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Holiday gift guide: Children's books

A wide selection of stories for young readers.

December 05, 2010

Alberic the Wise

And Other Journeys

Norton Juster, illustrated by Domenico Gnoli

Random House/Yearling, $5.99, ages 8-12

Idiosyncratic tales of adventure in mythic lands from the author of "The Phantom Tollbooth," with lots of curious ideas to chew over.

Bats at the Ballgame

Brian Lies

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99, ages 3-7

When night falls, bats go to the ballpark — and they're quite versed in baseball esoterica. For baseball fans of any age.

A Christmas Carol

A Pop-Up Book

Charles Dickens and Chuck Fischer

Little, Brown, $30, ages 4-8

With master paper engineer Bruce Foster's help, Chuck Fischer re-creates Dickens' classic tale with color pop-up scenes that teach little ones about the true meaning of Christmas.

DC Super Heroes

The Ultimate Pop-Up Book

DC Comics and Matthew Reinhart

Little, Brown, $29.99, ages 4-8

A light-up bat signal and a transparent invisible jet are just two of the cool interactive features bringing Batman, Wonder Woman and friends alive.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth

A Novel

Jeff Kinney

Amulet Books, $13.95, ages 9-12

It's been three years since Greg Heffley entered middle school in the first "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," and in the newest one, Greg faces another terrifying moment: the morphing of young male bodies into pubescent men.

Far Away Across the Sea

Toon Tellegen, illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg

Boxer Books, $12.95, ages 5 and up

A collection of stories about philosophically inclined animals, full of charm and humanity.

A Good Horse

Jane Smiley

Random House, $16.99, ages 11 and up

Set in 1960s California horse country, eighth-grader Abby fears losing two of her beloved horses when a mystery unfolds involving their rightful owners.


A Year of Haiku for Boys

Bob Raczka, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $14.99, ages 5-8

Set against the backdrop of the four seasons, this book uses haiku and pictures of boys goofing off in nature to introduce children to the joys of poetry.

Jackie's Gift

Sharon Robinson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Viking, $16.99, ages 4-8

The latest book in Sharon Robinson's series of stories about her father, baseball legend Jackie Robinson, takes place during the family's first year in Brooklyn, where not all the neighbors were happy to see a black family move in. One neighbor boy happily comes to help the family trim their Christmas tree, but when Jackie reciprocates with the gift of a tree, the boy's Jewish family has to consider how to respond. A lovely story about social assumptions.

The Lovesick Skunk

Joe Hayes, illustrated by Antonio Castro L.

Cinco Puntos Press, $16.95, ages 4-8

Move over Pepé Le Pew: A pair of black-and-white high-top sneakers become the love interest of a skunk — much to the chagrin of the boy who's wearing them.

Lucy and the Green Man

Linda Newbery

Random House, $16.99, ages 8-12

A sweet tale that celebrates the powers of the imagination centers on young Lucy, her Grandpa Will and Lob, the magical green man who tends Will's garden.


A Novel

Suzanne Collins

Scholastic: 400 pp., $17.99, young adult

The final act of the "Hunger Games" trilogy delivers a wrenching conclusion to this saga of a country in chaos and the 17-year-old protagonist who caused it.

Night Star

Alyson Noël

St. Martin's, $17.99, young adult

The "Immortals" series continues with the love story of paranormal teens Ever and Damen and a harrowing showdown with Haven, Ever's enemy.


A Novel

Andrea Cremer

Philomel: 456 pp., $17.99, young adult

The "Twilight" crew will feast on this new series, featuring 17-year-old Calla Tor, a golden-eyed blond who shape-shifts between human and werewolf and is torn between two hotties as supernatural warfare looms.


Cornelia Funke

Little, Brown, $19.99, ages 10 and up

Young Jacob must save his brother, who has turned into a living stone man, in an adventure fantasy set in a magical fairy-tale land accessible through a mirror in their father's study.

The Ring of Solomon

A Novel

Jonathan Stroud

Disney/Hyperion, $17.99 ages 10 and up

A new addition to the bestselling "Bartimaeus Trilogy," this new tale describes the djinni Bartimaeus' adventures long before the trilogy opens as he travels to Jerusalem and the court of King Solomon.


A Novel

Catherine Fisher

Dial Books, $17.99, ages 12 and up

In this sequel to the novel "Incarceron," readers return to a bleak prison-planet where 17-year-old Finn has escaped the prison and faces a surprising claimant to the planet's throne.

The Secret of Ka

Christopher Pike

Harcourt, $16, ages 12 and up

Flying carpets, monstrous genies and a cute local love interest make for an exciting vacation in this teen thriller set in Istanbul.

10 Little Penguins

Jean-Luc Fromental, illustrated by Joëlle Jolivet

Abrams, $17.95, ages 4-8

A counting pop-up book featuring mischievous penguins.

12 Days of Christmas

Rachel Isadora

Putnam, $16.99, all ages

The words from the traditional song are set to African scenes, and work wonderfully well: Nine ladies dancing, 12 drummers drumming, indeed.


A Novel

Kathy Reichs

Razorbill, $17.99, young adult

Tory Brennan — the niece of Reichs' forensic heroine, Temperance Brennan ("Bones") — and her friends stumble on a government secret experiment involving dogs and a virus that can turn humans into wolves.

A Wish for Elves

Mark Gonyea

Henry Holt, $12.99, ages 5 and up

You can always be surprised by one more genius variation on the Santa story. A kid overwhelmed by the business of the holiday season moans: "Life would be easier if I had elves, too!" Poof! He's got Santa's elves. What will he do with them? And what will Santa do without them?

Witch & Wizard

The Gift

James Patterson

Little, Brown, $17.99, young adult

Siblings with magical powers return to fight the wicked forces of the New Order regime as the leaders of the teen resistance movement.

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