Books That Make Great Gifts

November 1, 2012
by piedfam

Books That Make Great Gifts

Looking for a book to give your favorite reader this holiday season?

Librarians from our local library systems share suggestions for readers old and young.

Recommended by Laini Bostian, Youth Services Coordinator, Culpeper County Library

Young Adult

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer  – Told in their separate voices, sixteen-year-old Prince Oliver, who wants to break free of his fairy tale existence, and fifteen-year-old Delilah, a loner obsessed with Prince Oliver and the book in which he exists, work together to seek his freedom.

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund – Elliot North fights to save her family’s land and her own heart in this post-apocalyptic reimaging of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer – Three sophomore best friends use their brains and wits to find happiness in high school.

Young Readers

Little Dog, Lost by Marion Dane Bauer – A boy, a dog, and an old man are lonely before the boy plans a rally, the dog looks for a boy, and all the townspeople run to the old man’s aid when lightning strikes his home and something miraculous happens.

Middle School, Get Me Out of Here! by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts – After Rafe is happily accepted into art school in a big city, he discovers more academic rigor and competition than he expected, compelling him to find inspiration in other exciting activities.

Once Upon a Toad by Heather Vogel Frederick – When her mother goes on a NASA mission, Cat Starr is sent to live with her father, stepsister Olivia, and younger brother Geoffrey, but interference by her inept fairy godmother causes toads to appear when Cat speaks and gems to fall from Olivia’s mouth, bringing one to the attention of jewel thieves and the other to a secret government laboratory.

Picture Books

The Great Sheep Shenanigans by Peter Bently – A confident wolf named Lou Pine is in for a surprise when he disguises himself and tries to outwit the “dumb” sheep.

I know a Wee Piggy by Kim Norman, pictures by Henry Cole – A cumulative, rhyming tale of an ordinary pig who leaps out of his boy’s arms at a state fair and wallows in color after color, turning himself into a work of art.

Where do Diggers Sleep at Night? by Brianna Caplan Sayres, illustrated by Christian Slade – Illustrations and rhyming text reveal what trucks, tractors, and construction vehicles do to get ready for bed after a hard day’s work.

Recommended by Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Senior Librarian and Fran Burke-Urr, Manager of Library Collection Development, Fauquier County Public Library

Young Readers/Listeners

The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco – Patricia Polacco often draws from personal and family history for her picture book stories.  In The Art of Miss Chew, she pays tribute to her beloved art teacher. This is a great story about the importance of teachers and the arts in the lives of all children.

Baby Bear Sees Blue by Audrey Wood – Beloved picture book author Audrey Wood’s latest picture book is irresistible; with a combination of a curious baby cub, a patient mama bear, and gorgeous illustrations, young children will learn about the glorious colors found in nature.

Backseat A-B-See by Maria van Lieshout – If you’re looking for an innovative alphabet book, try Backseat A-B-See.  From the perspective of a young child in the backseat of the car, young readers and listeners can learn the alphabet through road signs.

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman – Boy + Bot is a classic friendship story, albeit one about a boy and a robot. Their funny yet endearing ways of caring for each other when they suspect that the other is sick will entertain young children and parents alike.

Homer by Elisha Cooper – If you have or have ever had a dog slowing down in his golden years, reading Homer will definitely put a lump in your throat.  Homer is quite content to doze on his front porch while the human and other canine members of his family go about their activities. Although they invite him to join in their adventures, Homer is happy to hear about their fun when they return.  The ending will melt your heart (and no, he doesn’t die).

King Jack and the Dragon by Peter Bently – King Jack and the Dragon is not only a very cool story about three boys fighting a fierce dragon, but it’s also a lovely story about imaginative play. One of the best details about the story is that (King) Jack’s little brother is included in the play as a matter of course, with no fuss or cajoling from parents.

Independent Readers

Aliens on Vacation by Clete Barrett Smith – Aliens on Vacation is science fiction with a healthy dose of wacky humor. Scrub is not looking forward to spending the summer with his eccentric grandmother, who runs a unique bed-and-breakfast. Scrub quickly finds out the true identity of his grandmother’s guests, starting him on a summer of wacky adventures.

Bad Kitty series by Nick Bruel – The Bad Kitty chapter book series (there are also Bad Kitty picture books) is perfect for children just beginning to read chapter books, as well as reluctant readers.  Laugh-out-loud humor and pen-and-ink illustrations will quickly hook young readers eager to read about Bad Kitty’s mishaps and adventures.

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang -Virginia author Wendy Wan-Long Shang’s debut novel incorporates several deep topics: cultural identity, generational gaps, and mean girl behavior.  Fortunately, they’re incorporated in such a winning, believable, and even humorous way that all readers will identify with Lucy, who has to share her room with her grandmother visiting fromChina, reluctantly attend Saturday “Chinese school,” and deal with mean girl Sloane when trying out for the basketball team.

Lunch Lady series by Jarrett Krosoczka – Who is Lunch Lady? Just your ordinary cafeteria server/crime fighter, that’s all.  This comic book/graphic novel series has gained legions of young fans since its debut in 2009.  Whether it’s uncovering a plot to replace the popular teachers with robots, figuring out who stole the treats from the bake sale, or investigating the disappearance of the gym teacher after an author visits the school, Lunch Lady is on hand to save the day.

Scientists in the Field series by various authors – If you have a budding scientist or veterinarian on your hands, the Scientists in the Field series is ideal for information-hungry naturalists. Each book features a scientist/scientists who has dedicated his/her life to the study of a specific animal. The photography is outstanding and the writing is engaging.

Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt – Young Fredle (a mouse) faces adventure and danger as he struggles to return home after being cast out by another mouse. Newbery Medal winning author Cynthia Voigt has created a memorable animal adventure story ripe with excitement, tender moments, and hilarity.


The Appalachian Trail: Celebrating America’s Hiking Trail by Brian King with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, forward by Bill Bryson

The Art of Robert Frost by Tim Kendall

The Black Count:  Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss

Desperate Sons: Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, John Hancock and the Secret Bands of Radicals Who Led the Colonies to War by Les Standiford

Embroidered Memories:  375 Embroidery Designs, 2 Alphabets, 13 Basic Stitches for Crazy Quilts, Clothing, Accessories by Brian Haggard

Geek Mom: Projects, Tips and Adventures for Moms and Their 21st Century Families by Natania Barron, et al.

Jerusalem: The Illustrated History of the Holy City by Joseph Millis

The Pro Football Hall of Fame 50th Anniversary Book by Joe Horrigan

The Superhero Book: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Comic-Book Icons and Hollywood Heroes by Gina Misiroglu

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham

Upstairs and Downstairs: The Illustrated Guide to the Real World of Downton Abbey by Sarah Warwick

Recommended by Jean Ross, Associate Director for Materials Management, Prince William Public Library System

Coffee table books for adults

Royal Cities of the Ancient Maya by Michael D. Coe – In words and photos, traces the rise and fall of the great Mayan civilization.

Flag by Victor Friedman – Award-winning photojournalist shows us visually what our flag means to us.

Children and Young Adults (new books by popular authors)

If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numerof – The popular author of the “If You Give…” series  has a book just for Dog who first appeared in If you Give a Pig a Party.

The Fairy Doll and Other Tales from the Doll’s House by Rummer Godden – A collection of distinguished author Rummer Godden’s stories about dolls.

Son by Lois Lowry – The latest book in her Giver Quartet.

Popular adult reading

The Forgotten by David Baldacci – Another suspenseful novel by thisVirginia author.

Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling – The Harry Potter author tries her hand at an adult novel.

The Christmas Kid by Pete Hamill – A collection of short stories by this well-known author, and one sure to stir up some nostalgia.

The Christmas Wedding co-authored by James Patterson – A departure from his usual tough-guy thrillers.

“The Giving Quilt” by Jennifer Chaverini: the lastest in the quilting series.




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