Turn Santa’s sleigh into a bookmobile

Kids’ books prove there’s no age limit on the gift of literacy

The Quilt Walk Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press

The Quilt Walk

Now that we finally have some snow, Santa can make his holiday deliveries in style with his sleigh full of presents. Books make great gifts for youngsters, whether they are readers or listeners. Here are a few books from the last year that will bring hours of fun to any child.

The Quilt Walk: This is Sandra Dallas’ first book for young readers. This wonderful chapter book for 8- to 12-year-olds tells the saga of Emmy Blue and her family’s adventure of moving from their home in Illinois to Golden in 1864. Emmy’s dad has decided to uproot the family not in search of gold but of the riches earned from “mining the miners.” Amid family good-byes, the small family departs to the West by wagon train, and the adventures begin.

Emmy is not the typical girl of the age. She hates to sew, but as a parting gift, her grandmother gives her fabric pieces meant to be made into a quilt. As the long road west unrolls, Emmy turns to stitching together the fabric into squares as she walks along with the wagon day after day. Inspired by the true story of a family similar to Emmy’s and a quilt in the collection of the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden known as The Quilt That Walked to Golden, The Quilt Walk is well-researched and well-written with great attention to period details.

Missing On Superstition Mountain, Book One: By Elise Broach, this is another chapter book for 8- to 12-year-old readers filled with suspense and adventure. It is summer, and the Barker boys are recent transplants to Arizona. They are not used to such a rural existence, and they are bored. They live close to Superstition Mountain, which turns out to be the subject of many scary local legends. The boys know none of these tales the day their beloved cat Josie runs away to the mountain. Ignoring their parents’ rules, they take off after Josie and discover a terrible sight. Henry discovers three skulls on a ledge, and the boys run back home. But because they disobeyed their parents, they cannot tell anyone about their discovery. What follows is a saga of good intentions gone bad. This book is part of a series that will attract many readers, especially young boys.

Ten Tiny Toes: This is a delightful picture book for toddlers. It is written by Todd Tarpley and illustrated by Marc Brown. Using gouache, cut paper and colored pencil, Brown’s lively art complements the rhyming narrative of Tarpley’s ode to the toes of beloved babies and children. This is Tarpley’s second children’s book, and Brown is the creator of the popular Arthur Adventure book series that inspired the PBS children’s show “Arthur.” Snap this up for your favorite tot.

Skippyjon Jones Cirque De Olé: Judy Schachner’s book is the latest in her popular series that feature a Siamese cat that thinks he is a Chihuahua. After scaring his mom, Junebug Jones, with a high wire act, Skippyjon is sent to his room where he transports himself to the Cirque De Olé. Skippyjon and his Chimichango gang of “fellow” Chihuahuas invade the circus to perform a risky acrobatic act in front of an enthusiastic audience.

Using Spanish, Schachner infuses this latest adventure with a European flair. The narrative might be difficult for some parents to read if they are unfamiliar with the language, but taken in context, most words can be translated. For fans of the series, this will be a welcome addition to their library.

Too Tall Houses: Gianna Marino’s book is a beautifully illustrated story about the ups and downs of friendship and NIMBY-ism. The artwork is executed in wonderful detail, enhancing the story of Rabbit and Owl. These friends are neighbors who live on a hill. Rabbit has a garden to grow his own food and lives in a house of soil. Owl’s house is made from twigs, and while Rabbit tends his garden, Owl treasures his view of the forest. Trouble starts when Rabbit’s growing garden blocks Owl’s scenery. Owl builds up his house to recapture his view and then blocks the sun from Rabbit’s garden. The race is on for the tallest house. Marino’s writing is spare, descriptive and fun. It is an easy read for parents, and children will be charmed by this modern fable and will want to hear it over and over.

These books are only a few of the great choices available for children and their parents this holiday. Books educate, enhance creativity and lead children to create new worlds using their imaginations. Share this wealth with a child this holiday season and give the gift of a book.

sierrapoco@yahoo.com. Freelance reviewer Leslie Doran is a former teacher and grandmother of six.

Missing on Superstition Mountain Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Henry Holt & Co.

Missing on Superstition Mountain

Ten Tiny Toes Enlarge photo

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Ten Tiny Toes

Skippyjon Jones: Cirque de Olé Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Judy Schachner and Cozy Toes Design Studio

Skippyjon Jones: Cirque de Olé

Too Tall Houses Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Viking Juvenile

Too Tall Houses