Orange Marmalade: 2018 Little Literary Holiday Gift Guide

All year long I make it my aim to introduce books to Orange Marmalade readers,
any one of which would make a great holiday gift 🙂


For this year’s holiday list, I’m highlighting:
Something Old — a vintage or classic title;
Something New — a sparkler published this year;
Something True — a juicy non-fiction title

I’ve also included magazine subscription ideas for each age group,
a dandy gift that brings fresh waves of happiness all year long!

Plus: a few literature-inspired cookbooks.
Pick one and give a corresponding book for an exciting, double-dipper gift!


I recommend purchasing books from your local, independent bookstores.
They are the ones we book-lovers want to support!!
But if you’re going to purchase from Amazon, clicking on one of my links gives me a small dab back, and I thank you.

Board Books

Something Old

all fall down
All Fall Down
I’ve raved about Helen Oxenbury’s board book series before, and here I am again.  Oversized, super short, visually-splendid, multicultural faces. Baby and toddler magic.

Something New

toesy toes
Toesy Toes
Celebrate the squidgy delights of toes with this photo-survey of little piggies. Babies love looking at babies so these photographs of a delightful array of tiny humans are sure to please.

Something True

find colors
Find Colors
One of the most talked-about board books of the year. This ingenious concept invites children to spy out colors through die-cut shapes. Watch the Vimeo trailer to see how it works, then prepare for many merry outings snooping around for colors!

Ages 2-5

Something Old

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You seriously cannot miss with this beloved gem by Shirley Hughes. Kindness and affection in a book. I could never begin to count how many times we read this story.

Something New

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Winter Is Here
Henkes and Dronzek make picture book magic again and again for the very young. Their lovely books heralding the seasons are all a joy. This frosty beauty is clearly created by folks who know and love winter well.

Something True

The Honeybee
Honeybees are a tiny, vital miracle, accessible for most children to observe, and important for us all to protect. The text and illustrations in this book are magnificent, the tone joyous. Such a pleasing blend of fact and artistry.

Magazine subscription ideas for this age group:

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I adore this top-notch, high quality magazine, bursting with creativity, imagination and fun.

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Full of juicy stories and poems, beautiful illustrations and charm, from the Cricket group, especially for preschoolers.  Love these magazines!

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Highlights High Five
The folks at Highlights publish this spin-off, especially designed for under-Fives.

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Ranger Rick Jr.
This venerable nature magazine also has a version especially for younger siblings.

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National Geographic Little Kids

Likewise, National Geographic Kids has an alternative for the littlest explorers.

Ages 5-8

Something Old

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With the death of Ursula le Guin this past year, it seems timely to introduce young readers to her beloved fantasy series about a family of winged cats. This is the first episode. Small books, just right for sturdy new readers or for reading aloud.

Something New

peter and ernesto cover image
Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths
I love this gently humorous, eminently friendly story of two sloths, Peter and Ernesto, loyal buddies, yet different as night and day. This delightful graphic novel follows their divergent adventures and steadfast friendship.

Something True

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Everything & Everywhere
This spectacular book reads like a kaleidoscope of colorful tidbits from cool cities and fascinating places around the globe. Pore over the details, dream of far-flung adventures, and get inspired for keeping your own travel sketchbook!

Magazine subscription ideas for this age group:

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Here’s the choice for older-siblings from the folks at Dot Magazine. Oodles of creative content. Just an outstanding production.

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Highlights for Children

How many of us grew up reading Highlights magazine?! I did. My kids did. The Highlights crew certainly know the recipe!


Here’s a new magazine as of 2017 that looks gorgeous. Its goal is to celebrate brave women and each issue centers around one role model, with illustrated stories, DIY projects, and educational activities. There are only a few issues available, and each one seems to sell out fast. Check out their beautiful site to learn more or buy individual issues.

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Ranger Rick

These guys have been in publication since 1967!! A fabulous, nature-rich magazine, fueling important respect, knowledge, and love for the environment.

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Spider is like a literary treasure chest from the Cricket group tailor-made for this age group. These are fantastic magazines. Every issue is a treat.

Ages 8-12

Something Old

gone away lake
Gone-Away Lake
Runner-up for the Newbery in 1957, this classic summer adventure story co-stars a boy-girl pair of cousins and their discovery of two wonderfully off-the-grid characters living amid some glorious, abandoned houses beside a slightly sinister bog. A timeless favorite for independent readers or as a family read-aloud.

Something New

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The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge
A fantastically-splendid fantasy peopled with treacherous elves and good-hearted goblins, this account is told through prose, wordless illustration segments, and letters. One of my top favorite middle-grade reads of the year, this title will appear on my “Kids Books for Grown-Ups” list as well. Read my full review here.

Something True

Curiosity cover image
Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover
Merging fascinating information about the Mars Rover, Curiosity, with stylish illustration and its own, fetching narrator’s voice, this book brilliantly engages readers in the exotic world of space exploration.

Magazine subscription ideas for this age group:


Kazoo launched in 2016 and wow! it looks a treat. Aimed at girls, ages 5-12, their website says: All of our stories are either developed or inspired by top female artists, explorers, scientists, chefs, athletes, activists, writers and others. Regular features include: science experiments; comics; art projects; recipes; interviews with inspiring women from Olympic athletes to astronauts; and fun activities, like secret codes, jokes, mazes, search-and-finds and more.


Subtitled “a magazine for creative kids & their grown ups” Illustoria looks so intriguing, I think I’d buy it just for myself! Launched in 2016 as well, their aim is to “celebrate visual storytelling, makers and DIY culture through stories, art, comics, interviews, crafts and activities. Our high-quality, tri-annual publication is geared toward readers ages 6–12 and the young at heart.” Click through to their website to see the stunning issues they’ve already created.

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One of the finest literary magazines for children, Cricket has been around since 1973. My children loved these beautiful, fascinating, lively magazines. For avid readers, it’s a splendid choice.

The Cricket media group produces a large number of special-focus magazines as well, and you can find them all at this link. A couple of examples:

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Dig Into History

Dig explores all matters archaeological and historical. What a unique offering for curious kids!


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Faces explores the world’s cultures, a wonderful way to introduce kids — and yourselves! — to the richness of the peoples sharing Planet Earth.

Delicious Literary-themed Cookbooks!

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The Little Library Cookbook
Over 100 recipes from a wide span of literature. Get sticky with Paddington Bear’s marmalade, or chow down on clam chowder from Moby Dick.

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A Literary Tea Party
Feast on Turkish Delight while sipping on the White Witch’s Hot Chocolate from The Chronicles of Narnia, sip Drink Me Tea with the Queen of Hearts’s Painted Rose Cupcakes from Alice in Wonderland, celebrate with Eeyore’s “Hipy Bthuthday” Cake with Hundred Acre Hot Chocolate from Winnie the Pooh, regale your bffs with  Jo’s Gingerbread from Little Women…and much more.

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The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook
From Diana’s Raspberry Cordial to Poetical Egg Salad Sandwiches and Marilla’s Plum Pudding with Caramel Pudding Sauce (without the mouse!), the recipes included here are mentioned throughout the books in the Anne of Green Gables series, along with recipes from L.M. Montgomery’s own kitchen.

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The Redwall Cookbook
Ever read a Redwall novel and wonder exactly what Abbot’s Special Abbey Trifle is? Or how to make Shrimp ’N Hotroot Soup, that delicacy of otters everywhere?  From the simple refreshment of Summer Strawberry Fizz to Great Hall Gooseberry Fool, they’re all here, illustrated in full color. A fan favorite.

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An Unexpected Cookbook
This lovingly researched book of Hobbit cookery takes pity on a Hobbit’s penchant for six meals a day, if he can get ’em. Based on historic recipes revised to fit Tolkien’s specific vision of the Shire, you’ll find plenty here for second breakfasts, elevensies, and meals fit for the Prancing Pony.

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The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook
But of course. Leave your Muggleness behind and whip up some treacle tarts, butter beer, and Mrs. Weasley’s famous meat pies. No wands required.

Find all of this year’s earlier gift lists, and lists for the past eight years, chock full of imaginative, creative, active, and bookish suggestions for juicy lives! Just click on the Gifts tab at the top of the blog.

I’ll be back on Friday (I hope!) with one more list — kids books that would make great gifts for grown-ups!