30 November 2017

6 Books for Young Readers on Your Holiday Gift List

When shopping for the younger people on your list, don't forget books, which make lasting gifts that never go old and offer a lifetime of entertainment and education. As proof, I feature two beautiful editions of classic tales, newly packaged for modern readers. For kids who like true stories, I suggest four books that will inspire their futures and expand their horizons.

Classic Tales in New Clothes

Penguin Classics: Anne of Green Gables by L. M. MontgomeryThrow the words Prince Edward Island into any conversation and I guarantee the instant response will reference Anne with an E, otherwise known as Anne of Green Gables, brought to life by PEI native L. M. Montgomery 100 years ago. This new Penguin Classic edition (2017) has a modern, colorful cover designed by artist Siobhan Gallagher, showing Anne with her red hair, the fields of Avonlea, and recognizable icons and familiar quotes from the novel. Besides the complete text of the beloved story, this beautiful deckle-edged edition includes a foreword by best-selling author J. Courtney Sullivan, an introduction by scholar Benjamin Lefebvre, selections for further reading, and a short additional piece by Montgomery. This would make a treasured gift for any Anne Shirley fan, young or old.

Rosemary Sutcliff's Black Ships before TroyMany young readers are fascinated with mythology from different cultures and traditions around the world. Some stories, such as Homer's Illiad, can be difficult to access, even for adult readers. Rosemary Sutcliff's Black Ships before Troy (Frances Lincoln, reissued 2017), takes the mystery away without losing the wonder and magic. This prose version of the Iliad is written with children in mind but is not a childish version of the tale. The language is poetic and follows the original story from Peleus's wedding to end of the battle, with Troy in ruins and Helen boarding a ship to return to Greece. This edition is beautifully illustrated by Alan Lee, winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal. The full-color drawings enliven the classic tale, showing action, emotion, and period details. This lovely book belongs on every family bookshelf.

Books for Curious Readers Young and Old

David Long's Survivors: Extraordinary Tales from the Wild and BeyondIs there an age limit to being fascinated by true-life survival stories? I think not. David Long's Survivors: Extraordinary Tales from the Wild and Beyond (Faber & Faber, 2017) is chock-full of stories of people going to the limits to overcome unbelievable odds and walk away from death's door. Long introduces us to adventurers of the past like Hugh Glass and Ernest Shackleton and to Johann Westhauser, a German caver whose brush with death took place only a few years ago. Other stories involve plane crashes, avalanches, shipwrecks, sporting accidents, and more and occur in countries around the world. Each tale is illustrated by Kerry Hyndman, whose drawings evoke the environmental and other hazards faced by the hero. These inspiring and exciting stories will appeal to a range of young readers. The book won a Blue Peter Book Award.

HMH Books for Young Readers has several excellent series for young readers who are into science and history. The first two books featured here were released in paperback this year and all three books represent my own interests. If your young reader has different scholarly leanings, then be sure to check out HMH's catalog to find the perfect book for your child.

  • Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled by Catherine ThimmeshScaly Spotted Feathered Frilled: How Do We Know What Dinosaurs Really Looked Like? by award-winning author Catherine Thimmesh brings us up to date on the latest in a tricky aspect of dinosaur research. Although fun to read and amply illustrated, this book presents the science of how paleontologists have figured out what dinosaurs looked like. Thimmesh describes the process from fossil to habitat, locomotion, and environment. In addition, she talks about the problem of deciding on color and the level of speculation. Fascinating reading for the whole family.
  • Bodies from the Ash by James M. DeemBodies from the Ash: Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii by James M. Deem. Anyone who's heard the story of Pompeii and how the ashes and lava seemed to preserve a moment of ancient time will love this book, which summarizes archaeological research of the town over about 100 years, starting in the 1880s. The drawings and photographs capture our imaginations, and the text explains how scientists were able to make casts of the victims and how they interpreted the data to try to reconstruct details of daily life at the time of the eruption, including what some of the people were eating before they were overcome by the volcano's outpouring. Hours of reading for any budding archaeologist.
  • Life on Surtsey by Loree Griffin BurnsLife on Surtsey: Iceland's Upstart Island by Loree Griffin Burns is a new entry in HMH's fantastic Scientists in the Field Series. In this book, Burns takes us to what may be the newest land formation on earth, a volcanic island that formed off the coast of Iceland in 1963, where we meet Erling Olafsson, who has studied "the arrival and survival of insects" on the island since 1970. This beautiful book, complete with maps and photographs, gives us a realistic idea of what it's like to be an entomologist conducting research in a unique environment. The text and photos help us understand Erling's daily research routines and living conditions and how he shares resources with other scientists on the island working in different fields of inquiry. The book ends with a glossary and list of additional sources. Perfect for armchair travelers and scientists as well as young people dreaming of making their own great discoveries.


rhapsodyinbooks 11/30/17, 6:50 AM  

Lately I'm feeling like reading Anne of Green Gables again, just to escape from real life!

sherry fundin 11/30/17, 8:52 AM  

A nice variety to choose from.
sherry @ fundinmental

bermudaonion 11/30/17, 8:53 AM  

I love the new cover of Anne of Green Gables!

Les in Oregon 11/30/17, 3:34 PM  

I have my childhood copy of Anne of Green Gables (early 60's) and the cover is long gone. This new edition looks much nicer than my boring brown copy! I am due to reread it in 2018, so maybe I'll have to treat myself to a new edition.

Stacie 12/3/17, 6:13 PM  

That new cover of Anne of Green Gables is so fun!

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