Our recent snow is a reminder that Santa will be coming soon. Books can be just the right gift because they educate and entertain children over and over again.
Here are some suggestions that will make any lucky child happy:
‘The Wall in the Middle of the Book’“The Wall in the Middle of the Book” by Jon Agee is an entertaining picture book with several worthwhile messages. It has large, clear illustrations that will appeal to children. The story seems like a simple one – there is a brick wall in the middle of the book. Literally. The boy thinks it is a good thing because it keeps him safe from unknown dangers on the other side. As it turns out, things are not always what they seem. The story is a pleasure to read aloud and will be a popular bedtime read for many nights for young children.
‘The Royal Rabbits of London’“The Royal Rabbits of London” is a charming chapter book written by Santa Montefiore and Simon Sebag Montefiore. It is beautifully illustrated by Kate Hindley. Poor Shylo Tawny-Tail: He is a weak rabbit, the feeble runt of the litter, and to add even more insult, he must wear a patch over one eye. He is constantly being teased and picked on by his siblings. But Shylo has a secret friend, Horatio. Hidden in a tree in a part of the forest, Horatio shares thrilling stories with Shylo. The Royal Rabbits of London are an elite group charged with protecting the royal family. When Shylo is hiding from his big brother, he overhears a plot to harm the queen. Horatio insists that Shylo go to London and help the Royal Rabbits save the queen. A scared little rabbit then begins the most important quest of his young life. This is a delightful story for a young reader.
‘Captain Superlative’“Captain Superlative” by J.S. Puller is an amazing debut novel. Middle school: Just the words can cause chills to many a young student. Jane, 12 and a seventh-grader, tries to stay invisible. She is not a jock, nerd or popular. One day, the halls of Deerwood Park Middle School are lightened by the appearance of a girl flying down the corridor. Blue wig, mask, swimsuit and tights: It’s Captain Superlative! Her sworn duty as champion of DPMS is to defend honor, justice and the forces of good. The students are speechless and surprisingly, rather than tear this creature apart, they welcome her acts of kindness and her defense of those who need help. She is especially kind to Paige, whose been the target of the school’s unlikely bully for years. Jane is changed by Captain Superlative’s attention and pursues the mystery of just who is this creature and why she is acting this way. This story reveals the truism that things aren’t what they seem and that everyone has secrets, and most importantly, everyone needs kindness. This is a poignant and beautifully crafted story and a must-read.
‘Once a King’“Once A King, Clash of Kingdoms, Book 3” by Erin Summerill is a continuing story about new King Aodren of Malam and a young Channeler, Lirra. A Channeler is always female who only has one magical power, and Lirra’s is wind. For the last 20 years, Malam persecuted Channelers when Aodren’s father sought to wipe them out during The Purge. Aodren is trying to use the every-five-year Summit of Kingdoms as an opportunity to redeem his kingdom’ s standing and encourage his citizens to welcome back Channelers and bring peace to all his people. There are dark forces afoot that want to see him fail. Aodren and Lirra, despite some misunderstandings, must work together to foil the plot. This story is brimming with magic, action and even some romance.
‘Dry’“Dry” by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman could not be a more timely story. Alyssa only has two more weeks of high school left before summer break when her family’s faucets run dry. In Southern California, extreme measures have already been implemented to conserve water, but suddenly the Tap-Off happens. Without warning, all water to residences has been cut off. It’s a disaster, and like most disasters, people behave in radical ways. Alyssa, her parents and her younger brother Garrett are unprepared. Not so her neighbors. Kelton, a fellow student, has a father who is a prepper. They believe they are ready and will weather the crisis. When Alyssa’s parents go to get water from the authorities and don’t return, Alyssa and Kelton embark on a journey for survival. This crisis, not too far from a potential reality, exposes the best and worst of human actions. This is a riveting story with a cast of well-drawn characters.
These books are all available locally at Maria’s Bookshop, and are only a few of the great choices available for young readers of all ages this holiday season.
Leslie Doran is a retired teacher, freelance writer and former New Mexican who claims Durango as her forever home.