First aired on The Next Chapter (12/12/11)
It's that time of year again, when The Next Chapter brings together their favourite kids lit experts to share their favourite children's books of the season! Shelagh Rogers and her motley crew have put together a list of seven sure-fire picks for the youngster in your life, covering every age from toddler to young adult.
Michele Landsberg is an award-winning writer and activist. Her book choices for the holiday season are:
April and Esme, Tooth Fairies by Bob Graham
Landsberg calls this touching tale about two young tooth fairies on their first tooth retrieval mission "a beautiful picture book." April, age 7, and Esme, age 5, are determined to succeed on their own, without the help of their experienced fairy parents. The charm, however, is in the pictures. With images from teacup bathtubs to giant strawberries, Graham makes April and Esme's teeny world larger than life for readers. "Every picture is filled with charm and delight."
Plain Kate by Erin Bow
Plain Kate won the TD Canadian Children's Book Award this year, and Landsberg argues it's easy to see why. The writing is "good and crisp and pungent" and the character of "Plain Kate" is simply unforgettable. The independent, orphaned daughter of a woodcarver, Kate is accused of witchcraft and must leave the only life she's ever known. Yes, there's the requisite dark magic found in many YA novels today, but Landsberg assures readers that "this is so much better than that."
The Phantom Toll Booth by Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer
The children's classic The Phantom Toll Booth has now been in print for 50 years, so to mark the occasion, Random House has released a special anniversary edition. It's filled with the captivating original art, and the added material includes appreciations from "wonderful writers" like Phillip Pullman and Maurice Sendak. According to Landsberg, "no kids from seven to 12 should miss the adventure of reading this one."
Ken Setterington was the first-ever children and youth advocate for library services for the Toronto Public Library. His top choices are:
The Vole Brothers by Roslyn Schwartz
Setterington thinks that The Vole Brothers is the perfect read for the little boy in your life. Schwartz is best known for her beloved mole sisters, and the vole brothers are sure to please fans news and old. When the vole brothers have eaten everything in sight in their new home — a drainpipe in the middle of a city — they set forth on an unforgettable adventure-filled culinary adventure! "It's just fun reading," Setterington promises. "It's the perfect book for a three- or four-year-old who is just getting excited about books."
Tilt by Alan Cumyn
All 16-year-old Stan wants to do is make the junior varsity basketball team. That is, until he meets Janine and his world is turned upside down. Setterington thinks this book will resonate with any young reader, as "it rings so true to the urges, the desires of a 16-year-old boy, and the confusion of a 16-year-old boy." A humorous and heartfelt read, Tilt is "a powerful and wonderful book" that's sure to please YA readers.
True Blue by Deborah Ellis
How long would you stand by a friend? Would you be there, no matter what — even if they were charged with murder? That's the central question in Deborah Ellis's latest effort, True Blue. When camp counsellor Casey is arrested for the murder of one of her campers, her best friend Jess is left dealing with tons of newfound attention — and the lingering question of whether she believes in her friend's innocence. Setterington argues that not only is True Blue "a powerful book," but it's the kind of story that "you need people to read and discuss."
Shelagh Rogers got into the recommending spirit this year and put forward a suggestion herself:
Sad Sad Seth: The World's Greatest Writer by Jill and Katherine Bobula
Sad Sad Seth is one book in a series of children's books about mental health. Seth suffers from depression, and works through his emotions by writing stories. Shelagh found this approach to a difficult and important subject matter "charming," adding that it's "probably among the best description of what it's like to be in depression" that she's ever read.
Don't forget to check out The Next Chapter's mystery books panel and the cookbooks panel.
What were your favourite children's books of the year? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments below!