Gift Books 2013 – twelve picture books to give this season

gift Books 2013

I spent close to three hours at my favourite bookstore yesterday – Vancouver Kidsbooks selecting books for a donor that wants to gift our primary students with new books to take home this holiday season. Books in hand and in home make so much difference! While my Teacher Librarian and I shopped, we were privy to many conversations between customers and the very knowledgable Kidsbooks staff. And it got me to thinking . . . Which 2013 picture books would I recommend for a gift list?

Of course, there are many amazing titles to choose from. I narrowed it to twelve. Twelve books I think are absolutely worth owning and therefore, worth gifting. My criteria? Is it a book that can be shared multiple times? Does it inspire creativity, thinking, inspiration? Does it make the readers think differently about something? Does it celebrate something important? Is it a book that brings joy? With those questions in mind, here is my list:

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

This is a fascinating biography that not only makes math seem absolutely engrossing but gives us a glimpse into a mind that was truly one track. A beautiful balance between the mathematical life and the other life of Paul Erdos.

Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

On A Beam of Light- A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

A wonderfully accessible biography of Albert Einstein. This title has all the perfect themes of wonder, curiosity and thinking outside of the box.

Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

The Man with the Violin written by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Dušan Petričić 

This is an important story of what we miss by not being in the moment. How many beautiful experiences are lost on us as we rush through our days? Based on a true event where famous musician Joshua Bell played in the metro and was basically ignored. My students shared reviews here.

Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

The Matchbox Diary  by Paul Fleischman illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline 

History, stories and memories told through unveiling of various contents of a number of matchboxes. Perfect to inspire storytelling between the generations.

The Matchbox diary Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

Peace by Wendy Anderson Halperin

Full of quotes to read, share and ponder. Love the message that peace needs to be everywhere (in our hearts, homes, schools, countries . . .) in order to impact peace everywhere else.

Peace Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animals’ Lives  written by Lola Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Gorgeous. Want to reveal how math is all around us? This is the book to do it. There is counting and estimating and wondering and a whole bunch of other mathematical applications – in addition to being a beautifully illustrated books with lots of fascinating animal facts.

Lifetime Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

The Snatchabook written by Helen Docherty and illustrated by Thomas Docherty

Know a family with a new baby? Give them this beautiful book which sends the message loud and clear – we all need to be raised with daily read aloud moments.

The Snatchabook Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

Once Upon a Northern Night written by Jean E. Pendziwol and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Lyrical, soothing and visually beautiful. Let the text lull you to sleep with dreams of the magic and quiet of winter. A perfect book to celebrate this coldest of seasons.

Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

Journey by Aaron Becker

Grab your imagination and enter a magical world where anything might happen. A wordless treasure.

Journey  Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

Papa’s Mechanical Fish written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Papa models the curiosity and persistence of an inventor. This book is “almost true” based on the life of Lodner Phillips who really did build The Whitefish, an actual functioning submarine.

Papa's Mechanical Fish Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

Count the Monkeys written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Kevin Cornell

Because we all need to laugh together! Interactive. Will make you want to leap out of your chair in delight! Giggle, giggle, giggle.

Count the monkeys Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

My First Day by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Children love to hear about what it was like when they were a baby. This nonfiction title reveals what the first moments are like for different animals. So much to discuss.

My first day Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

Books are gifts to treasure! This season give books!

Monday August 5th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

IMWAYR

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult reads!

I had an amazing week for picture books. Amazing. I am pretty sure I met some of the picture books that will make my favourites of the year list.

Here are the books I’ve been raving about this week:

Building our House by Jonathan Bean This book had special meaning for me because a few years ago we renovated our house. By we, I mean our contractors, but we spent many days wandering around the construction site that once was and would again be, our home. We climbed up ladders and visualized stairs and walls and rooms and life. I love how the illustrations in this book document a story as much as the text does. And the author’s note in the back with photographs of Jonathan Bean’s own history of a childhood spent amongst foundation and fields and beams made this story all the more special. Head over to Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast to see more:  sketches, storyboards and photographs. Amazing!

Building our House #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Papa’s Mechanical Fish written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov I saw the cover of this book and had to have it. I loved what it hinted at: creativity, focus, absurdity, inventiveness . . . I was not disappointed. The language is fun. The entire family is involved and Papa models the curiousity and persistence of an inventor. This book is “almost true” based on the life of Lodner Phillips who really did build The Whitefish, an actual functioning submarine.

Papa's Mechanical Fish #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Once Upon a Northern Night written by Jean E. Pendziwol and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault One of the most beautiful books I have read in a long time. Lyrical, soothing and visually beautiful. Let the text lull you to sleep with dreams of the magic and quiet of winter. Arsenault’s illustrations are exquisite.

Once upon a northern night #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Mighty Lalouche written by Matthew Olshan and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. I found this story absolutely delightful! The illustrations are stunning and add much to an already engaging story. The messages here are important: perseverance, being true to yourself, finding happiness . . . But there are also levels to this story that are just going to engage children in the joy and humour of boxing adventures and the triumph of the underdog. I cannot wait to read this aloud to my class!

The Mighty Lalouche #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Mama, is it Summer Yet? by Nikki McClure A simple but gorgeous story about the waiting for summer through the seasons. Celebrates the joy of outdoors, the changing seasons and the wonder of nature.

Mama, Is it Summer yet? #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco There is so much I love about this story. I love that Grandpa is actively involved (leading in fact) the adventure of racing over fields and country roads in search of a bee tree. I love the spirit of community. And of course, that it ends with a message about the wonder of books and reading . . . Well! 🙂

The Bee Tree #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman  A story of friendship, of adventure and of bravery. My favourite page is snail looking over the page and down, down, down . . . just before he considers leaping. It’s really a fantastic reminder that courage is not in the doing but in the moments of contemplation leading up to the decision.

 The Story of Fish and Snail #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah Ohora So many books try to capture the essence of the preschool age child and they don’t come close to doing any justice. They have too much sweet. Or too much whiny. Or precociousness that isn’t cute. Only some nail the tantrum and the moments leading up to it with any sort of sense of realism. This book is divine. It really reveals what it is like to be a small being and have to navigate the world while attempting to contain emotional highs and lows. Absolutely adorable. I think this might be my new “must have it” gift for new parents. Captures the preschool mind, heart and will beautifully.

 No Fits, Nilson! #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Some nonfiction titles I loved:

The Boy who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham Wow. This is a fascinating biography that not only makes math seem absolutely engrossing but gives us a glimpse into a mind that was truly one track. A beautiful balance between the mathematical life and the other life of Paul Erdos. Accessible and intriguing for younger readers/listeners. A definite book to be explored multiple times.

The Boy who loved math #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Healthy Kids (A Global Fund for Children book) by Maya Ajmera, Victoria Dunning and Cynthia Pon I shared this title (and other related books) on my Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday post.

Healthy Kids #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

 I also finished two novels.

Maggot Moon written by Sally Gardner Sigh. This YA read was not an easy one. It literally made my skin crawl. Part of me wanted to shake this book off – it is full of horror and upset and pain. If the text and happenings weren’t enough to make the reader tremble, the black and white illustrations lining the bottom of pages serve to ensure that one is always uncomfortable. This book is a mystery. It is set in an alternative history – tells us a powerful dystopian fable. But it is also about courage and the power of friendship. I have really never read anything quite like this story – even though it has clear parallels and not so subtle nuances that speak to our own recent and atrocious history of war, oppression and brutality. Clearly young adult, fully compelling, this story is not one I will soon forget. Gardner delivers a very important story. Highly recommended.

Maggot Moon #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

After Ever After written by Jordan Sonnenblick I read (and loved) Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie a few weeks ago and couldn’t wait to read this companion book. It made me cry. And laugh. And appreciate life. What more does one need from a story? I am fast becoming a huge Sonnenblick fan.

After ever After #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I am starting Sold by Patricia McCormick 

What are you reading this week?