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Gift Ideas for Teens and Tweens

by Betsy - 0 Comment(s)

These are just a few thoughts for gifts your readers might find enticing around the holidays this year, if you're already thinking about what to buy or send away for family. If your avid readers have already read these, don't hesitate to ask us for other suggestions!

Night Gardener The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier. Molly and Kip are Irish orphans who find themselves indentured at the Windsor Estate, a place that itself is under a mysterious curse. Molly uses her strong storytelling gifts to help the two of them along, while Kip has a more literal prop, his crutch, Courage. This spooky novel was shortlisted for this year's Governor General's Literary Award.

We Were Liars

We Were Liars by e lockhart. Sixteen-year-old Cady Sinclair is spending the summer vacationing on her grandfather's private island, after having spent a summer away with her father in Europe. Now she is back at Beechwood, trying to piece together how she came to hurt her head and lose her memory two years before. She comes from a very privileged and dysfunctional family - readers are shown the Sinclairs through Cadence Sinclair Eastman’s eyes and they will meet her cousins Johnny and Mirren, as well as Gat, her aunt's husband's nephew, with whom became romantically involved. The “liars” are her cousins, herself, and Gat. This is a book that will make you want to start re-reading it almost immediately.

The BoundlessThe Boundless by Kenneth Oppel. Kenneth Oppel's latest newest book throws in everything, from evil villaiins and train robberies, to circus acrobats, sasquatches and Canadian history. When Will ends up in possession of the key to a train car containing priceless treasures on the maiden voyage of The Boundless, the longest train in the world, he becomes the target of sinister figures from his past. The part of his past from three years ago when was invited on a train trip by Cornelius Van Horne and just ended up happening to drive in the last spike on a train trip. The same Cornelius Van Horne, railroad magnate, whose body now lies in state in the train car to which he is now guarding the key. Guarding the key from a murderous brakeman named Brogan. The train car that is only seven miles and 900 cars away from his father.

If I've missed your favorite, let me know. If you and your reader(s) have already read one or all of these and would like another suggestion, let us know that, too.

Gift Ideas for Younger Children

by Betsy - 0 Comment(s)

If you need to buy a present for someone with younger children, or just like to share a great picture book with your own kids, these are a few of my recent favourites:

This Book Just Ate my Dog! by Richard Byrne

Following somewhat in the footsteps of the very popular Press Here, this is a picture book with a bit of interactivity, in which a young girl named Bella out for a dogwalk is very surprised when her dog disappears into the margin, followed quickly by her friend, Ben. When that seems to be just the beginning of this voracious book's appetites, it may just be up to the reader to sort things out and help save Bella, Ben, and all of her would-be rescuers, in a book that may just become a family favourite.

The World According to Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan

Readers are familiar with musk ox, who stood front and center through both the alphabet and a counting odyssey. After all, it is all about him. Now, in their third outing, the two traipse all around the globe, with zebra introducing facts about each continent, while musk ox is, well, musk ox.

The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier

With the 100th Anniversary of Hockey Canada, it seems terribly appropriate to also have a hockey book for Christmas. What could be better than the 30th Anniversary edition of the classic Canadian title about a young boy's horror when his mother ends up replacing his #9 jersey not with another of the great Maurice Richard, but with a jersey belonging to ... the horror, the Toronto Maple Leafs? This isn't done in a town where the boys dress like the Rocket, act like the Rocket, comb their hair like the Rocket. How can he show his face again? This edition also comes with a bonus DVD.

And Two Boys Booed by Judith Viorst

On the morning of the talent show, after a lot of practicing, a small boy had practiced "a billion times." Judith Viorst presents a cumulative tale about a very realistic fear about performance anxiety with wonderful illustrations and flaps that show how this performer deals with a few detractors in a story that will resonate with anybody that has or will ever sing a song, play an instrument, give a speech, tell a story, or do anything in front of a crowd.

It's a great year for fantastic picture books! If you've found others, or would like other suggestions, drop us a line in the comments. Don't forget that you will find these, and other great titles, in your local Library!

Stocking Stuffers and Gift Ideas

by Betsy - 0 Comment(s)

Have you started thinking about gift ideas for friends or family members and come up with a blank? Here are a few thoughts to get you started, whether you are ordering online or looking for a list to take to your favourite store...

For Children:

  • Moose That Says MooMoose That Says MooA Moose That Says Moo! by Jennifer Hamburg, Illustrated by Sue Truesdell. A little girl imagines a zoo in which animals can do whatever she wants: dance, drive, read, have pillow fights... When things get slightly out of hand, what can possibly calm things down in this hilarious romp?
  • The Little Mermaid It's been 24 years since Ariel first ventured onto land to seek her Prince, enchanting audiences young and old to come along with her "unda da sea." This fall Disney has released her from the vault, in a new Diamond Edition Blu-Ray version sure to enchant both children unfamiliar with her, as well as anyone whose copies are too worn out from repeat viewings.
  • Snowflakes Fall by Patricia MacLachlan, Illustrated by Steven Kellogg. This beautiful picture book is the result of a collaboration between a Newbery winning author and the author and illustrator of over 90 books, including some of my personal favorites. It is dedicated to the children of Sandy Hook, and is comprised of a poem celebrating the circle of life and the ephemeral nature of snowflakes, amid doublepage spreads with children playing. It is a book meant to adorn a child's bookshelf and be shared among generations. Keep a kleenex handy when you read it.
  • I am Blop! by Herve Tullet Tullet's last book, Press Here, provided a fun and interactive storytelling experience for children, that resulted in it being chosen in the top 50 of a poll of the top 100 picture books. His new board book, I am Blop!, explores everyday concepts as varied as counting and colours to the animal kingdom and seasons, by introducing them as something as ephemeral as a splotch.

For Teens:

  • Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson The prolific and award-winning author of adult science fiction and fantasy writes a book for his teenage self. This YA fantasy finds a teen seeking revenge for the untimely death of his father at the hands of a madman with superpowers named Steelheart who has taken over Chicago, now called Newcago, at a time when random people have been granted amazing powers. These Epics have, unfortunately, all fallen into line behind Steelheart. Can anyone stop them?
  • Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein The follow-up to Wein's Printz honour-award winning Code Name Verity packs just as much of an emotional punch. American ATA pilot Rose Justice is captured by the Nazis en route from England to Paris and sent to Ravensbrück. She recounts her stay in this notorious camp in her diary, in another three-hanky read.
  • Allegiant by Veronica Roth For all the teens who will have seen Catching Fire more than once by the holidays, the final book in Veronica Roth's trilogy will be a must-read this holiday season (finishing up the series behind Divergent and Insurgent.) The trailer for Divergent, which opens in March, 2014, starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, and Kate Winslet, looks pretty fantastic, too.

For Adults:

  • Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson. Praise for this book is wide and unstinting: it was Amazon's August "Best Book of the Month", and called "the best work of military history in years" by the New York Times. A readable narrative nonfiction book traces many issues in today's Middle East back to a figure many people only know from an iconic Hollywood film.
  • The Orenda by Joseph Boyden A book for serious bibliophiles and literary fiction lovers, this newest novel by the Scotiabank Giller prize-winner has already been named a finalist for the Governor General's award. Boyden presents a narrative with the stories of three characters in early 17th Century Canada: a Francophone missionary, a kidnapped Iroquois teen, and a warrior named Bird who is mourning the deaths of members of his family at the hands of the Iroquois.
  • The Circle by Dave Eggers Dave Eggers' new dystopian novel has a young woman named Mae Holland getting a job with, and then pretty much turning her life over to the world's hottest Internet company. No prizes for guessing that it may resemble a company with your favourite search engine, maps, lettered email, etc.
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme C. Simsion There's no arguing that Professor Don Tillman is an expert on genetics. That's a good thing, as he has pretty much no awareness of anything else, which is evident to everyone around him, even the twelve-year-olds to whom he presents a lecture on Asperger's. His decision to find a wife comes as a shock to him, as he's never even managed a second date, but he decides to do it the way he has done everything else, by developing a Project using the scientific method, and a 16-page evaluation. It is hardly surprising then, that a bartending, drinking, smoker would be anathema to him, yet when he meets Rosie, she not only needs his help for her own project, she manages to teach him how to experience life.

Don't forget that many of these are likely available in our catalogue in alternate formats (BookCD, Large Print, etc.), or in Overdrive as an e-book or e-audiobook, if you'd like to add them to your own reading lists. If you've found another ideal gift, please feel free to add it to the comments.