Best Christmas-Themed Books

Our Favourites

Best Christmas-Themed Books

Welcome back to our series of posts all about our favourite books for children designed to give you some gift ideas for the holiday season. In our previous posts we covered our favourite board books for infants and toddlers, our favourite picture books for kids, our favourite chapter books for beginning readers, and our favourite novels for middle grade readers and teens. This time around we will focus on a few of our favourite Christmas-themed books.

"The Night Before Christmas" by Clement C. Moore & Niroot Puttapipat (Candlewick Press, 2007)
There are countless picture book versions of this classic tale and this is one of our favourites. With the absolutely beautiful silhouette illustrations by Puttapipat, along with cut outs and an elaborate pop-up of Santa's sleigh flying over the tops of the houses, this book must be seen in person to be appreciated!

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" by Laurel Long (Penguin Group, 2011)
This is a brand new release this holiday season and it is an absolutely gorgeous picture book version of the classic song. Full of detailed and beautiful illustrations along with many hidden images, you will spend many evenings before Christmas examining each page with your kids.

"The Christmas Magic" by Lauren Thompson & Jon J. Muth (Scholastic, 2009)
In contrast to most frantic and busy tales about Santa Claus, "The Christmas Magic" is quiet and calm. It shows us Santa preparing for the big night: feeding his reindeer, packing his toy sack, and waiting for the magic of Christmas to arrive and send him on his way. This is a simple, subdued story that perfectly captures the true spirit of Santa Claus. As you may know, Jon J. Muth is one of our favourite artists and he once again portrays the mood of the story perfectly in the illustrations.

"The Longest Christmas List Ever" by Gregg & Evan Spiridellis (Hyperion Books, 2007)
This is the one we've added to our personal Christmas book library this year. When Trevor forgets to put the most important request on his list to Santa one year, he immediately gets to work on next year's list so he won't leave anything out. He works all year on the list, adding countless items until it is so long that it will cost six trillion dollars to mail to Santa! Will he not get what he wants for a second year in a row or will he learn a lesson about the magic of Christmas? With great rhyming text and incredible illustrations, this is perfect if you are looking for a funny Christmas book.

"Auntie Claus" by Elise Primavera (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999)
Sophie's Aunt loves Christmas more than anyone she knows. Strangely however, her Aunt goes on a "business trip" every year just before Christmas and doesn't come back until Valentine's Day. Determined to discover her secret, Sophie follows her and finds herself in the middle of a Christmas adventure. Another wonderful story with gorgeous illustrations and a good lesson about the true spirit of Christmas. Followed by the sequel "Auntie Claus and the Key to Christmas".

"The Santa Trap" by Jonathan Emmett & Poly Bernatene (MacMillan UK, 2009)
This Christmas tale is full of dark humour and is definitely only appropriate for older children. Bradley Bartelby is a bad kid. A very bad kid. So bad that Santa only gives him a pair of socks for Christmas. Determined to get revenge, Bradley fills the house with all sorts of deadly traps to catch Santa. His plan soon backfires however, as he accidentally sets off one trap after the other himself. Hilarious and full of great art, but also very sinister.

Happy Holidays everyone from Kate, Drew, and Emma!


Best Novels For Kids And Teens

Our Favourites

Best Novels For Kids And Teens

Welcome back to our series of posts all about our favourite books for children designed to give you some gift ideas for the holiday season. In our previous posts we covered our favourite board books for infants and toddlers, our favourite picture books for kids, and our favourite chapter books for beginning readers. This time around we will focus on a few of our favourite novels for middle grade readers and a few of our favourite young adult novels for teens.

  For middle-grade readers:

"When You Reach Me" by Rebecca Stead (Random House, 2009)
Highly acclaimed and multiple award winning "When You Reach Me" (including the 2010 Newbery Medal) is required reading in our opinion. It is a unique, funny, and absolutely captivating story about a young girl named Miranda living in New York in 1979. As she deals with her day to day home life (including preparing her mother for an appearance on The $20,000 Pyramid game show) and her various friendships, she is suddenly involved in a bizarre mystery. Someone keeps leaving her strange notes that seem to predict the future and she must try to unravel the meaning behind them. Perfect for ages eight and up and definitely a book that once you pick it up, you can't put it down.

"Powerless" by Matthew Cody (Random House, 2009)
When twelve-year-old Daniel moves to a new town, he is astounded to discover that his new friends, along with every other child in town, possess super powers. Whether it's super strength, super speed, or the power of flight, Daniel enjoys discovering all the incredible things his friends can do. However, there's a dark mystery hanging over the town. When each child turns thirteen, they wake up with no powers and no memory of ever having them. Determined to help his new friends, Daniel undertakes the responsibility to find out what is happening. Part superhero adventure, part mystery, "Powerless" is a non-stop adventure for ages ten and up.

"Floors" by Patrick Carmen (Scholastic, 2011)
We already wrote a post a few months back about "Floors" and we have to mention it again it's so good! Leo and his father are both live-in maintenance workers at the Whippet Hotel. This isn't just any old hotel however but one of the craziest, zaniest hotels in existence! Designed and built by the eccentric inventor Merganzer Whippet, the hotel boasts oddly themed floors, hidden passages, roller-coaster-like elevators, and a resident family of ducks. When Merganzer Whippet disappears, Leo is sent a strange puzzle box and a quest which must be completed in only four days. Along with his new friend (the hotel bellhop Remi), adventure, riddles, and hijinks await Leo as he endeavours to unlock the mysteries of the Whippet Hotel. Full of humour, great characters, and a quickly paced narrative, "Floors" is a near to perfect novel. Aimed at ages nine and up, however it is so squeaky-clean and entertaining that you could read it to children (and adults) of any age.

The "Theodosia Throckmorton" series by R. L. LaFevers (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007 to 2011)
The "Theodosia" series is our go-to series for ages nine and up. Usually when we recommend the first book, "Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos", the customer returns and picks up the other three books in the series soon after. Almost like Indiana Jones adventures, but with a young girl, the series follows young Theodosia as she deals with various magical and cursed artifacts from Egypt that her parents have uncovered for the museum that they own in London. Captivating adventure with a lot of humour and a strong protagonist, this is one of the best series on the shelves today.

  For older teenagers:

"This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein" by Kenneth Oppel (Harper Collins, 2011)
What a great concept for a book! "This Dark Endeavour" follows the adventures of a young Victor Frankenstein (who will grow up to be the Dr. Frankenstein) as he begins his journey down the path of dark science and medicine. When his twin brother becomes ill with a rare and deadly disease, Victor begins to search out alternative medicines which leads him and his two friends on various dangerous adventures to find rare ingredients. This is an extremely compelling read with great characters and tightly woven plot, great for ages thirteen and up. When I finished reading it, my thoughts were immediately "I wish I could keep reading about this character as he gets older". Thankfully, Kenneth Oppel is hard at work on the sequel which will be released in Summer 2012.

The "Maze Runner" series by James Dashner (Random House, 2009 to 2011)
This is a fascinating series and includes "The Maze Runner", "The Scorch Trials", "The Death Cure" and the recently announced "The Kill Order" (to be released in Summer 2012). It begins by focusing on a group of kids who wake up in a massive maze with no memory of who they are and no knowledge about why they are there. Every day they send "runners" out in to the maze to map it and try to discover the exit. Only there are two problems: the maze changes every night and it's filled with horrific grotesque monsters. Once you've reached the resolution of the first book, the revelations about where the series is about to go makes you immediately want to start reading the second book in the series. Fast paced, thrilling, scary, and intense, this series is perfect for teens who love dystopian fiction and video games.

Stay tuned for our upcoming posts where we will cover some of our favourite Christmas-themed books.

Now go read a book with your kids...


Best Early Chapter Books

Our Favourites

Best Early Chapter Books

Welcome back to our series of posts all about our favourite books for children designed to give you some gift ideas for the holiday season. In our previous posts we covered our favourite board books for infants and toddlers and our favourite picture books for kids. This time around we will focus on our favourite chapter books for beginner readers.

There are many, many series out there aimed at the early elementary-aged beginner readers. Unfortunately, while many of them appeal to children, they aren't written particularly well (we're looking at you Rainbow Magic Fairies). So here are some of our favourite early chapter books that are both fun and well written at the same time.

The "Dodsworth" series by Tim Egan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007 to 2011)
These are some of our favourite books for emerging readers. Part picture book, part chapter book, each entry in the series follows the little bear Dodsworth and his troublesome companion duck on their world travels. Including the titles "Dodsworth in New York", "Dodsworth in Paris", "Dodsworth in London" and the newest release "Dodsworth in Rome," these are the perfect books to introduce chapter books to your young reader.


The "Clementine" series by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee (Hyperion, 2006 to 2011)
Including the titles "Clementine," "The Talented Clementine," "Clementine, Friend of the Week," "Clementine's Letter," and "Clementine and the Family Meeting," this series chronicles the misadventures of the well-meaning Clementine, who seems to have trouble follow her wherever she goes. These great books always deliver hilarious stories that make you smile, while presenting well-rounded characters and great lessons in family and friendship. Perfect for fans of "Judy Moody" or “Ramona Quimby."


The "Time Warp Trio" series by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith and Adam McCauley (Puffin Books, 1991 to 2006)
Written by Jon Scieszka, one of the best children's book authors working today, the Time Warp Trio series is smart, funny, and full of adventure. Using a magical book, three young boys, Fred, Sam, and Joe, travel to different time periods in each instalment in the series. Whether it's during the time of Cavemen, Ancient Greece, or in the far future, the three boys always take on the challenges of the particular time using their current day knowledge and know-how. Perfect for kids who love adventure and have a good sense of humour.


The "Daisy Dawson" series by Steve Voake, illustrated by Jessica Meserve (Candlewick Press, 2008 to 2011)
You can't get any sweeter, cuter, or happier than the Daisy Dawson books by Steve Voake. Including the titles "Daisy Dawson is on Her Way," "Daisy Dawson and the Secret Pond," and "Daisy Dawson and the Big Freeze," and "Daisy Dawson at the Beach," these books follow the adventures of a young girl who is gifted with the ability to talk with animals. Squeaky-clean and wholesome, these books are a safe bet for any young reader. As a bonus, each book is full of adorable illustrations by one of our favourite children's book artists Jessica Meserve.


The "Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist" series by R. L. LaFevers, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009 to 2011)
Including the titles "Flight of the Phoenix," "The Basilisk's Lair," "The Wyvern's Treasure," and "The Unicorn's Tale," this is a wonderful fantasy adventure series for ages 8 and up. When Nathaniel Fludd's parents disappear, he is sent to be in the care of his distant relative Aunt Phil. He soon finds himself training in the family business, becoming a "Beastologist" and tracking down all sorts of mythical creatures. R. L. LaFevers is one of our favourite authors (see her "Theodosia Throckmorton" series for middle-grade readers) and kids are sure to love the adventure found in this series.


Marty McGuire by Kate Messner, illustrated by Brian Floca (Scholastic, 2011)
This is the first book in a what will prove to be an amazing series if the subsequent books carry as much charm and fun as this first instalment does (the second book will be out in 2012). It follows Marty McGuire, a spirited girl in grade three who would rather dig in the dirt and splash around in the pond catching frogs than play dress-up or other girly pursuits. When her class prepares a rendition of the "Frog Prince" as a school play, Marty is cast as the princess much to her horror.

Stay tuned for our upcoming posts where we will cover novels for middle-grade readers and young adults and some of our favourite Christmas-themed books.

Now go read a book with your kids...