New Books Make Great Holiday Gifts: Picture Book Edition

Our theme of new books is timely for the holiday season.  When we were brainstorming for a short list to recommend, it was hard to choose just a handful. So here are some of our favorite authors’ brand new offerings that are topping our gift-giving lists.  We also included photos and links to bios of these amazing children’s book authors and illustrators.

PatriciaNew from Patricia Polacco:

GiftsGifts from the Heart

Gifts from the Heart is a sweet story, without being sappy or saccharine–perfect for the holiday season.  Magic and miracles and the triumph of love are all themes that shine through the Christmas tale.  Kay Lamity is the new housekeeper who comes to care for young Richie and Trisha their last Christmas on Grampa’s farm.   They harden their hearts against her, and treat her as an outsider who can never take their Gramma’s place.  But she teaches them the power of gifts that come from the heart, rather than the pocketbook and win their affection with care, wisdom, and kindness.  Readers come away from the story with the message that a homemade gift, made from the heart, is one that is truly treasured. The lyrical watercolors show Polacco at the peak of her talent.

Jan-Brettfrom Jan Brett:

CinderesCinders: A Chicken Cinderella

All of Jan Brett’s books feature amazing, detailed illustrations, and this new picture book is no exception. Brett’s Cinderella retelling casts a chicken as the heroine, in a kind of fairy tale that takes place during a snowy Russian winter.  The chickens are magnificent (and pretty darn funny) in their fancy ball gowns, and readers will root for poor Cinders, the most picked on chicken in the flock as she wins the heart of Prince Cockerell.  Oh, and Jan Brett  knows her chickens!  She raises show chickens has a flock of over 70!  Look for authentic details in her chicken drawings.

Eric-Carlefrom Eric Carle:


Yes, Eric Carle is still writing and illustrating highly original and gorgeous new books, even in his 9th decade. This new picture book is hot off the presses, just in time for the holiday season.  It’s a whimsical book–kind of dreamy and decidedly different. It’s about the power of childhood friendships, as the young boy seeks out his dear friend after she moves away.  He travels far–finds her, and they even get married!  I predict there will be some controversy about the age of readers this will appeal to.  I love it for the strong paper tissue collage artwork and striking figures–and for the story of enduring friendships.  See what you think!

Jerryfrom Jerry Pinkney:

TortoiseThe Tortoise and the Hare

We always love the stories and illustrations of Caldecott award-winning author Jerry Pinkney.  Just as in  The Lion and the Mouse, Pinkney draws his inspiration once again from Aesop’s Fables, with an innovative setting:  the American Southwest.  The watercolor illustrations are absolutely elegant, with attention to the barnyard,  cacti and mesquite along the race route, and the animals in the town and country the tortoise and hare travel through.  Children will already know the story, told in simple but lyrical text, and will be able to focus on the intricacies and details of the pictures.  Lots of humor mixed in with the beauty, too.  Check out the outfits!  We love Ms. Kangaroo Mouse’s prairie bonnet, Hare’s checkered vest, Coyote’s feathered cap, and of course, Tortoise’s train cap.  Even the endpapers contribute to the story, with an illustration of the  final celebration of Tortoise’s victory.  A wonderful book for all ages.


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