Monday, December 10, 2018

2018 - Tammy’s & Paula’s Annual Gift Book Bonanza

It’s that time of year again, Folks.  Paula and I have compiled a list of recommendations to make book  buying a breeze, this holiday season.  So, whether you’re looking for winter wonderland tales, festive fantasies, rabble rousing reads, mirthful myths, nasty narratives or creative crafts we’ve got something for everyone.

Just like the list from past years, all the books have been linked to the Chapters/Indigo bookstore website. After spending a few hours (6 Tammy - it was six hours) pursuing their shelves with a holiday-themed drink in hand, we came up with this list of books which we know you can purchase.  With the recent postal service disruptions, there’s no guarantee that ordering online will get your selections to you in a timely manner. It’s back to the way things use to be for our forefathers and foremothers (would that be forepersons? Hmm….) where you have to go to the store and deal with packs of panicked, frazzled folks looking to buy something for hard-to-buy Uncle Harold. Let the good times roll!!

Tis’ the season, after all.

The list will be released over three days.  Up first, are books for the youngest readers with a fantastic selection of picture books to peruse. The second part of the list will be for ages 9 to 12 with books for teenagers coming last including novels and nonfiction books.

So, without further ado…

(Psst - keep scrolling down if you want to see recommendations for ages 5 to 8.)


Adulting Audits, Albums and Aspirations

Here we are on Day 3 of this lengthy list of great reads.  Today, we feature books for those young adults in your house who are in high school or on the cusp of adulting, a new term meaning taking on the responsibilities of an adult, a metaphorical testing of the waters.  Cookbooks (a main survival skill), adventures, real and imagined, hockey stories, social media influencers and celebrities make up this diverse and long list of suggestions.  We are sure you will find something for your teen.  And as we wind up the 2018 list, let us also wish you and yours a wonderfully peaceful holiday season that includes a little time for some reading of your own.

Funny side of life…

Books that have a little levity, I think make the best gifts especially if you're not sure about the tastes and interests of the reader you're buying for. The select titles in the list below all look to be humorous or at least witty.  That should earn you a few brownie points for effort, right?

*Nonfiction  * Internet celebrity  *Trivia  *Personal musings  *Humour
*Novel  *Contemporary   *LGBTQ   *Humour

I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski
*Novel  *Contemporary  *Travel  *Friendship  *Romance

*Novel  *Contemporary  *Humour  *Romance

Keepin’ it Real…

These are all contemporary stories reflecting young folks struggling to figure out who they are and how they fit into their world.

Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones
*Novel  *Indigenous characters  *Identity  *LGBTQ  *Grief

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
*Novel  *Contemporary  *Urban Black cultre  *Amazing story!  *Interesting storytelling!!  *Ghosts

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera
*Novel  *LGBTQ  *Romance  *New York  *Contemporary  *Witty

Looking Back

We only have three books for this category and they all feature female protagonists. I though, "Hmm. What did we miss?" and went looking to see about books for guys. Not a lot of new titles out there, folks. I even found a blog which said the same thing. Let's hope next year there's a better crop of historical novels for this age group.

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
*Novel  *Historical  *World War II

*Novel  *Sequel  *Historical  *Gender issues

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy
*Novel  *  Classic  *Canadian  *Dreams  *Independence

In a Land Far, Far Away…

Whether the reader you're shopping for is into fantasies feature mages, magic and epic battles or futuristic distopias or alternate realities you will find something here. The book jacket cover art for some of these books are very eye-catching and will make great gifts.

The Black Witch by Laurie Forest
*Novel  *Fantasy  *Magic  *Independence

*Novel  *Fantasy  *Magic  *Rebellion  *World building  *Great book jacket

*Novel  *Fantasy  *Stand alone in series  *Character development

Furyborn (the Empirium Trilogy, bk. 1) by Claire Legrand
*Novel  *First in series  *Fantasy  *Epic  *Romance

Impostors by Scott Westerfeld
*Novel  *Futuristic  *In series, Uglies  *Power plays

Kingdom of Ash (A Throne of Glass novel) by Sarah J. Maas
*Novel  *Fantasy  *Cool cover  *Final in series  *Female heroine

Legendary by Stephanie Garber
*Novel  *Series  *Fantasy  *Magic   *Game playing

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
*Novel  *Indigenous  *Futuristic  *Canadian  *Award winner  *Genetics

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden
*Graphic novel  *Space travel  *Love story

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
*Novel  *Fantasy  *Mages  *Backstory to series  *Relationships

A Winter’s Promise (The Mirror Visistor, bk. 1) by Christells Dabos
*Novel  * Fantasy  *First in quartet  *Great cover

Short and Snappy

Not everyone like short narratives but if you have an aspiring writer or a struggling reader this format can be inspirational in the stories themselves or inspire confidence for writers and readers.

*High school/adult crossover  *Graphic novel/comics  *Adulting  *Memoir   *Some humour

*High school  *Short stories  *Writers
Norse Mythology  by Neil Gaiman
*High school  *Mythology  *Vikings

*Gr. 7 and up  *Illustrated poems  *Natural world  *Interconnectedness  *Interesting illustrations  *Heavy on the quirky

*High school  *Short stories

 Reality Reads for the Realist – Nonfiction for high school and beyond

Not everyone curls up with a novel over the holidays.  Sometimes reality is the way to go for some readers.  Adventures, History, Celebrity Biographies and Social Media Influencers are on this list of read reads.

Alone Against the North by Adam Shoalts
*High school  *True Story  *Nature  *Adventure  * Canada  

*High School  *Fanbook    *Coffee Table

*High school/adult  *Nonfiction  *Biography  *Music  *Canada

Prince – A private view by Afshin Shahidi
*High school  *Fanbook  

*High school/adult crossover  *Nonfiction  *Science  *Natural world

*High school/adult cross-over  *Nonfiction  *Photography  *Canadian wilderness

Books with Buzz… Movie and TV Tie-ins and Social Media

We often find that readers will chase up books that connect with movies, TV shows or social media celebrities they’ve connected to and their interest has been twigged.  The following selection really does have a little something for everyone from historical romance, contemporary, gritty urban situations, steampunk fantasies, internet celebrities coaching the rest of us on fashion, Instagram and life in general. We’ve included middle grade and high school level books in this category plus a couple that are adult crossovers.

Dreaming Out Loud by Baby Ariel
*High school  *Nonfiction  *Real life (sort of)  *Web celebrity  *Memoir’ish

The Guernesy Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
*High school  *Novel  *Movie tie-in  *Historical  *Letters  *Post World War II  *Community  *Romance

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
*High school  *Novel  *Movie tie-in  *Black urban culture  *Racism  *Activism

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

*Middle grades  *Novel  *Movie tie-in  *Movie isn’t based on books  *English nanny  *Magic

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
*Middle grades  *Novel  *Movie tie-in  *Sequels are: Predator’s Gold, Infernal Devices, and Darkling Plain  *Steampunk  *Fantasy

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
*Middle grades  *Nonfiction  *Autobiography  *Family  *Animals  *TV tie-in

*High school  *TV tie-in  *Fan book  *Archie comics

Styling for Instagram by Leela Cyd

*High school  *Nonfiction  *Social media  *Photography

*High school/adult crossover  *TV tie-in  *Nonfiction *Memoir  *Actress

*High School  *Novel  *Movie-tie  *Contemporary  *Adolescence  * Romance  *First in series

World of Style by Aimee Song
*High school  *Nonfiction  *Fashion  *Photo book

Creative Cooks – Cookbooks for every age

Do you know an aspiring cook or someone in your house who needs to move out and cook for themselves?  Here are four cookbooks we found to have a variety of skill levels and good results for all to enjoy.
*Middle grades  *Nonfiction  *Cookbooks  *Teen chef  *YouTube channel

*Gr. 1-6  *Nonfiction  *Food/cooking  *Very basic recipes

*Gr. 4-8  *Nonfiction  *Food/cooking  *Pretty easy recipes

*High School  *Nonfiction  *Food/cooking  *Puns  *Humour  *Great cover art

Artsy Albums  - A book for the artist in your world

Although we have only one book in this category, we don’t want to miss it.  For the special budding artist a mixed media collection of journal pages will be a book they will spend quite of a bit of time with over the holidays.  Each journal page may spark a burst of creativity or a wonderful stash of ideas for upcoming projects.

The World of Artist Journal Pages curated by Dawn Devries Sokol
*High School  *Middle School *Mixed media journaling  *Artists   


Marvelous Middle School Missives (Okay, longer than a missive but less than a tome.)

It’s day 2 and we’ve compiled this eclectic, epic list of rollicking adventures, fantastic fantasies, and fine family fare that will cover the array of emotions that tweens experience like playing the scale on a piano.  Everyone needs a little downtime during the holidays so encourage a sip of hot chocolate, a cozy chair and a great read for some escape from the everyday drama.

Rip-Roaring Adventures

There’s nothing like an adventure to expand one’s horizons. The following selection will certainly do that.  Think Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Dr. Who and Twenty-Leagues Under the Sea and you’ll get the idea.
The Explorer by Katherine Rundell
*Novel  *Adventure  *Amazon jungle  * Survival story  *Mystery

*Novel  *Orphans  *Adventures  *Girl inventor  *Pirates  *Humour

*Novel  *Magical adventures  *Fantasy   *Travel

Voyage of the Dogs by Greg Van Eekhout
*Novel  *Dogs  *Space adventure  *Humour  *Action


Fabulous Fantasy – The Fast and the Furious

There is a huge number of fantasy choices out there and a lot of them look really good.  Paula and I had to work to narrow down this selection so it wasn’t just a list of a hundred fantasy novels for middle grade.

Beast of Stone (Wing and Claw series) by Linda Sue Park
*Novel  *Series  *Animals  *Healer 

City of Islands by Kali Wallace
*Novel  *Orphan  *Strong world building  *Undersea adventures

The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin, illustrated by Luis Royd

*Novel  * Dragons  *Girl protagonist  *War  *Original fairy tale

Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman
*Novel  *Great cover art  *Orphans  *Twins  *Orphan twins  *Magic  *Shape shifting

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel
*Novel  *Identity  *Art  *Canadian author

Ogre Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
*Novel  *Sequel  *Fairy tale

Scrap City by D.S. Thornton
*Novel  *Makers  *Robots

Stuck in the Stone Age (Story Pirates) by Geoff Rodkey
*Gr.3-7  *Novel  *Story writing manual  *Adventure  *Time travel  *Humour

*Novel  *Greek gods  *Immortal made mortal  *New York  *Series

The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown
*Gr.3-6  *Novel  *Sequel  *Robot  *Identity

Dining Room Drama for the Almost Teen

Spending time in a family with pre-teens or just teens during the holidays is fun (and sometimes either silent or very noisy).   You can experience every mood and emotion and that’s just before breakfast so a fun, family book may make your young person feel they are not alone at this time in their lives.  Angst is everywhere.

Dear Sister by Alison McGhee

*Novel  *Sibling Rivalry   *Family drama  *Humour

Ghost   :    Patina   :   Sunny   :    Lu (4 interrelated books) by Jason Reynolds
*Novels  *Series but each can stand alone  *Running  *Friendship  *Family

Midnight in the Piazza by Tiffany Parks
*Novel  *Mystery  *Rome  *Family

Very Rich by Polly Horvath
*Novel  *Odd families  *Rich people  *Poor people

You had to be there! – Funny stories for your teen-ish kid

Middle school kids seem to have their own language.  Parents often get a laugh when they use a cool word in an “uncool” way.  One way into this teen-ish world is through a good story.  Here are a few with some humour included in the price.

*Gr. 3-5  *Novel  *Humour  *Predators (misunderstood, of course)  *Dinosaurs  *Time travel

Ozy and Millie by Dana Simpson
*Novel  *Funny  *Animal story

Silent (but deadly) Night (Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder by Jo Nesbo
*Novel   *Boy appeal  *Humour

Two Dogs in a Trench Coat go to School by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Colin Jack
*Gr. 2-6  *Novel  *Humour  *Dogs  *School story  *First in series

Lost in the Past – Historical Reads for the Middle Grades

As is sometimes the way, at this time of year, we wish to visit what we think of as a “simpler” time.  By reading historical fiction, we are transported, as if by time machine, to sometime in the past to enjoy an armchair experience. 
The Fire Stallion by Stacy Gregg
*Middle grade  *Horse book  *Girl main character

Flamingo Boy by Michael Morpurgo
*War time  *Animal Story  *Middle School

The Ghost Road by Charis Cotter
*Middle grades  *Novel  *Newfoundland  *Family curse and secrets

The Night Garden by Polly Horvath
*Middle grades  *Novel  *Historical  *Canada  *World War II  *Magic

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words. So, What’s a Graphic Novel Worth?

Looking for an engaging read for your not-so-engaged reader?  Graphic novels aimed at the middle schooler may be just the answer you are looking for.  Some are colourful and action packed and these ones have great story lines.  All are part of series that may just jumpstart your middle school student to read every book.

The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy’s Big Day: a graphic novel by Gale Galligan
*Gr. 3-4  *Graphic novel  *Series  *Family  *Friends

*Graphic novel   *Mythology

Supernova (Amulet: book 8) by Kazu Kibuishi
*Graphic novels   *Sequel/series  *Fantasy/adventure

Rational Reads for the Realist – Nonfiction for the middle grader

I know, I know – the reader in your house doesn’t like dragons or rockets or dystopian worlds but sinks their teeth into Shark Week and National Geographic Documentaries.  We picked out non-fiction reads that will excite any fact finder you may know.  Biographies, constellations, artists, and a world of information … it’s all here.

*Middle grades  *Nonfiction  *History  *World War II  *United States  *Gender issues *Codebreaking

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (Young Readers Edition)
*Middle grades  *Nonfiction  *Memoirs

Pirates Magnified by David Long
*Activity book  *Middle grades and younger  *Pirates

*Canadian  *Biography *Nature  *Middle school 
*Middle grades  *Nonfiction  *Star gazing  *History  *Western focus

Sharkpedia: track, discover, explore by Margaret Parrish and Nancy Ellwood, 2nd ed.
*Middle grades  *Nonfiction  *Trivia  *Sharks

A World of Information by James Brown and Richard Platt
*Gr. 6 and up  *Nonfiction  *Trivia  *Natural world  *Human world  *Beautiful design

In a Class of Their Own  - National Geographic and DK Books

These books will appeal to everyone even the non-readers you might know.  National Geographic and Dorling Kindersley excel at producing books with amazing photos with intriguing bits of information in attractive layouts.

Animal Encyclopedia by National Geographic
*Gr.1-9   *Nonfiction  *Science  *Animals  *Amazing photos  *Browser

How Things Work Then and Now by Nat Geo Kids
*Gr.3 to 7  *Nonfiction  *Browser

Record Breakers!: More than 500 Fantastic Feats: Fastest, Biggest, Strongest by DK
*Nonfiction  *Trivia   *Human world   *Natural world

Ultimate Dino-pedia by Nat Geo Kids
*Nonfiction  *Dinosaurs  *Browser  *High interest

Ultimate Secrets Revealed by Nat Geo Kids
*Gr. 3-7  *Nonfiction  *Browser

The Ultimate Treasury of Horses  by DK
*Nonfiction  *Horses/animals  *Beautiful photos 

Weird by True! Gross by Nat Geo Kids
*Gr.2-6  *Nonfiction  *Browser  *All things yuck

Weird by True! 10: 350 Outrageous Facts by Nat Geo Kids
*Gr.2-6  *Nonfiction  *Browser  *Wide ranging trivia

Write Your Own Book by DK
*Gr.3-7  *Writing  *Activity book  *Autobiography

Keeping Busy  - Activity Books

Build Your Own Chain Reaction Machines by Paul Long
*Nonfiction  *Makers  *Simple machines  

Curious Jane by Curious Jane
*Nonfiction  *Arts and crafts  *Science experiments  *

Marvelous Makeable Monsters by Sam Haynor
*Gr.2-7  *Nonfiction  *Arts and crafts  *Making  

Science Ideas : Inventions in 30 Seconds
*Makers  *Browser

Coding is the New Black

Coding Projects in Scratch by Jon Woodcock
*Makers  *Coding

An Encyclopedia for Strategy for Fortniters: an Unofficial Guide for Battle Royale by Jason R. Rich
*Gaming  *Fortnite  *Clues and strategies

Girls Who Code: Crack the Code by Sarah Hutt
*Makers  *Coding  *Activity book


Winter Wonderland Tales

This is up first because it's seasonal and as I already said 'Tis the season, right?
Most of these are picture books geared for preschool to eight-year-olds. There are a couple of exceptions, however, novels that will appeal to kids, eight to twelve.

All Right Already!: a Snowy Story by Jory John & Benji Davies
*Picture book  *Humour  *Friends  *Animals

Bear and Chicken by Jannie Ho
*Picture book  *Winter  *Animals  *Frienship

Before Morning by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes
*Picture book  *Beautiful  *Snow day  *Retro illustrations  *Tammy’s favorite

A Boy Called Christmas series (3 volumes) by Matt Haig, illustrated by Chris Mould
*Middle grades  *Illustrated novels  *Christmas stories  *Fantasy  *Dicken-esque atmosphere

*Gr. 3-7  *Novel  *Series  *Diary format  *Winter theme  *Friendship

Erik the Lone Wolf by Sarah Finan
*Picture book  *Winter  *Family  *Animal story

Got to Get to Bear’s by Brian Lies
*Picture book  *Great illustrations  *Friendship

Small Walt; Small Walt and Mo the Tow by Elizabeth Verdick
*Picture books  *Snow plow  *Retro look 

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
*Picture book  *Classic (aka it’s been around a while)  *Board book  *Wordless  *Comic book panels  *Paula's pick

Winter is Here by Kevin Henkes
*Picture book  *Winter activities

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
*Picture book  *Winter story  *Animal story

We're All About the Holly Jolly

A good many of the picture books Paula and I were drawn to this year were funny. I'm not sure what the clerks at the book thought about us chuckling, chortling and guffawing our way up and down the aisles. Now that I think of it, one fellow kept cruising by asking if we need any help. Probably, but we didn't take him up.

Breaking News: Alien Alert by Daivd Biedrzyck
*Picture book  *Humour  *Newscast format  *Aliens (of course)

Buddy and Earl Meet the Neighbors by Maureen Fergus
*Picture book  *Humour  *Series  *Dog  *Porcupine  *Buddy story

Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel by Adam Rubin
*Picture book  *Humour  *Sequel  *Paula sqwee-d when she saw this one

A Dog Named Doug by Karma Wilson and Matt Myers
*Picture book  *Great illustrations  *Dogs  *Adventures

How to Feed Your Parents by Ryan Miller
*Picture book  *Humour  *Family  *Food  *Eating habits

The Epic Adventures of Huggie and Stick by Drew Daywalt
*Picture book  *BEST PICK for humour  *Friendship  *Diary  *Odd couple story

Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise by David Ezra Stein
*Picture book  *Humour  *Storytelling  *Parent/child

It's the Troll! by Sally Grindley
*Picture book  *Life-the-flap  *Fairy tale based

Old Hat by Emily Gravett
*Picture book  *Humour  *Fashion  *Self expression

Panda Pants by Jacqueline Davies
*Picture book  *Humour  *Animal story  *Clothes

Sleep, Sheep!  by Kerry Lyn Sparrow
*Picture book   *Humour  *Bedtime story  *Counting sheep  *Fears  *Encouragement

The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig by Steve Jenkins, Derek Walter and Caprice Crane
*Picture book  *Based on true story  *Two dads  *Pig  *Pets

Snowflakes & Unicorns – Interestingly Designed Books

Looking for something to enjoy with your wee one that has flaps or holes or things to look for?  Here is a list of some of the top books we saw for more than just reading.

 ABC: touch, think, learn by Zavier Deneux 

*Primary/Pre-School  *Picture book  *Aphabet book  *Interesting Format

Bee: A peek-through picture book by Britta Teckentrup
*Picture book  *Cut out  *Great illustrations

DinoBlock by Christopher Fanceschelli
*Board Book   *Preschool to Grade 1

Dinosaur: a photicular book by Kathy Wollard, created by Dan Kainen
 *Nonfiction  *3D 

*Grade 2  *Nonfiction  *Interactive  *Trivia  *Natural world  *Human world  *Series

Moon: A peek-through picture book by Britta Teckentrup

*Picture book  *Cut out  *Great illustrations

*Picture book  *Personification  *Animal Alphabet  


*Primary grades  *Nonfiction  *Counting  *Seek-and-find

*Screen lighting gadget  *Search and find

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening – Beautiful Picture Books

Sharing a picture book with beautiful illustrations allows you and your child an escape to a magical place or a calm and quiet lake so grab a hot chocolate and wander into new and dazzling worlds.

 Breathe by Scott Magoon

*Primary grades  *Picture book  *Beautiful illustrations  *Poetry  *Calm

In the Red Canoe by Leslie A. Davidson
*Beautiful illustrations  *Picture Book  *Outdoors  *Canadian

The Magician’s Secret by Zachary Hyman, illustrated by Joe Bluhm
*Primary grades  *Picture book  *Grandparents  *Storytelling  *Lovely illustrations  *Adventures  *Imagination

They Say Blue by Jillian Takamki
*Picture book  *Great illustrations  *Award winner

Beginning to Curl Up with a Good Read – Early Chapter Books

Having a brand new reader in the house is always exciting and whether you share the reading or your young reader finds the joy of curling up in a comfy chair by the fire with a new book, early chapters are where it's at.

Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick and David Serlin
*Grade K-3  *Mystery  *Illustrated novel  *Humour  *Graphic novel  *Early reader

Bear Country by Doreen Cronin
*Humour  *Animal story  *Beginning chapter  *Series

*Gr. 2-5  *Illustrated novel  *Humour  *Graphic novel  *Crime fighter  *Dogs  *Series

The Ice Chips and the Haunted Hurricane by Roy and Kerry MacGregor
*Hockey adventure  *Beginning chapter book  *Series

Lulu is Getting a Sister by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Kevin Cornell
*Gr. 3-6  *Illustrated novel   *Humour  *Family

Peanut Butter and Jelly (A Narwhal and Jelly Book) bu Ben Clanton
*Primary grades  *Novel  *Humour  *Friendship  *Series

The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
*Gr.1-4  *Novel  *Girls  *Action/adventure  *Series  *Science Experiments

Trains, Planes & Automobiles, Literally – Fact books for young transportation specialists

Do you know the names of all the construction vehicles in your neighbourhood?   Does someone recite the name and sound of local dozers from their car seat?  Then this section is for you and your young one.

*Primary grades  *Picture books  *Nonfiction  *Retro illustrations 

*Primary grades *Nonfiction  *Good for browsing  *Series


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