Books are good gifts for children

Books are good gifts

for children

December 1, 2012

I’m stepping away from my commentary for the next several weeks to make room for an additional book review to provide you with more choices to find the right books for the child in your life. Happy Holidays!

Books to borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries:

Winter’s Gift, written and illustrated by Jane Monroe Donovan (Sleeping Bear Press, 32 pages)

Read aloud: age 4 to 5 and older

Read yourself: age 7 to 8 and older

An old man lived on a small farm in the woods. It was Dec. 24, and a blizzard had covered everything in white. Christmas Eve had always been a wonderful time for the man and his wife. Each year they would decorate their tree and place the star on the top – the symbol of hope.

This year was different, for the man’s wife had died months ago, and he no longer had hope. As he prepared his dinner, he heard a sound outside and went to investigate, finding a mare lying in the snow. He gently helped her to her feet and led her to his barn, where he warmed her and gave her food and drink. Exhausted, he lay down on the hay and fell asleep. When he woke on Christmas morning, he found a very special gift, and for the first time in a long while, he found himself looking forward to the next day.

Librarian’s choice

Library: Burgettstown Community Library, 2 Kerr St.

Library director: Kimberly Poor

Choices this week: “Grey King” by Susan Cooper; “Old Yeller” by Fred Gipson; “So You Want to Be President” by Judith St. George

Books to buy

1-2-3 Dinosaurs Bite! A Prehistoric Counting Book by Sterling Publishing and illustrated by Steve Jenkins (Sterling, 2012, 15 pages, 6.95 board book)

Read aloud: age 2 to 4

Read yourself: age 6 to 7

Five hungry dinosaurs are busy gobbling up this board book, and kids can count along as each dinosaur takes a small chunk out of each page. The number of bites per page corresponds with the counting number on each double-page spread. Also included are fun facts about each dinosaur (plus a pronunciation guide for parents), what the dinosaurs really liked to eat and a listing of dinosaur details from 1 to 10.

Cold Snap by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012, 36 pages, $17.99 hardcover)

Read aloud: age 4 and older

Read yourself: 7 to 8

The town of Toby Mills was experiencing a terrible cold snap. There was an icicle that hung from the nose of the statue of town founder General Toby, and the townspeople tried everything they could to keep themselves warm. But as each day dawned, the icicle on General Toby’s nose grew longer and longer, and the temperature went down and down and down until it reached the unthinkable: zero.

Just when everyone (including the animals) thought they couldn’t take much more of the cold snap, the mayor’s wife had an idea to boost everyone’s spirits. Flyers were delivered throughout town, but everyone thought the 7 p.m.“Winter Surprise” invitation on the top of T-Bone Hill was strange. Who wanted to be outside? But the good citizens of Toby Mills went to T-Bone Hill anyway, and what a winter surprise it turned out to be!

Surviving the Hindenburg by Larry Verstraete and illustrated by David Geister (Sleeping Bear Press, 2012, 36 pages, $16.95 hardcover)

Read aloud: age 6 and older

Read yourself: age 8 and older

Werner Franz was the 14-year-old cabin boy aboard the giant German airship Hindenburg on May 6, 1937. The ship had crossed the Atlantic and was scheduled to land at Lakehurst Naval Base in New Jersey, but as it was making its final approach, disaster struck as the Hindenburg burst into flames. Miraculously, Werner Franz survived. This true story is at once fascinating, informative and riveting.

Kendal Rautzhan can be reached at



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