Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Holiday Gift-Giving for Children/Teens

Buying books for young children through those teen years can be challenging at best.  So...here's some suggestions from my 2016 reading list that I would recommend:
My Sister Rosa By Justine Larbalestier
Teenage boy with ten year old sociopathic sister - thriller, well-written, does have some profanity/sex, though not graphic details
A Shadow Bright and Burning By Jessica Cluess
If the child liked Harry Potter, here's the start of a new series for him/her - magicians in training, scary bad people, exciting plot, no sex/no profanity
An Ember in the Ashes (#1)/A Torch Against the Night (#2) By Sabaa Tahir
Great fantasy series with a trio of teens fighting some creepy spirits, female leads continue to get stronger as series goes on, great thrillers, no sex/no profanity
Six of Crows (#1)/Crooked Kingdom (#2) By Leigh Bardugo
Game of Throne (lite) meets Ocean's Eleven - favorite fantasy series for me, great mix of characters, exciting not scary, no sex/no profanity
Harry Potter and The Cursed Child By J.K. Rowling
Welcome back to the world of HP - well worth the trip!
Scythe(#1) By Neal Shusterman
Intense story of futuristic world for people who get to live multiple lives, yet some must be 'gleaned', new series, no sex, no profanity, lots of blood and violence but a real page-turner
Wolf By Wolf (#1)/Blood for Blood (#2) By Ryan Gaudin
Story of WWII is flipped with the Axis powers winning, powerful trio of teens as the lead, some fantasy in the idea of a skin-shifter, creative use of history, no profanity/minimal romance
Stealing Snow By Danielle Paige
Fantsy story of how the Snow Queen came to be, both exciting and humorous, no sex/no profanity
Heartless By Marissa Meyer
Author of the popular Lunar Chronicles, a new stand-alone about how the Queen of Hearts in Wonderland came to be so diabolical, fantastic fantasy, no sex/no profanity
The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold, #1): By Traci Chee
Fabulous new fantasy series wherein books and literature have disappeared from the world, yet one young girl holds the key.  Exciting page turner, no profanity/no sex
A Tyranny of Petticoats: By Jessica Spotswood
For every girl out there who still has big dreams, this is a collection of short stories by well-known female authors, that showcases strong female characters, no sex/no profanity/nice mix of history
Girl in the Blue Coat: By Monica Hesse
Story of the Holocaust in 1940's Amsterdam, conflicted female lead who gets pulled into the Resistance, well-researched historical fiction, no sex/no profanity
The Lie Tree:  By Frances Hardings
Scary gothic tale of an evil tree that listens to secrets and a young teenage girl whose family becomes enmeshed in its darkness, no sex/no profanity
If I Was Your Girl: By Meredith Russo
Powerful fiction story of a trangender teen who attempts to fit in at a new high school after her gender re-assignment surgery, powerful story that shows life can indeed get better, references to sex for obvious reasons
Jackaby (#1):  By William Ritter
Detective series from the turn of the century where the lead detective can see and talk to the spirits, strong female side-kick, no sex/no profanity
Shadow and Bone(#1), Siege and Storm(#2), Ruin and Rising(#3):  By Leigh Bardugo
Powerful fantasy series with smart, strong female/male leads, very scary bad guy, incredible cast of supporting characters, exciting page-turner, some romance/no profanity, I read all three books in just five days (it's obsessively good!)
Seraphina(#1):  By Rachel Hartman
Thought provoking fantasy story of a world where dragons are discriminated against and must disguise themselves in human shape, yet what happens when there is a 'bi-racial' dragon/human? No sex, a little romance, no profanity
The Walled City:  By Ryan Gaudin
Powerful story of a city where the criminals rule, strong female/male leads, thriller, page-turner, some sex due to the issues of sex trafficking, no profanity
Belzhar:  By Meg Wolitzer
Fictional story of a boarding school for students with 'issues,' some magical realism with a journal that takes them back in time, some romance
Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family: By Amy Ellis Nutt
Incredible true story of a young transgender woman, who fought the Maine legislature for her rights, and a breathtaking transformation of her family and how they become Nicole's champions.  References to biological sex and gender identity, for obvious reasons / no profanity

(Notes on appropriateness is for both reading level/subject - all of these can be good read-alouds for struggling readers)
Echo: By Pam Munoz Ryan
Beautiful book with three story lines from the 1930-1940's, heroic, tough, smart children, and a magical harmonica that connects them all / thick book but big margins, appropriate for grades three and up
When Friendship Followed Me Home By Paul Griffin
Beautiful story of a friendship between a young boy with a tough life and a girl battling cancer, plus the coolest dog ever / appropriate for grades five and up
One Half From the East By Nadia Hashimi
Powerful story of Afghanistan and the tradition of dressing girls like boy, thoughtfully written but does bring up some tough topics, like the treatment of women and the privileges of the male gender, appropriate for grades four and up
Gertie's Leap to Greatness By Kate Beasley
Funny, heart-warming, sad, complicated - this is Gertie's life.  Fabulous read for grades three and up.
Circus Mirandus By Cassie Beasley
Beautiful fantasy story of a young boy who must save his grandfather by finding the magical circus who promised grandpa a miracle / female friend who helps the boy is strong, smart, and totally a boss, appropriate for grades three and up
Furthermore: By Tahereh Mafi
New fantasy book about a young girl whose magical skills are unclear, but who must save her father in the world he disappeared into long ago / pieces of many of the children's classics over the last hundred years, beautifully written, appropriate for grades four and up
Hour of the Bees: By Lindsay Eagar
Sad but powerful story of a family trying to help their grandfather move to assisted living after grandma dies, surrealism with the presence of bees and the magic that they bring, appropriate for grades three and up
Wolf Hollow: By Lauren Wolk
Rather dark story of friendship and bullies in the Appalachian mountains, critically acclaimed, appropriate for grades five and up
The War That Saved My Life: By Kimberly Bradly
Wonderful historical fiction about a young girl with a club foot who is moved to the countryside during the London Blitz / heartbreaking at times with a wicked mom but some beautiful heroic and human moments, appropriate for grades four and up
Some Writer:  By Melissa Sweet
Wonderful mix of graphics with letters, drawings, pictures, and words to tell the story of E.B. White and how his three children's books (Charlotte's Web, The Trumpet of the Swan, and Stuart Little) were born, appropriate for grades three and up and wonderful gift to give that elementary school teacher in your life
Pax:  By Sara Pennypacker
This book reminded me so much of Where the Red Fern Grows / heartbreaking story of a young boy and his fox, themes of war, appropriate for grades three and up
Towers Falling:  By Jewell Parker Rhodes
Fantastic story of how a fifth grade teacher in Brooklyn teaches his students about Sept. 11, 2001 / trio of smart, complex, multicultural lead characters who go on a trip of discovery, appropriate for grades three and up

(There are SO many, but these were my three favorite 'go-to' books)
A Dog Wearing Shoes by Sangmi Ko
Black and white illustrations that are SO cool, wonderful story of a girl 'adopting' a dog, some words but not overly much, appropriate for age 3 and up
School's First Day of School by Adam Rex, Christian Robinson
The first day of school as told by the school itself, deals thoughtfully with fears of schools and all the new things kids see there, appropriate and perfect for pre-school through second grade
Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, Christian Robinson
My favorite picture book, a story of a French bulldog puppy who was accidentally switched and is being raised by a French poodle family, wonderful themes of family and who 'fits,' appropriate for ages two and up
Thunder Boy Junior by Sheman Alexie (yes, the author of many adult books and YA), Yuyi Morales
Heartwarming story of a young Native boy who needs and wants his own name for his own identity, embraces his Native heritage, wonderful big colorful illustrations, appropriate for ages two and up

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