Children’s books: consider giving a book to a child this year


Good choices include the Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess, and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

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With December – the holiday gifting season – just around the corner, many of us are scrambling to find the perfect token to let friends and family know we’re thinking of them. Books are still a great option. They come in a variety of sizes and subjects; when carefully chosen, they can have incredible resistance to the recipient; and they are easy to pack. Below are a few random titles for the kids on your list. Visit your local bookstore to view these and other volumes.


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It was the night before Christmas

By Clément C. Moore

Illustrated by PJ Lynch

Candlewick Press

For all ages

In my family, reading aloud the poem by Clement C. Moore, A Visit from St. Nicholas, was part of our annual holiday tradition. Available in many editions by various illustrators, our copy was a Hallmark pop-up book and my sons took turns pulling out their favorite tab – the one that had Santa Claus “resting his finger to the side of his nose, / And nodding. his head, in the fireplace he stood up. “They loved to see him appear out of the frame of the book!

This year, PJ Lynch of Dublin is bringing us a new illustrated version of Moore’s beloved poem and while it lacks whimsical pop-up images, it is rich in evocative paintings that reflect the era in which words have been written. (Originally published anonymously in the 1820s, Moore claimed ownership of the print in 1844, although scholars today are inclined to attribute the poem to Henry Livingstone Jr.)

It fell from the sky

Written and illustrated by the Fan Brothers

Simon & Schuster

4 to 8 years

Terry and Eric Fan of Toronto, brothers who co-created The Night Gardener in 2016, have once again joined forces to produce a brand new picture book that has already been acclaimed internationally as one of the best illustrated children’s books. from the New York Times / New York Public Library. 2021 books.

“It fell from the sky on a Thursday,” the book begins, with a two-page black-and-white illustration of a garden in which the only piece of color is a single marble in the grass. Insects and creatures inhabiting the garden, never having seen marble before, try to figure out what this mysterious object is – but to no avail.


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A sneaky, selfish spider weaves a web behind it, claiming the object as its own, and charges all comers a fee to view the mysterious object – until one day a child’s hand bends down to pick up marble and win.

What follows is a bit abrupt and hard to believe, but opens the book color wise. The illustrations, especially in black and white, are beautifully detailed and compelling, and the story will grab the attention of any preschooler. Combine this book with a jar of colorful marbles and you have got a gift for art and marble lovers of all ages.

The little wooden robot and the log princess

Written and illustrated by Tom Gauld

Neal Porter Books / Vacation Home

4 to 8 years

Tom Gauld, a British cartoonist whose work appears weekly in The Guardian, has several graphic novels to his credit, but this marks his first foray into children’s literature. The result is an old-fashioned fairy tale with decidedly new twists.

It is the story of a king and a queen who desperately wanted children. One night, “the king went to see the royal inventor, and the queen went to see an intelligent old witch who lived in the woods.” They wanted a child, and both got their wish. The inventor built “a wonderful little intricate wooden robot” and the witch used magic to transform a log into “a perfect little log princess”.

There was only one problem; every night when she fell asleep, the log princess would turn back to a log and needed her brother to say the magic words to wake her up and turn her into a princess. Everything went well until the day the robot forgot to wake up its sister. By the time he realized his mistake, she had been thrown out the window and found herself on a barge with hundreds of other logs.


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The story that follows is one of brotherly love, grueling adventures, the kindness of strangers, and the ingenuity of a family of beetles. In the end, “they all lived happily ever after.” And Gauld’s distinctive art earned him a spot on the NYT / NY Public Library’s list of the best illustrated children’s books of 2021.

With the exception of the Harry Potter books a few years ago, I normally don’t highlight more than the opening book of a series. But Amy Timberlake’s Skunk and Badger book, which I had withheld for ages eight to 88, saw me go through months of isolation last year and I would be remiss if I did not urge you to consult book 2 of the series: Egg Marks the spot (HarperCollins). Like its predecessor, it is intelligent, entertaining and illustrated by Canadian artist Jon Klassen.

– Bernie Goedhart



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