone on your holiday list has already devoured the latest Percy Jackson and has a dog-eared copy of the D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, this stunning and informative new collection is a must have.

4. Neville by Norton Juster – This Christmas seems to have a plethora of fabulous new books from favorite authors.  This new and beautiful read aloud from the author of The Phantom Tollbooth makes for a great family gift!

5. Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein – I mentioned that old favorites have new books right?  Like this new instant classic from Shel Silverstein?

Teens

1.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – I was lucky enough to have a friend in the publishing industry sneak me an advance copy of this book last year.  I have been waiting for this book to come out so I could browbeat all my friends into reading it to have someone to talk to about it… and now it’s finally here and I can just buy it for everyone for the holidays!

2.  The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan – PERCY.  JACKSON.  IS. BACK.  I could only be more excited if this were a new Harry Potter or Katniss book.  (Or actually, now, Karou, but more about her later…)  If they don’t have the first book, the two together makes a lovely gift bundle!

3. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – This is the series that introduces the world to the wild, beautiful and mysterious Karou.  I don’t want to say any more than read it.  And feel confident that if you give it to someone who loves to read, they will thank you.  Repeatedly.  This might be my new favorite series since The Hunger Games.

4. Wildwood by Colin Meloy – This debut by the lead singer of the Decemberists reminds me the most of The Wizard of Oz, and is a great family read aloud.

5.  Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool – While I find that Pulitzer and National Book Award winners are very hit and miss, I usually love Newbery and Caldecott award winners.   This years winner of the Newbery Award is no exception.

Adults

1. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – So, the diehard geek in your life probably already has this, but just in case they don’t, they will appreciate it.  And for the rest of us, it’s a well-written examination of a fascinating life.

2. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes – I have yet to read this, but it’s on my list for me, and I have heard over and over that this is a short book that makes you think, making it perfect for those on your list who don’t have a lot of time to read.

3. A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor – This book is a great gift for pretty much everyone on your list!  Examining the history of the world through a selection of objects appeals to non-fiction fans, short story buffs, and those who just love a great story.  It’s beautiful to boot!

4. V is for Vengence by Sue Grafton – If you have a mystery lover on your gift list, they will love V, the 22nd book in the series.  If you have someone who just loves great books, but isn’t necessarily a mystery fan, introduce them to Kinsey Milhone with the first book in the series, A is for Alibi.

5. IQ84 by Haruki Murakami – I think I know more people who would list Murakami as their favorite author than any other writer, living or dead.  Isn’t that amazing?  And this new book weighs in at almost 1000 pages, so it should keep the recipient busy for a long time!

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