Holiday lit guide: Books for children

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There's no more meaningful gift for a child than a book that will be treasured for years. Much like stuffed animals, they become trusted friends, fondly remembered and well-worn but never, ever forgotten.

There are, of course, many classic children's books to choose from. But when it comes to new releases, there are so many published every year that it's hard to choose.

How do you pick just the right book for the special child in your life? You ask the friendly, knowledgeable sales person at your local bookstore.

"Dasher: How A Brave Little Doe Changed Christmas Forever" by Matt Tavares

A fresh, clever telling of how Santa and eight reindeer came into a special partnership. There is an old-school classic feel to the text and the beautiful artwork, rich in colors and detail, helps move the story along. These frame-worthy paintings bring to life a story of how eight reindeer helped Santa save Christmas (and why Dasher comes first in the poem).

— Jeannette, Northshire Bookstore

"Heads and Tails" by John Canty

This delightful picture book starts with a simple description of an animal and a drawing of the animal's tail-end, and the statement "I am a ". You turn the page to see the answer and the rest of the animal. Then there's the next tail and description You quickly discern the pattern but, just as you get into the swing of things, the author throws in a surprise. A very sweet ending rounds out this lovely read-out-loud together book.

— Phil Lewis, Bennington Bookshop

"I Love my Glam-Ma!" by Samantha Berger

"I Love My Glam-Ma!" brought back memories of hanging out in my grandma's kitchen and helping her cook fabulous Italian meals. Many folks have a special name for their grandmas, and Berger begins with this premise. Glam-mas do a wide variety of things to help and entertain their grandchildren, and they do it with a style all their own. They can be cake bakers or fiesta makers, karate choppers or concert rockers. Each one brings a unique pizzazz to their role and this book celebrates that diversity.

— Wendy Marie, Northshire Bookstore

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"Little Muir's Song" by John Muir with Susie Ghahremani

This book, paired with a loving grandparent, makes a warming accompaniment to bedtime for sleepy little nature loves. I also can't help but recommend the book I most remember from my childhood, "I Am A Bunny" by Ole Risom and illustrated by Richard Scarry. No cringeworthy stereotyping. No questionable 'morals.' Just a bunny (wearing clothes) experiencing the four seasons.

— Pat Sheehan, Everyone's Books

"Love and the Rocking Chair" by Diane Dillon

A special tale of enduring love within a family and the fond memories that are shared between those that use the family rocking chair. This heirloom is passed on to new generations, and with it the constant support and love from the family—whether it's reading stories, having rocking chair races, or welcoming a new baby.

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— Wendy Marie, Northshire Bookstore

"The Scarecrow" by Beth Ferry with illustrations from the Fan Brothers

A scarecrow, by nature, is meant to scare...crows. A purposeful but lonely life. When a small crow falls from the nest, Scarecrow rejects his nature and bends down to help. This sweet story about "the oddest friends" reminds us that everyone needs help sometimes and that you can make your own family. Reads like poetry and the illustrations are so moving. Get your tissues ready!

— Maria, Bartleby's Books

"Small in the City" by Sydney Smith

An atmospheric new picture book for young readers between three and seven years, both written beautifully and then illustrated in ink, watercolor, and gouache pictures. The reader follows along with a young narrator through various urban haunts, all while being assured that feelings of being overwhelmed or insignificant in a big world are understandable. There are pockets of beauty and safety to be found and enjoyed, even in a world that stretches out with expansive unknowns and moments of loud drama. This is a visually appealing book that is both cozy and suspenseful at the same time, and ultimately hopeful.

— Ana, Bartleby's Books

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"Sofia Valdez, Future Prez" by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts

Sofia is a young girl who sees a problem and then informs her neighbors. Panic sets in as she realizes she'll have to be the one to approach city hall about fixing the issue. Despite being just a kid, she doesn't back down when confronted with bureaucracy. This one kid will make a difference in her community. I am a champion for Andrea Beaty's books. Beaty has degrees in Biology and Computer Science and her first three books, Iggy Peck Architect, Rosie Revere Engineer, and Ada Twist Scientist are fantastic picture books for your STEM collection. Sofia Valdez also encourages inquiring minds to ask the question...Why? The combination of Beaty's rhyming structure with Robert's retro inspired, heartfelt illustrations are perfection and make these the perfect read-alouds.

— Maria, Bartleby's Books

"Sulwe" by Lupita Nyong'o

Lupita Nyong'o has created a picture book that deals with the issue of loving yourself. Growing up darker than her family, Nyong'o always wanted to change her looks; wanted to be lighter, like her own family and like her character, Sulwe. And while the two took different journeys, the ending is the same. They both came to love who they were: inside and out. With warm and outrageously gorgeous colors, Harrison paints a picture of a young girl who would do anything to be different, but eventually learns to live up to her name, the star.

— Jeannette, Northshire Bookstore

"The Next Great Paulie Fink" by Ali Benjamin

Caitlyn Breen is the new kid at the tiny Mitchell School in rural Vermont. When she enters the classroom on her first day, everyone turns to stare. Caitlyn is not who they were expecting. Where is their classmate, the legendary Paulie Fink?

Over the next few weeks, with no sign of Paulie, Caitlyn sets up a reality competition to identify the next, great Paulie Fink. She creates a series of mischievous challenges for her classmates, based roughly on some of Paulie's exploits from previous years.

This laugh-out-loud novel delves into philosophy and perception as it searches for answers to the age-old questions: Who am I? And what does it mean to belong?

-- Phil Lewis, Bennington Bookshop


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