Books as Gifts
Holiday Buying Guide 2005
Reading Rockets' second annual holiday buying guide makes it easy to find good books kids will enjoy.
Browse through the 2005 holiday buying guide below.
- See books for 0-4 year olds
- See books for 4-5 year olds
- See books for 6-7 year olds
- See books for 8-9 year olds
For 6-7 year olds: To read on their own
A Book About Design: Complicated Doesn’t Make It Good
Attractive, bold and crisp visuals, and a limited text in ten short chapters introduce art and how it works. Learn about the effect of lines, color, and contrast on one’s perception of an image in this book that's likely to not only inform, but also to inspire art activities.
Aaron and the Green Mountain Boys
This story of the Revolutionary War is based on a real boy who lived in Bennington, Vermont, in 1777. Aaron winds up helping save his town from approaching British troops. Pen and ink sketches illustrate this riveting, easy-to-read fictional history.
Amelia Bedelia, Rocket Scientist?
Literalist housekeeper Amelia Bedelia is back to help a teacher with the science fair. Snappy dialogue, slapstick humor, and recognizable situations are easy to read and sure to engage.
How to Be a Medieval Knight
This introduction to the medieval period and to “expert fighting men” never takes itself too seriously while introducing the time in which knights lived, fought, and played. Text and information are organized around questions, making this an engaging book to dip in and out of.
Mercy Watson to the Rescue
This is the first of the series of entertaining and engaging books about Mercy Watson, a charming pig adopted by a human couple. Here Mercy inadvertently saves the day, or at least her humans, amid a humorous series of events.
Stars Beneath Your Bed: The Surprising Story of Dust
Though few have ever considered dust – what it is or where it came from – this informative, evocative book may change that. Consider, for example, that the film on a computer screen may have been the dust on a dinosaur. Poetic language and suggestive illustrations pique interest through their simplicity.
You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Mother Goose Tales to Read Together
Take-offs of Mother Goose rhymes are the subject in this third read aloud/read together book. Color-coded text indicates when each of two readers should read alone or together. Comic cartoon-like illustrations romp across and through each double page poetic tale.
Audio books to share
A Single Shard
Tree Ear, a homeless orphan, longs to work as a potter, a respected but competitive employment — especially for a boy who lives under a bridge. Set in 12th century Korea, this Newbery Medal winning novel is as relevant as if it were taking place today. (2002 Newbery Medal Winner)
American Tall Tales
Meet heroes (and heroines) in these well-told tales of fictitious and actual characters from American folklore. These tales are ideal for reading aloud, and are illustrated with strong-lined wood engravings.
Bud, Not Buddy
Young Bud runs away from the latest and worst foster home in search of his father. Though he doesn't find his father, Bud (not Buddy) does find family, music, and more on his long trek across Michigan during the Depression. In this Newbery-winning novel, both humor and Bud's naive voice make difficult issues accessible to younger readers. (2000 Newbery Medal Winner)
Granny Torrelli Makes Soup
More than just delicious food comes from Granny Torrelli’s kitchen. The recipes for friendship and family are there in abundance for Rosie and her pal Bailey as they listen to Granny’s timeless tales.
Just So Stories
A rich, sonorous voice with a hint of an English accent makes Kipling’s tales of the jungle come to life all over again in this retelling of Just So Stories.
For 4-5 year olds: To read with you
A Was Once An Apple Pie
Before there was Dr. Seuss, there was nonsense poetry by Edward Lear. This Lear poem has been adapted and newly illustrated with handsome, colorful illustrations on uncluttered pages. The rhyming sounds for the letters from A and Z and all of the energetic, appealing letters in between are a delight when read aloud.
I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!
Zippy text in the cadence of a familiar song combine with madcap illustrations of a paint-crazed boy who, when stopped from painting his entire house, starts painting himself from head to toe! Readers will recognize the utter silliness as they enjoy the color-splashed pages.
Oscar's Half Birthday
Oscar and his inter-racial family celebrate his half birthday with a joyful picnic in the park. Families are likely to recognize Oscar's slightly cluttered home, the pleasure sister Milly takes in wearing her fairy wings (made from coat hangers), and the happiness in sharing a day together in the lighthearted illustrations and subtle text.
The Great Fuzz Frenzy
A fuzzy green ball is accidentally dropped by a large lumpy dog into a hole inhabited by prairie dogs. All of this causes great excitement. The prairie dogs not only make fashion statements, but discover that fancy fuzz can cause trouble. Spirited illustrations in a large format are as vivacious and funny as the text.
The Little Engine That Could
Rich, full-color illustrations in a large format breathe new life into this now classic story. The Little Blue Engine overcomes tough odds to succeed, all because she believes in herself: “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” And she does.
Travel with a community helper from an earlier time as Mr. Plimpton delivers milk and other dairy products along with a good deal of good will and care to the homes along his route. Richly-colored, highly-detailed illustrations highlight the changes as daylight grows and Mr. Plimpton completes his work.
Animals can seem unusual to the uninitiated. Why do lions have manes? (No, it’s not to show off or because they eat barbers.) Why do walruses have moustaches? These “whys” and more are addressed by silly answers as well as brief facts in this attractive book of large, comic illustrations and varied typefaces.
For 8-9 year olds: To read on their own
Meet the “stair and step” girls, Ella, Henny, Charlotte, Sarah, and Gertie who live with their parents on the Lower East Side of New York at the turn of the nineteenth century. Though the girls lived long ago, their fears as well as their triumphs are a celebration of everyday doings and remain as fresh today as when the girls were first introduced more than 50 years ago.
Celia Cruz: Queen of Salsa
Celia Cruz began singing on the streets of Havana as a child. She grew up to become a legendary singer and lasting influence on salsa. Bright, bold illustrations echo the vibrancy of the music in this handsome picture book biography.
Egypt: In Spectacular Cross-Section
An imagined journey on the Nile River in the time of Ramses II (around 1279-1213 BC) begins when 11-year-old Dedia and his father travel to a wedding in Piramesse. What they see along the way is minutely detailed and clearly labeled illustrations in an oversized format.
Looking for Bobowicz: A Hoboken Chicken Story
Ivan Itch finds friendship as well as Arthur Bobowicz's 266-pound chicken in this hilarious adventure which started in Hoboken Chicken Emergency. The slapstick humor resumes in The Artsy Smartsy Club in which art enlivens an otherwise dull Hoboken summer for Ivan, Bruno Ugg, Loretta Fischetti, and, of course, Henrietta.
Lucy Rose: Here’s the Thing About Me
Lucy Rose realizes she is a “smart cookie,” but is still thrown by the changes in her life, which include a move to Washington, D.C., where her grandparents live. She narrates her own story in this fresh, fast, often funny, and always plausible novel. Her story continues in Lucy Rose: Big on Plans.
Oh, No! Where Are My Pants? and Other Disasters: Poems
Everyone has had a moment or a day in which nothing seems to be going right. These short, gently illustrated poems not only recall some of these uncomfortable moments, but are sure to help readers recognize the humor in them.
What You Never Knew About Tubs, Toilets, & Showers
History comes to life in this book's cartoon-like illustrations and informative but informal text. This is not just any history, though. It is the history of plumbing, and “…the history of the bathroom in Europe and North America is a strange story of how people washed themselves often, sometimes, or not at all.”
For 8-9 year olds: To read with you
Beyond the Great Mountains: A Visual Poem About China
Spare text and highly textured rice paper illustrations combine in an unusual format to provide a glimpse of China, the creator’s homeland. Chinese characters placed on each page add to the poetry of the entire book.
Chet Gecko's Detective Handbook (and Cookbook): Tips for Private Eyes and Snack Food Lovers
This spiral-bound book opens like a detective's pad, holding the insight, advice, humor, and recipes of elementary-aged gecko sleuth, Chet. With comments inserted by Chet's mockingbird friend Natalie, this cheeky, funny, pun-filled pad-folio can be used by itself, but may also lead young readers to other Chet Gecko mystery novels.
Stunning color photographs and poems combine to pay homage to some of the “world’s enduring man-made constructions” while introducing a range of poetic forms. The result is a memorable collection of visual art, information, and literary art sure to stand up to multiple examinations.
Quilt of States: Piecing America Together
Quilts, a truly American art form, are used to illustrate each state in the order in which it was admitted into the United States. Short essays written by state librarians provide the story, background, and information about each quilt and state, and are reflected in the handsome, unique, and colorful illustrations.
Rosa Parks was an ordinary woman who became a hero because she "was not going to give in to that which was wrong." A catalyst for the famous Montgomery Bus boycott in Alabama, she turned the nation's attention to a glaring injustice in our society. Powerful illustrations evoke a time before the Civil Rights era and give the reader a glimpse at a person, her impact, and a period in American history.
The Librarian of Basra: A True Story From Iraq
In spite of looming war, librarian Alia Muhammed Baker was able to save the books from the library of Basra by moving them to safety. Simple forms and deep colors in a naïve style evoke the war without being explicit. The bravery and action of one person celebrates both everyday heroism and books as a unifying force.
These short poems are an eclectic menagerie of animals illustrated with sophisticated, semi-abstract, and animated paintings. Filled with snappy word play, this book is sure to delight readers who will meet both the familiar and the exotic in this engaging zoo.
For 0-4 year olds: To read with you
A pacifier is the familiar security object featured in this board book. The child, drawn in bold line on brightly colored backgrounds, remains the focus as he learns about binkies!
A blanket is the familiar security object featured in this board book. The child, drawn in bold line on brightly colored backgrounds, remains the focus as he learns about blankies!
Llama Llama Red Pajama
Even the bedtime rituals don’t subdue the dramatic baby llama and the nighttime fears that descend when Mama Llama leaves his room. Young readers (and their parents) will see their own behavior in the rhyming text and expressive and winning illustrations.
Puppies! Puppies! Puppies!
A rhyming refrain is repeated – “here and there and everywhere! Puppies! Puppies! Puppies!” – as the adorable dogs grow from tiny to naughty to grown-up (with lots in between). The over-sized format supports the delectable depictions of delightful dogs.
Red Light, Green Light
Rhyming text and illustrations with bright color and bold form depict a child’s play with toy trucks, cars, and other things that move. Lines on the road are created by pencils, overpasses by books, and a teddy bear is seen in a traffic circle. The book shows the child's appealing, imaginary world, all within his control.
Rin, Rin, Rin/Do, Re, Mi
Semi-abstract illustrations use bold lines and strong color to accompany and enhance the inviting text that encourages participation both in Spanish and English. Readers are invited to count, find words, and perhaps even sing (music is included) in this winning combination of words and images.
Shhh! Everybody’s Sleeping
All the grown-ups from the zookeeper to the President are sleeping and “you know who should be sleeping, just like the sun?” Mama’s “sweet little one,” of course. Night-toned illustrations with lots of detail and short rhyming text create a bedtime story that holds up to multiple readings.
Two children prepare for a backyard adventure, taking with them a rainbow of necessities: a blue backpack, a yellow book, even a multi-colored blanket to serve as their tent when they take a nap. The simple adventure is told in uncomplicated sentences presented in Spanish and English, and is illustrated in richly hued, swirling images.
Truck Goes Rattley-Bumpa
Trucks come in many sizes and colors and serve many functions, including driving a little boy to his new home. Crisp lines, broad forms, and bold colors combine with the straightforward narration for a satisfying look at an ever popular topic: things that go.
Baby birds and baby lizards don't eat what our baby eats! Those babies eat worms, fish, beetles and other yucky things. But those babies would say “Yuck!” to the warm milk that our baby enjoys. Light lines on large, warm-toned pages convey humor and just a bit of information to be shared again and again.
For 6-7 year olds: To read with you
Because of his unrequited love for the moon, a giant becomes a sleeping mountain over which the town called Pupickton is formed. Pupickton remains very quiet until a girl who loves noise cannot be stilled. Carolinda brings a joyful loudness back to the too-quiet town while helping to heal the giant’s broken heart.
Food for Thought
Fruits and vegetables have distinct personalities — at least in the hands of the team that created How Are You Peeling. Here, expressive foods suggest shapes, colors, numbers, and more (as well as a range of emotions) in crisp, full-color photographs of fascinating food sculptures.
It Is the Wind
As he sits on the edge of his bed and peers out the window, a young boy wonders what is making the noise outside as he tries to sleep. It could be a cow and her calf, or many other things on the farm, but ultimately, the child sleeps; only the reader realizes it is a cat that has created the noise. Poetic text and luminous illustrations present a graceful story.
Jose! Born to Dance: The Story of Jose Limon
Born in 1908, in a small Mexican village, Jose Limon seemed destined to become an artist. The lyrical language incorporates onomatopoeic and Spanish words. The distinctive illustrations with swirling colors reveal the life of a great modern dancer and choreographer.
Soonie's great grandmother was only seven-years-old when sold to the big plantation. A quilt that showed the way to freedom and chronicled the family's history connects the generations, and continues to do so. Idealized illustrations and the poetic text provide an unusual family story.
The Hello, Goodbye Window
The window at Nanna and Poppy's house looks like a regular window, but it's really a doorway to the child's world and a celebration of the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren. Celebrate family with this 2006 Caldecott Medal-winning book.
The Perfect Wizard: Hans Christian Andersen
Life as fiction comes together in this attractive and engaging picture book biography of the man who is known for his fairy tales. Excerpts from these tales are juxtaposed with real events in Andersen’s life to provide a fresh look at the stories and their creator.
For 4-5 year olds: To read on their own
Crisp color photographs of the panther chameleon that is native to Madagascar are combined with informative but engaging text in this book. It is an unforgettable journey across the chameleon's habitat, where readers come to appreciate the creatures and their environment.
Go, Dog, Go!
Big dogs, little dogs, and all kinds of dogs are on the go throughout the pages of this surprising and funny classic easy reader. Illustrations use strong lines with muted colors to show playful mutts of all sizes in outrageous activities that keep beginning readers reading.
How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?
They’re back! This time, the creators of How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? take on obnoxious and downright gross behaviors at mealtime. While kids will find delight when the Amargasaurus flips his spaghetti into the air or the Lambeosaurus blows bubbles in milk, adults will appreciate the presentation of calm and more appropriate behavior.
When Eugene is shipwrecked on a tiny island, he finds a friend in Lenny, an exceptionally intelligent parrot who talks. Readers will understand the changing meaning of Eugene’s repeated “terrific” as the story and the understated humor grow in this engaging yarn.
Walter Was Worried
The alphabet is cleverly used to tell an alliterative story and to depict a range of emotions in this charming book. Not only was Walter worried, Priscilla was puzzled, Elliott was ecstatic, and so on. Each is created by the letter itself, making playful visuals for the reader's eye.
White Is for Blueberry
When is “pink for crow…”? When it has “just hatched from its egg.” Vibrant, uncluttered paintings accompany the straightforward text to explore different ways of looking at things and prove that blueberries can be white!
Readers will wiggle and giggle through the rhyming text and collages that combine paintings and photographs in this playful romp. A dog is the focus as he wiggles through a wobbly world until all settle down under a cozy moon for a good night’s sleep.
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