When I was in third grade, my parents gave me a bright red book that still sits on my bookshelf today: Great Stories for Young Readers. Here are some of our favorite new gift books geared toward all sorts of young readers. With luck, your present to a special someone will become a cherished favorite for decades to come.
Is There a Dog in This Book? had me hooked right from the start, when three adorable, hip cats (Andre, Moonpie and Tiny) welcome readers with a warm greeting on the title page. The trio continues to chat with readers as they notice with alarm that someone has drunk their milk and played with their toy.
It’s one thing to learn your ABCs. It’s quite another when Oliver Jeffers is in charge. His new picture book, Once Upon an Alphabet, contains 26 very short stories, beginning with “An Astronaut” and ending with “Zeppelin.” Preschoolers and beginning readers will delight in these vignettes featuring everything from a lumberjack who repeatedly gets struck by lightning to, of all things, a puzzled parsnip.
Quite appropriately, The Memory of an Elephant is a large picture book, measuring 11 by 14 inches. It’s a big, unusual book in every way, featuring not only a story about an old, distinguished elephant named Marcel, but a compendium of assorted facts about everything from musical instruments and classic modern furniture to a variety of gourmet desserts.
The young dinosaur heroes of Gigantosaurus could hardly be cuter. They look like characters right out of an animated feature film―which is no surprise, as creator Jonny Duddle was a concept artist for the Hugh Grant film The Pirates! Band of Misfits. (He’s also the creator of books such as The Pirates Next Door.)
In our information-rich world, Mark Pett’s wordless picture book, The Girl and the Bicycle, is a refreshing change. This is Pett’s second such book, following The Boy and the Airplane. Somehow, by omitting words, the story seems more powerful; perhaps because instead of reading about events, we see and feel what’s happening.
Whether you’re an adult or a child, this new picture book biography gives an informed overview of intriguing nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale. It’s not a surprising subject choice for gifted author-illustrator Demi (born Charlotte Dumaresq Hunt, nicknamed by her father because she was half the size of her older sister). Demi is well known for her biographies of historical and spiritual figures, as well as her fairy tales, folk tales and stately art.
There’s something enchanting and timeless about the art of Barbara McClintock. Where’s Mommy? is a lovely follow-up to Mary and the Mouse, the Mouse and Mary, her previous collaboration with writer Beverly Donofrio. In the first book, Mary formed a friendship with a mouse; now, Mary’s daughter Maria has a secret bond with Mouse Mouse, unbeknownst to their moms.
Eric Carle asked a handful of children’s illustrators a question: What’s Your Favorite Animal? The answers are creative jewels by 14 beloved artists, including Mo Willems, Rosemary Wells, Lane Smith and Jon Klassen. Children and adults alike will enjoy the varied responses, each on a two-page spread, including anecdotes, childhood memories and more—all with illustrations, of course.
Imagine a fluffy yellow chick who, instead of wings, has very long, skinny and dangling arms. Elizabeth Rose Stanton’s debut picture book, Henny, is a gentle tale about just such a chicken. Preschoolers will relish this saga about the pluses and minuses of being different. On some days Henny feels triumphant as the other barnyard animals gaze at her in awe; but at other times, they simply...