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Best kids’ books for holiday gift giving

Preschool and older

“The Unforgettable Season: The Story of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and the Record-Setting Summer of ’41,’’ written by Phil Bildner, illustrated by S.D. Schindler. Full of gripping moments and fascinating sports history, this picture book covers the famous batting battle between two of baseball’s greatest players.

“Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site,’’ written by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. This is a bedtime book for the set who would rather be playing with toy trucks than settling down for the night. The rhyming text entertains and soothes, while the endearing illustrations depict machines with plenty of character.


“Press Here,’’ written and illustrated by Hervé Tullet. Who knew a good old print picture book could be so interactive? Readers and their young listeners are encouraged to press, shake, and clap to make bright dots rearrange. A turn of the page reveals the effects of their actions.

“Queen of the Falls,’’ written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. Van Allsburg, a two-time Caldecott Medalist, tells the story of Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. The soaring illustrations are as full of dramatic moments as they are of beauty.

Middle school and older

“The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth,’’ written by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer, annotated by Leonard Marcus. October 2011 marked the 50th anniversary of this beloved classic about a boy named Milo and his adventures in the kingdom of Wisdom. The wordplay and illustrations are as funny as ever and inquisitive minds will appreciate Marcus’s notes and introduction.

“Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans,’’ written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Narrated by an unnamed speaker, this moving book covers African-Americans’ contributions to the building of America. Nelson’s oil paintings are stunning and meant to be lingered over.


“Wonderstruck,’’ written and illustrated by Brian Selznick. Though living 50 years apart, Rose and Ben, both searching for family, find themselves drawn to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. With Rose’s story told in pictures interwoven with Ben’s journey told through text, Selznick creates a magical adventure as only he can.

“Every Thing on It,’’ written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein. This fantastic posthumous collection of previously unpublished poems and illustrations will not disappoint Silverstein’s devoted fans. Wit, visual humor, and laugh-out-loud absurdity are balanced by thoughtful, reflective verses and charming illustrations.

“Lost & Found,’’ written by Shaun Tan and John Marsden, illustrated by Tan. Tan’s inimitable art tells three stories about darkness and hope, loneliness and friendship, and displacement and belonging. He won an Oscar for the short animated film he made of “The Lost Thing,’’ a tale about a boy who takes pity on a strange thing when no one else would.

“Breadcrumbs,’’ written by Anne Ursu, illustrated by Erin McGuire. In this lovely novel about friendship, imagination, and growing up, Hazel is devastated when her best friend Jack stops talking to her. Nonetheless, after he disappears into the woods with the white witch she plunges into a fantastical world to save him.

Chelsey Philpot can be reached at cphilpot@mediasourceinc.com.