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Go Ask Mom

Searching for holiday gifts? Quail Ridge makes more book picks for tots to teens

Posted December 1, 2011

At my house, Santa, along with parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles, give a lot of books. We're a family of readers. And both my daughters, ages 2 and 6, will sit, flipping through stacks of them, in a single sitting.

In fact, we have duplicates of some books and I encourage it. I often tell grandparents, aunts and uncles to give the same classic book to my younger daughter, complete with a special note to her, that they gave to my older one. That way, when she's on her own, she has a great library of books to start life with ... and maybe even share with her own kids some day.

And while we have lots of classics at our house, I'm always on the look out for new books too. Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh offered some holiday book recommendations the other day. Today, the children's staff offers up some more recommendations that are great for gifts and to read all year.

They've broken their picks up in five categories - pictures books, chapter books, books for teens, non-fiction and board books - and offered some handy age recommendations too.

Here are their picks, straight from Quail Ridge Books:

Picture Books

  • Grandpa Green – Lane Smith (Roaring Brook $16.99). Smith celebrates gardens, family, a life well lived, and – of course – love. Here, the Caldecott Honor recipient strikes the right balance between whimsy and tenderness. Ages 3 and up.
  • Otis & The Tornado – Long (Penguin $17.99). Kindly Otis the tractor is back, along with Calf and other animals. But all is not peaceful on the farm. What's to be done about bully Bull? Long uses color wonderfully to highlight Otis or the bull against a neutral background. Ages 4 and up.
  • King Jack & The Dragon – Bentley (Penguin). With friends, imagination, & a big box, boys take on beasts and mighty dragons. But what's that THING coming in the dark?! With rhyme and Helen Oxenbury's exquisite illustrations, this is the perfect book for active little boys. Ages 3 and up.
  • Zoozical – Judy Sierra, illustrator Marc Brown (Knopf $17.99 ). Winter cuts down zoo attendance, so the bored animals are inspired to put on a show. Who better for hip-hop than a hippo and kangaroo? The rhyming & singing sequel to Wild About Books. Ages 4 and up.
  • The Bippolo Seed & Other Lost Stories – Dr. Seuss (Random House $15). Long lost Dr. Seuss stories from 60 years ago have been rediscovered and published in a book for the first time! Delight in seven 'new' tales filled with the unmistakable rhythm and rhymes of the Dr. An absolute treasure for ages 6 and WAY up!!
  • Family Storybook Treasury – (Houghton Mifflin $18.99). A book-CD combo for the whole family! 16 classic stories and poems, including 8 complete picture books in one spot (including favorites like Sheep in a Jeep, Mike Mulligan, and more). Ages 6 and up.
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – Jerry Pinkney (Little Brown $16.99). In elaborate yet intimate watercolors, the Caldecott Medalist sends an inquisitive little chipmunk on a voyage into the stars. A beautiful sendoff for bedtime. Ages 3 and up.
  • Mouse & Lion – Rand Burkert, illustrator Nancy Burkert (diCapua $17.95). Mother and son combine talents to create a briskly told and gracefully illustrated version of the Aesop's Fable. Nancy Burkert cleverly uses pale blue spreads to denote past and future events. Ages 3 and up.
  • Bear's Loose Tooth – Karma Wilson, illustrator Jane Chapman (McElderry $16.99). Beloved Bear and his friends return in a reassuring, rhyming tale of friendship as Bear deals with his first loose tooth. Ages 3 and up.
  • Stars – Mary Lyn Ray, illustrator Marla Frazee (Beach Lane $16.99). A poetic and evocative look at the wonders of stars, from a child's perspective. What would YOU do if you had a star of your own? Perfect for a soothing nighttime read. Ages 3 and up.

Chapter Books

  • The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale – Carmen Deedy (Peachtree $16.95). A jaunty cat with a deep secret seeks shelter at an inn known for its cheeses, and frequented by Charles Dickens. When he and a mouse with secrets of his own join forces, they just may save England – and help create a famed work of fiction . It's a Victorian Gooseberry Park! Ages 9 and up.
  • Secrets At Sea – Richard Peck (Dial $16.99). Newbery Medalist Peck features trademark humor (and channels for Jane Austin) in this tale of adventure, comedy, and even romance set amidst mice sharing a 19th century trans-Atlantic voyage. Ages 8 and up.
  • Vordak The Incomprehensible: Rule the School (Egmont $13.99)
    We loved Vordak the Incomprehensible, and now Vordak - having accidentally made himself younger - must set his sights for conquest on a more child-sized objective. Cackle along as Vordak plans to Rule the School . Ages 9 and up.
  • Darth Paper Strikes Again – Tom Angleberger (Amulet $12.95). More origami – Origami Yoda, that is! Join Dwight and his friends back at McQuarrie Middle School as they fight evil. Oh, and learn how to make a cool paper Vader! Ages 9 and up.
  • The Brotherband Chronicles #1: Outcasts – John Flanagan (Philomel $18.99). A companion series to the marvelous Ranger's Apprentice books, Brotherband focuses on a band of outcast Skandian boys battling at sea with other desperate groups. His Ranger's Apprentice Lost Stories also debuts this fall. Ages 9 and up.
  • Wonderstruck – Brian Selznick (Scholastic $29.99). Caldecott Medalist Selznick should just make room on the shelf for another. Two seemingly separate tales of a boy and a girl in different decades weave together, one in text and one told entirely in pictures. And what pictures they are! Ages 9 and up.
  • The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth 50th Anniversary Edition – Norman Juster (Knopf $29.99). The childhood classic is magnificently annotated with interviews with the author and illustrator, as well as cultural and literary references. This is one truly for adults as well. Ages 9 and way up.
  • Pie – Sarah Weeks (Scholastic $16.99). Alice finds herself thrust into the world of fierce pie baking competition when her late aunt bequeaths Alice her obnoxious cat – who just may know her super secret pie crust recipe. In the midst of frenzied friends and family, Alice may just strike on what really matters. Ages 9 and up.
  • Ghosts of the Carolinas For Kids – Terrance Zepke (Pineapple $9.95). 16 spooky tales from across North & South Carolina – a ghost train, pirates, haunted schools, & more. Ages 9 and up.
  • Wildwood – Colin Meloy (Harper Collins $17.99). Danger, adventure – it's a cry back to classic children's adventures, with wonderful, whimsical illustrations. Ages 10 and up.

Books for Teens

  • The Apothecary – Maile Meloy (Putnam $16.99). New to London circa 1952, Janie never expects to get involved with a sacred text, secret potions experiments, and Russian spies while trying to avert nuclear destruction. Ages 12 and up.
  • Dead End In Norvelt – Jack Gantos (FSG $15.99). Funny and wild, Dead End is an intriguing mix of memoir and fiction, as we're drawn into the memorable summer of a young Jack Gantos. Ages 12 and up.
  • Goliath – Scott Westerfeld (Pulse $19.99). The alternate WWI battle epic in the steampunk tradition concludes. Crown prince Alek discovers Deryn's secrets, and they must decide whether an eccentric inventor who claims his Goliath weapon can end the war is telling the truth. Illustrations add to the atmosphere. Ages 12 and up.
  • Inheritance – Christopher Paolini (Knopf $27.99). In the long-awaited conclusion to the Inheritance cycle, Eragon and Saphira must gird themselves for the climactic battle that will save or destroy their civilization. Ages 12 and up.
  • Steampunk Short Stories – Kelly Link (Candlewick $22.99). In a major steampunk collection, 14 famed authors take us into worlds of automatons, engines, and devices that never were. Fantasy, sci fi, and horror merge together. Ages 15 and up.


  • Heart & Soul – Kadir Nelson (Harper Collins $19.99). Exquisitely illustrated, Nelson tackles the long and difficult history of African-Americans in America and succeeds brilliantly (and optimistically). Ages 9 and up.
  • It's Snowing – Gail Gibbons (Holiday House $17.95). The queen of non-fiction for young readers has the perfect seasonal book – the real deal on snow, how it forms, the mystery of snowflakes, and more. Ages 5 and up.
  • Treasury of Greek Mythology – Donna Jo Napoli (Nat. Geographic $24.95). A sumptuous retelling of Greek myths of heroes, gods, and monsters, with a wealth of detail. Ages 9 and up.
  • Just A Second – Steve Jenkins (HMH $16.99). You'll never think about time the same way. What can happen in a second? An hour? A month? The Caldecott illustrator takes us on a marvelous tour through nature. Ages 6 and up.
  • If You Lived Here – Giles Laroche (Houghton Mifflin $16.99). The paper collage expert inventively shows how people live differently around the world now and in the past. Ages 7 and up.
  • Nature Adventures – Manning (PGW). Part guidebook, part sketchpad, part diary, young children will be inspired to enter the natural world wholeheartedly! Ages 7 and up.

Board Books

  • It's A Little Book – Lane Smith (Roaring Brook $7.99). Smith adapts his own picture book for older children, It's a Book, for a younger audience. Yay, books! Ages 1 and up.
  • Little Blue Truck Leads The Way – Alice Schertle (Houghton Mifflin $6.99). In a jam? Little Blue Truck is one you want on your side. Bright lights and a big city can't stop this little guy from being helpful. Ages 2 and up.
  • Little North Carolina - Carol Crane (Gale $9.95). It's never too soon to learn about your state. Rhyming riddle fun simplifies the Tweetsie Railroad, Outer Banks, and more. Ages 2 and up.
  • The House In The Night – Susan Swanson (Houghton Mifflin $7.99). The Caldecott Medal winner uses bright light selectively and superbly in this gentle, reassuring bedtime book. With its pattern of objects, it'll take a place next to Goodnight Moon. Ages 2 and up.
  • Moo – Matthew Vanfleet (S&S $16.99). It's the perfect tour of the barnyard for toddlers! Super-sturdy pull tabs, touch & feel, pop-ups, and even a squeaker highlight this introduction to farm animals. Fantastic! Ages 2 and up.

Quail Ridge Books & Music is located at 3522 Wade Ave. in Raleigh.

For more holiday gift ideas, activities, events, crafts and more, go to the Go Ask Mom Holiday Page.


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