This is the season for giving, especially for children, and especially since it is 2020. Here are some suggestions that are sure to entertain and educate.
‘The Box Turtle’“The Box Turtle,” by Vanessa Roeder, is a delightful picture book for little listeners. Terrance is a little box turtle who was born without a shell. His parents are loving and understanding and quickly come up with an unorthodox solution. All goes well until some other turtles make fun of Terrance. Upset, he throws away his makeshift shell and goes searching for a better replacement. Along the way, he learns about true friendship. This is an entertaining and thoughtful tale that teaches about outward differences and acceptance.
‘Crow & Snow’“Crow & Snow” is written by Robert Broder and illustrated by Oliver Tallec. This sweet picture book is a perfect read-aloud for toddlers and beginning readers. In the middle of a field, a farmer places a scarecrow to keep his crops safe. The Crow is lonely and wonders why the farmer doesn’t stop working to visit him. Then during winter, the farmer’s children come out and make a snowman right next to Crow. Now, Crow has a friend. But come the spring, Snow leaves. This routine repeats for years. As time goes by, the author reveals a big truth about friendship. The message is enduring and the illustrations are lovely.
‘The Silver Arrow’“The Silver Arrow,” by Lev Grossman, is an amazing chapter book for middle grade readers. The moody and mystical ink and wash drawings are by Tracy Nishimura Bishop. This magical tale features a steam locomotive that is gifted to 11-year-old Kate on her birthday by her Uncle Herbert. This writer knows a lot about this special engine, making this book especially appropriate as a gift for Durango readers. Kate is bored and is hoping for an adventure for her birthday and boy, does her uncle really deliver. Her parents are horrified by the 1-to-1 scale locomotive plopped in their backyard. Kate and her younger brother, Tom, jump aboard and are whisked away on an otherworldly and magical journey. Along the way, Kate and Tom meet a true menagerie of wild animals from around the world. In addition to learning fascinating facts about these animals, readers are treated to a incredible experience as they join Kate and Tom aboard The Silver Arrow.
‘Alice’s Farm: A Rabbit’s Tale’Another book perfect for middle readers is “Alice’s Farm: A Rabbit’s Tale,” by Maryrose Wood. The charming and heartwarming book tells the story of Alice, a young, cottontail bunny and her burrow full of rabbits, who do the unthinkable – they decide to help a family of novice farmers grow vegetables, instead of stealing them to eat. The Harvey family, mom, dad, baby Marie and 10-year-old Carl have escaped from Brooklyn to the country to make a new life. Unfortunately, a developer wants to take over the farm to tear it down for development. This would destroy the rabbits’ home, too. This is the beginning of a great adventure, a kind of David versus Goliath tale. This book is engaging where the talking animals share some astute observations of life.
‘Elatsoe’“Elatsoe,” by Darcie Little Badger, is a mystical, fantasy debut novel for teens. Ellie is 17, a Lipan Apache from Texas. Her full name, Elatsoe, is the word for hummingbird. She lives in a world that seems like the real world, but hers is populated with the paranormal – vampires, ghosts, monsters and other beings. Ellie carries on a family tradition with her ability to bring dead animals and other nonhumans back from the underworld as ghosts. Her constant companion is her deceased dog, Kirby. She is an only child and is very close to her parents and her best friend Jay. Ellie’s story begins with the tragic death of her cousin Trevor, who was a teacher and a new father. His spirit appears to Ellie begging her to find who murdered him and to protect his wife and son. Thus begins a quest that brings Ellie, her mother, Jay and Kirby into a bizarre, murderous realm where death and the underworld vie for their lives. This book will appeal to both boys and girls and especially those who have a fascination with graphic comics or novels.
These are just a few great choices for presents for youngsters this year. Don’t forget “50 Adventures in the 50 States,” by Kate Siber, which was reviewed earlier this year. Happy holidays and happy reading.
Leslie Doran is a retired teacher, freelance writer and former New Mexican who claims Durango as her forever home.