A sleighful of gift ideas for young book-lovers

Dec 15 2012 - 9:57pm

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Looking for some great books to give as gifts to the children and teens in your life? Here's a look at a few favorites of 2012 for kids and teens, including new books by previous winners of the Caldecott Medal, given annually for the best-illustrated book for children, and the Newbery Medal, given annually for the best-written book for children.

PICTURE BOOKS

 Moose is so excited about being in the class "alphabet" show that he can't wait his turn, as author Kelly Bingham shows in the zany "Z Is For Moose" (HarperCollins, $16.99, ages 3-6). The illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Paul O. Zelinsky add to the hilarity.

Beloved author/artist Tomie dePaola offers a classic Christmas tale filled with lushly colored illustrations in "The Birds of Bethlehem" (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin, $16.99, ages 3-6).

One by one, the animals fall into a hole in the ground. Elephant finally comes to rescue them -- well, all but the hungry tiger -- in the playful "Oh, No!" (Schwartz & Wade/Random House, $17.99, ages 3-6), written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Eric Rohmer.

A fish revels in a stolen hat until his past catches up with him in "This Is Not My Hat" (Candlewick Press, $15.99, ages 4-8), a darkly humorous morality tale written and illustrated by Jon Klassen.

In "Green" (Roaring Brook Press, $16.99, ages 2-5), author/artist Laura Vaccaro Seeger presents a masterpiece of picture-book art spotlighting the many shades of the color green.

Caldecott Medalist Erin Stead has created illustrations for two new books. In "And Then It's Spring" (Roaring Brook Press, $16.99, ages 3-6), Stead joins with author Julie Fogliano in an ode to patience and hope as a young gardener watches his world turn from brown to green.

Stead's other new book, "Bear Has a Story to Tell," was written by her husband, Philip Stead. In "Bear Has a Story to Tell" (Roaring Brook Press, $16.99, ages 3-6), the Steads tell a lyrical tale of a storytelling bear searching for an audience.

When Isabel and her family move to the United States, she misses her native Mexico. But she's also excited to experience new things like snow, as author Sarah Stewart shows in "The Quiet Place" (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, $17.99, ages 4-8). Caldecott Medalist David Small's illustrations further expand the emotions of this epistolary tale.

Author/illustrator Mo Willems has produced two picture-book gems this year: "Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs" (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins $17.99, ages 4-8), a fractured version of the popular fairy tale; and "The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?" (Hyperion, $15.99, ages 2-5), the latest in the adventures of the mischievous Pigeon.

BEGINNING READERS

Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo and author Allison McGhee, joined by illustrator Tony Fucille, detail the adventures of two unusual friends in "Bink & Gollie: Two for One" (Candlewick Press, $15.99, ages 4-7).

The incomparable Kevin Henkes, who has won both a Caldecott Medal and a Newbery Honor (a runner-up citation), now turns his hand to beginning readers with a new series starring a mouse named Penny. Look for "Penny & Her Song" and "Penny & Her Doll" (Greenwillow/HarperCollins, $12.99 each, ages 4-7).

Author/illustrator Mo Willems presents the latest in his "Elephant & Piggie" series with "Let's Go for a Drive!" (Hyperion, $8.99, ages 4-7).

The TOON books offer a different twist on beginning readers. With these graphic novels, kids can understand the story by "reading" the illustrations, while the text provides extra information. Look for these new TOON books, which cost $12.95 each: "Zig and Wikki in 'The Cow'" by Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler (ages 5-8), "Chick & Chickie Play All Day" by Claude Ponti (ages 4-7) and "The Shark King" by R. Kikuo Johnson (ages 5-8).

FICTION

Author K.A. Applegate tells the tale of a gorilla whose friendship with a young elephant inspires him to find a better life for both of them in the deeply moving "The One and Only Ivan" (HarperCollins, $16.99, ages 8-12).

Fairy tales are really meant for older readers, as author Adam Gidwitz shows in his darkly hilarious novel, "In a Glass Grimmly" (Dutton, $16.99, ages 8-12).

Author R.J. Palacio shows what happens when August, a 10-year-old boy who was born with a deformed face, goes to "regular" school for the first time in "Wonder" (Knopf, $15.99, ages 9-12).

Terry Pratchett reworks -- and adds a twist to -- Charles Dickens' classic in "Dodger" (HarperCollins, $17.99, ages 10-14). Readers will enjoy plunging into Victorian London with Pratchett as their guide.

For a great World War II novel spotlighting the true-life efforts of brave Norwegians to sabotage German bomb-making attempts, check out "Shadow on the Mountain" (Amulet, $16.95, ages 10-14) by Margie Preus.

A crazed puppeteer, two orphans, a rich girl who's kidnapped: These are the disparate elements that Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz pulls together in her page-turner novel, "Splendors & Glooms" (Candlewick Press, $17.99, ages 8-12).

The unusual spelling of Georges' name makes him bully bait in his middle school, but that's the least of his worries as Newbery Medalist Rebecca Stead details in "Liar & Spy" (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House, $15.99, ages 9-12).

NONFICTION

Author Marc Aronson provides a provocative look at both the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover and how history is written in "Master of Deceit" (Candlewick Press, $25.99, ages 12 up).

In "Moonbird" (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, $21.99, ages 12 up), author Phillip Hoose profiles both the unusual rufa red knot and those who study the bird.

We already know how it turned out, but author Steve Sheinkin still manages to keep readers on the edge of their seats in "Bomb: The Race to Build -- and Steal -- the World's Most Dangerous Weapon" (Macmillan, $19.99, ages 10-14).

Two new picture-book biographies celebrate the creativity and joie de vivre of Julia Child: "Bon Appetit," (Schwartz & Wade/Random House, $17.99, ages 7-12), written and illustrated by Jessie Hartland; and "Minette's Feast" (Abrams, $16.95, ages 7-10), written by Susan Reich and illustrated by Amy Bates.

For parents: Anita Silvey offers the stories behind the stories in her wonderful "Children's Book-A-Day Almanac" (Roaring Brook, $19.99). For even more stories, look for the website connected to the book.

GRAPHIC NOVELS

Zita the Spacegirl has become famous, but she finds that fame can exact a heavy price in "Legends of Zita the Spacegirl" (First Second/Roaring Brook Press, $12.99, ages 8-12), the second "Zita" book by author/illustrator Ben Hatke.

In "Little White Duck" (Graphic Universe, $9.95, ages 9 up), author Na Liu engagingly writes of her life growing up in China. The illustrations by Andres Vera Martinez further bring her Chinese childhood to life.

Author/illustrator George O'Connor continues his dramatic look at Greek mythological heroes in "Hades: Lord of the Dead" (First Second/Roaring Brook Press, $16.99, ages 8-12).

Callie's crazy about the theater and loves her job as manager of her middle-school musical. But she's also crazy in love with someone who may -- or may not -- return her affections, as author/illustrator Raina Telgemeier shows in her engaging graphic novel, "Drama" (Scholastic, $10.99, ages 10-14).

TEEN FICTION

"Bitterblue" (Dial, $19.99, ages 12 up) is the can't-put-down conclusion to author Kristin Cashore's trilogy of fantasy novels that includes "Graceling" and "Fire."

It's become a runaway hit, one of the best books of the year for both teens and adults. It's "The Fault in Our Stars" (Dutton, $17.99, ages 12 up), prize-winning author John Green's unforgettable tale of two teens with cancer.

Even teens who aren't into dragons will find themselves swept up in author Rachel Hartman's riveting fantasy novel, "Seraphina" (Random House, $17.99, ages 12 up).

Two-time Newbery Medalist Lois Lowry concludes the story begun in "The Giver" with her riveting novel, "Son" (Houghton Mifflin, $17.99, ages 10 up).

Author Elizabeth Wein offers a World War II historical novel, mystery and gut-wrenching story in "Code Name Verity" (Hyperion, $16.99, ages 14 up).

Karen MacPherson, the children's/teen librarian at the Takoma Park, Md., Library, can be reached at Kam.Macpherson@gmail.com.

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