ALA has a nice article with recommended holiday titles: Children’s librarians recommend books for the holidays. It offers a gift-giving guide for children from preschool to 8th grade with picture books, fiction and nonfiction. Best of all, it is not overpowered by Christmas books, but offers a wider range of holidays.
Aggie and Ben: three stories by Lori Ries, illustrated by Frank W. Dormer.
This is a charming early chapter book! Ben is a young boy who gets to select a new pet. He thinks about all of his options, but finally decides on a puppy, Aggie. In the second chapter, Ben decides to pretend to be a puppy like Aggie, but sometimes Aggie’s habits are a little off-putting. And finally, Ben and Aggie try to sleep through the night together but Aggie continues to see strange things in the dark.
The writing by Ries is clever. I especially enjoyed Ben’s thoughts as he considered each choice for a pet and rejected them. The humor is understated but children will immediately understand it. Just a lovely, easy read. Dormer’s illustrations give the book a feel of an early reader graphic novel where the illustrations are self-contained and boxed in, giving a comic strip feel to the book. I think this will increase child appeal even more. The text on each page is quite brief and not overwhelming at all for new readers. This one is certainly a winner.
Give this to newly emergent readers. Boys and girls alike will fall in love with the characters and will join me in waiting eagerly for the next volume of Ben and Aggie stories.
My Mother’s Sari by Sandhya Rao, illustrated by Nina Sabnani.
An interesting mix of fabrics and painting, this picture book captures the essence of the beauty, grace and flexibility of a sari through the eyes of a child. With pieces of real sari material, we see a small girl interact with the sari and show the many ways it can be: long like a train, used as a hammock, or a safe blanket for a nap. The joy on the child’s face as she explores the vibrant fabrics is contagious. The words are simple and evocative, especially the final spread. They will encourage all children to explore, play and dream.
This is a great choice to add to units on clothing, because for some children it will serve as a window to another culture and for others they will see themselves and their mothers’ clothing reflected back to them. Because of the simplicity of the text, it can be shared with preschoolers. The text is brief enough for toddlers, but they may not understand some of the more ephemeral charm of the book.