December is a wonderful month filled with holiday celebrations and spirited gift-giving. Whether your gift list (or budget) is small or large, a well-chosen book makes the perfect present for young and old. A new book can be shared in the classroom, or with friends and family; inscribe a personal message inside the cover, and create a keepsake that will last a lifetime.
For Infants and Toddlers
by Elsa Mroziewicz (Minedition $11.99) Age 2-5
This unique triangular board book has corners to fit into the littlest hands, with a simple and engaging concept perfect for “Baby’s First Book.” Mroziewicz is a French artist who takes inspiration from the circus and the theater, shown in the gaiety of her colorful illustrations.
Each double-page spread hides an animal (“Who says gobble-gobble?” “Who says meow?”) revealed only when all the triangular flaps are opened, like a crazy mashup of origami with an Advent calendar. A grown-up reader can assist at first; eventually older toddlers will be able to read the text and unfold the surprisingly sturdy flaps on their own.
For Preschool and Beyond
by Elisa Parhad, illustrated by Alexander Vidal (Cameron $12.95) Age 3-7
Los Angeles is … surfing waves and fashion faves, canyon views and movie crews, citrus fruits and long commutes. We’ve fallen hard for this rhyming new board book that celebrates our city and builds local pride in young Angelenos.
On pages durable enough for repeated “readings” by eager little hands, Vidal’s eye-catching illustrations bring LA’s favorite landmarks and unique culture to life—from taco trucks to tar pits. We honestly can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t love to find a copy under the tree this year.
by Guirec Soudée (Little, Brown $17.99) Age 4-10
Social media phenom Soudée is a French sailor (the youngest to sail Canada’s Northwest Passage solo) and animal lover whose most peculiar claim-to-fame is his first mate, Monique – a brave and affectionate red hen. This new book chronicles their first three years sailing the world’s waterways, during which Soudée did most of the sailor-type chores (well, all of them, really) with Monique providing much-needed companionship – and over 1,000 nutritious eggs!
Illustrated with colorful maps, quirky graphics, and astonishing real photos from the pair’s journey, this charming book combines a thrilling survival story with an enthrallingly cute animal tale; its broad appeal will please children of all ages.
Incidentally, this odd couple is still sailing together: a recent Instagram post (@guirecsoudeeadventure) shows them celebrating this book’s release on a Caribbean beach!
by Bruce Handy (Simon & Schuster $26) Adult
Author Handy is a widely published essayist and critic, contributing editor at Vanity Fair, and an engaged parent. While reading bedtime stories to his children, he found delight in returning to a “rich, enchanting and formative” world revealed as “far more interesting and complex than I knew.”
In a structure that parallels the developmental stages of childhood, Handy takes readers on a thoughtful and entertaining journey, from baby standards like “Goodnight, Moon” through picture books by Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak, and up through tween classics like “The Wizard of Oz” and “Little House on the Prairie.” He is genuinely moved by the work of now-102-year-old Beverly Cleary (best known for stories about Ramona Quimby and her sister Beezus), who he calls the “godmother of fiction” whose books offer “emotional insight,” while being “a comedy of manners for children.”
His revelations and enthusiasm will be enough to send anyone back to the children’s section, whether or not you have wee ones at home.