books to give, books to get

Books to Give

If you need ideas for holiday gift giving this year, and want to give a book, I highly recommend going over to Mother Reader’s site and utilizing her “Ways to Give a Book” series. Quality stuff, and if you have to participate in the craziness of STUFF exchange, you might as well give a book. Since I never have any extra money, I hardly ever am able to give gifts, but even I will break down and buy a beloved classic at the thrift store to share with my nephew or other children I am lucky enough to know.

Books to Get

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

I hate snow. A fresh white blanket of it only reminds me of The Stuff, and if I have to drive in it–ugh. So much unhappiness.

Yet this book, with a layer of fresh snow at its heart, has managed to win me over. The quiet, simple, understated prose is perfectly suited to the topic of what happens over and under a layer of new fallen snow, and the bold lines and clean images of the art are a perfect complement. This book is an ideal one on one bedtime readaloud during the season, and it would work equally well being read aloud in a science classroom during a discussion of seasonal changes or hibernation. Bringing quality literature into all curricular areas–not just during language arts–is critical if we want to keep kids reading and excited about reading.

This book also presents a conundrum–Baker and Taylor suggests a nonfiction number for it, which I suppose makes some sense, especially with the rich author’s note and further reading suggestions, but I also think it would be better served in a public library being shelved with the picture books. What do you think? Where would you put this book?

The Conductor by Laetita Devernay

Somewhere in my childhood I must have had a book that was tall and skinny like this one, because the shape seems so familiar, but I can’t quite place it in my memory. The story–a wordless one, of a conductor conducting a symphony of nature, transforming leaves into birds and back again–also seems familiar, but I can’t tell you why.

The lines and limited color palette certainly bring to mind Caps for Sale and Edward Gorey, and the environmental slant reminds one of The Lorax, but I think this book reminds me of so many other things because it is just a good book–it knows what its saying, but it is also loose enough to allow for many different experiences while reading it. I think it would be amazing fun to play different pieces of instrumental music while viewing this book, and see how the music changes the way the swooping leaves and birds appear to you.

Both books are review copies kindly provided by the publisher.



2 responses to “books to give, books to get”

  1. I can’t stand it when picture books are shelved in nonfiction. It seems like the circulation kiss of death to me. I know kids browse dinosaurs and transportation, but otherwise I see nonfiction used primarily as curriculum support and consequently try to cram everything I possibly can into the picture book section.


  2. I agree. When I look at a book, I think, Would a kid be able to write a report using this book? Or is it just a picture book with some factual information added on, or a story-ish representation of a nonfiction topic? And more often than not I shove it into easy fiction.


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