Orange Marmalade, Christmastime, and Books-for-Giving

Black Friday is coming…oh, dear…not being much of a shopper under the best of circumstances, I stay well away from the feeding frenzy on that particular day of the year!  But…if you love the sales, hey, I hope you have a great time!

We started a tradition quite a few years ago now of giving our kids just a couple of gifts at Christmas:  two books, and a Christmas tree ornament.  Simple.  I enjoy hunting on-line for hard-t0-find gems at bargain prices to add to their collections  — I’ve collected Shirley Hughes’ Lucy and Tom books for one child;  John Goodall’s Paddy Pork books are not often in my price range but I look for those; The Brambly Hedge stories have all been collected for my middle daughter.   The Swallows and Amazons series.  The Narnia books.  Treasure Island and The Secret Garden.  All have found their way under the tree from year to year. 

I thought I’d give a tiny few suggestions for those of you who might be shopping for books for gift-giving — perhaps for your own child or grandchild or niece or nephew;  perhaps for a new mom with limited means, or a child you’ve come to know through a tutoring program; perhaps in lieu of giving to your own kids, you give gifts in their name to a Ronald MacDonald house or a Prison Fellowship Angel Tree family.  Whatever the case, spreading good children’s literature is a mighty good idea!

While it is nigh-unto-impossible for me to pick just a couple of titles in each of these categories, here are a few absolute favorites:

Under One:  Books that Taste as Good as They Look

Farm Animals, by Phoebe Dunn — Chubby size for pudgy baby hands; Lovely photos of familiar farm animals in real outdoor settings rather than against sterile white backgrounds; Accordian binding for longer wear, although my kids ate/looked/gummed their way through a couple of these over the years.  My very favorite  board book for babies. 

Tickle, Tickle, by Helen Oxenbury — Large format (8×8) for a lovely visual treat; Oxenbury’s plump, adorable, multi-cultural babies; Extremely minimal text ending with a nice gentle tickle for baby’s tummy. Just right. 

One and Two Year Olds:  Books for Wiggleworms

  We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Helen Oxenbury — I’ve reviewed this one on my blog.  One of the best books ever for this age group. 

 The Story of Miss Moppet, by Beatrix Potter — Most people mistakenly start with Peter Rabbit, which has wonderful, toothsome words for slightly older kids.  Start the wee ones on their  love for Potter’s tales with this, shortest of all her stories.  My son first sat still (!) for this book after watching our own cat catch a mouse. 

 Two to Five:  Books That Tell A Good Story

Alfie Gives a Hand, by Shirley Hughes — Quintessential Hughes; Alfie’s first, nerve-wracking birthday party. Shy little Min. Alfie’s tenderhearted heroics… It doesn’t get any better.

 Goldilocks and the Three Bears, by James Marshall — This is a great age for kids to learn the classic nursery tales and fairy tales.  Once they’ve met Goldilocks in the traditional format, they’ll love Marshall’s rollicking rendition. 

Five to Eight:  Books To Capture an Imagination

Mr. Popper’s Penguins, by Richard Atwater and Florence Atwater — Penguins in the icebox; penguins on the stage;  this tale of an off-beat housepainter’s dreams of Antarctica makes a perfect read-aloud for growing attention spans.

The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo — subtitled:  Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread, DiCamillo’s Newbury Medal winner is a great read.

Eight to Twelve: Books to Stretch an Imagination

Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome — someday this series will make my blog; one of our family’s all-time favorites, set in the English Lake District in the 1920s, featuring five very adventurous kids and their two sailboats — the Swallow and the Amazon.

John Diamond, Leon Garfield — Dickensian characters, setting and plot, masterful writing, great suspense!

Happy Thanksgiving!