Great Holiday Book Ideas from the OPL

By Jennifer Evans,  Children’s Librarian at the Hazeldean Branch of the Ottawa Public Library

A Big Guy Took My Ball! By Mo Willems (2013).

willemsGerald and Piggie are back for more adventures in this silly but relatable story. Piggie finds (and quickly loses) a most excellent bouncy ball – can Gerald get it back? Fans of the Elephant and Piggie series will delight in their 19th outing. This is a great series for early readers, as it features lots of word repetition amidst wacky story lines.

Clementine and the Spring Trip by Sara Pennypacker, with illustrations by Marla Frazee (2013).

clemintineI recommend Pennypacker’s Clementine series every chance I get, so I think it would be wonderful if it made its way onto some shopping lists this holiday season! Clementine is this generation’s Ramona Quimby. She is smart, silly, creative beyond words, and always seems to find herself in outrageous situations. For new readers to the series, start with Clementine. The newest addition to the series is Clementine and the Spring Trip, in which Clementine unravels the secret rules of Grade 4 and tries to find a way to survive The Cloud on Bus 7.

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman (2013).

gaimanGaiman won the prestigious Newbery Medal for another children’s book (The Graveyard Book), so you can’t go wrong picking up this story, which is geared towards younger readers. While going out to buy some milk for his children’s cereal, a father is abducted by aliens (I know what you’re thinking: typical Monday). As a result, the father is taken on a wild journey through the space-time continuum, meeting up with pirates, space aliens, dinosaurs, and volcano gods. This makes a great read-aloud for children ages 7 and up. Check out the author reading an excerpt here:

Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury by Arnold Lobel (2013).

toadIf you often find yourself doing some last-minute holiday shopping, you’ll want to keep this title in mind (it won’t be released until December 23rd). However, Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad are worth the wait. This treasury brings together many of our favourite Frog and Toad tales, including Frog and Toad Are Friends and Frog and Toad All Year. This would be a lovely addition to anyone’s personal library, young or old.

LEGO Play Book: Ideas to Bring Your Bricks to Life by Daniel Lipkowitz (2013).

legoFor the builders in your family, you will want to get a copy of this colourful guide to everything “LEGO”. The recently published LEGO Play Book suggests ways to improve building techniques, provides fun timed challenges, and features ideas from some of LEGO’s biggest fans. With easy, medium, and more difficult challenges, this book will appeal to builders of all skill levels.

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson (2013).

treeIf you loved Herve Tullet’s Press Here, you’ll want to add this book to your holiday shopping list. In Tap the Magic Tree, readers are asked to help a tree move through the four seasons by tapping, rubbing, and wiggling the pages. Children will love the chance to participate in helping the story unfold – simply put, it’s pure magic.

The Adventures of Captain Underpants Now in Full Color by Dav Pilkey (2013).

underpantsEverything old is new again with Captain Underpants, as the formerly black-and-white series gets a blast of colour. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, it tells the story of two fourth-grade boys who hypnotize their school principal to run around town as the hero of the comic books they’ve written (enter Captain Underpants). Silly? Oh yes. But its popularity can’t be denied. The action, humour, and blend of text and pictures all come together to create something truly special.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers (2013).

crayonsLike many young children, Duncan loves to colour and draw. However, his crayons have a few complaints about how they’re being used, and leave him a stack of letters outlining their protests. This is a delightful and funny picture book, with expressive illustrations provided by the always enjoyable Oliver Jeffers. This story is sure to appeal to a wide age-range.

The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore, with illustrations by Barbara Reid (2013).

christmasWhile there are dozens of versions of this quintessential children’s Christmas story, this is my new favourite. Barbara Reid has lent her creativity to the story, providing beautiful and intricate Plasticine illustrations alongside the classic text. Read this story with family and friends, and don’t forget to spend ample time poring over the pictures – Barbara Reid likes to hide lots of little details to reward the attentive reader. Watch the book trailer here:

Who Goes There? By Karma Wilson, with illustrations by Anna Currey (2013).

wilsonSnuggle up with your little ones to read this cozy book by Karma Wilson. Lewis Mouse has moved into a lovely new nest just in time for winter, but something seems to be missing. Before he can figure out exactly what his new home is lacking, he starts to hear mysterious noises outside his nest. Will Lewis be able to figure out what’s making all this noise? A lovely surprise will help him to make his house a home. The story is comforting and feels familiar, which makes it a perfect story to share on a cold winter night.