Holiday Books to Treasure

We’re getting to a time of year when seasonal books are flying off the shelves. People are coming in asking for holiday books and new versions of old classics and holiday tales starring familiar characters. But when picking gifts for older readers, sometimes it’s nice to give a book with beautiful illustrations and words that resonate beyond winter. Here are two books suited to older readers or perhaps a family to whom you want to give something special.


What the Heart KnowsWhat the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms and Blessings by Joyce Sidman, illus. by Pamela Zagarenski; Houghton Mifflin; 16.99; Ages 12 and up

Sidman’s latest book of poetry tackles some of the harder moments in a lifetime: heartache, illness, and loss. In four different sections, Sidman celebrates the idea of words as magical. The section headings (Chants, Charms, Spells, etc.) reinforce this idea, that words can smooth over hurt places and help us heal. Beautiful mixed-media illustrations by Zagarenski, twice a Caldecott Honor winner, capture the essence of each selection. This is a wonderful choice for a loved one, a teen getting ready for new experiences, or anyone facing change in their life.

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks by Katherine Paterson, illus. by Pamela Dalton; Chronicle Books; 18.99; Ages 6-10

Celebrated author Katherine Paterson brings a calm wisdom to this collection of poems, prayers and praise songs, just in time for Thanksgiving. If you are looking for a new reading to share with family at your dinner table or just to read in quiet moments, this is a wonderful choice. Paterson includes prayers and poetry from different cultures, Bible selections alongside Native American blessings, lyrics to spirituals, and “Amazing Grace.” Dalton’s illustrations are  traditional scherenschnitte paper cuttings. Elaborate borders and page edgings are in white and some pieces are painted with watercolors, creating a nice contrast. This beautifully designed book would be a special addition to any family collection.

—Cecilia

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Amanda’s Favorites of 2011

Amanda has been on maternity leave for awhile, but that doesn’t mean she’s stopped reading! Her favorites, like her reading tastes, span a variety of genres:

Blackout by John Rocco, $16.99; Hyperion Books for Children; ages 3+

The Trouble With Chickens: A J.J. Tully Story; $14.99; HarperCollins, ages 7+

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman; $16.99; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; ages 5+

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen; $19.99; Penguin Group; ages 14+