Duncan Tonatiuh's new book is 'The Princess and the Warrior' (Photo: Courtesy of Duncan Tonatiuh)
The holidays are all about traditions. We have friends who have us over for a Christmas Day dinner every year, the main course always a closely guarded secret until it's served. My wife and I used to make our daughter (now 27) sit on the couch with her eyes closed when we gave her Hanukkah gifts. Here at KQED, I'm keeping the tradition of helping our readers find children's books for the holidays.
So here's the favorites from the children's book buyers at bookstores at the four corners of the Bay Area. Sure, you can buy them on Amazon, but I'll bet you'll find more shopping fun if you stop by the bookstores mentioned below.
Hicklebees in San Jose
The San Jose-based book store features a children's literature museum, with real and faux exhibits (a pair of jeans signed by Ann Brashares, author of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, one of Charlotte's webs).
Here's a list of books from co-owner Valerie Lewis:
By Michelle Edwards/G. Brian Karas For Grades PS-2
A book about gift giving. Mrs. Goldman knits hats for everyone in the neighborhood. Sophia thinks knitting is too hard so she helps her by making the pom-poms. When Sophia notices that Mrs. Goldman is too busy to knit one for herself, she takes on the task, with a delightful result.
By Olivier Dunrea; Illustrations by Will Hillenbrand Grades PS-2
This talented duo offers a counting book where the tranquility of a deserted island is disturbed by silly rhyming animals appearing at the turn of each page. There are two wee dogs who think that they're frogs, three perky pigs that are all wearing wigs, and more. Cheery read aloud where young listeners can't help but pipe in before the turn of the page.
Ghost Crenshaw started running three years ago when his father chased him and his mother through the neighborhood firing a gun. After that he saw himself as "the boy with a scream inside". Now he's on an elite middle school running team with a shot at the Junior Olympics. Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award–winning author Jason Reynolds flawlessly delivers terror, anticipation and fear in this National Book Award finalist – clear to the finish line. I couldn't stop thinking about it.
March: Book 3
by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
The last of the powerful trilogy written by civil-rights crusader and Congressman John Lewis that brought back into focus the terrible struggles of the Civil Rights Movement. Sadly, it is still relevant today. For teachers of civil rights it should be a mandatory selection.
A catchy and deceptively simple book about a cat meeting other animals as it walks through the world. The illustrations and repetition have a classic quality, but the theme of understanding differences in perception is right up to date.
Abbie Wu is the narrator of this very funny, heavily illustrated chapter book for ages eight and over. Wu is certain that nothing good ever comes of the middles including middle school. Abbie is an instantly lovable character, a comically neurotic heroine who gets school hilariously wrong and eventually starts to get it right.
There is a witch who lives in the forest, she steals babies, raises dragons and casts a gloom over the village. Or so the stories say. Effortlessly lyrical and casually dark, this story is just like all the classic fairy tales. It's perfect for young readers aged 10 and up who understand that life is not often fair and that stories are not always true.
Musician Robbie Robertson (The Band), of Mohawk and Cayuga descent, tells this ancient Iroquois story about Hiawatha and his spiritual guide, the Peacemaker, who together bring unity to the warring Iroquois nations. This story shows how America might become great, again.
by Ilyasah Shabazz with illustrations by A.G. Ford
Malcolm was raised by a loving, spiritual father and a wise and beautiful mother. The memories of their happy home enabled Malcolm X to stand up for freedom and justice. Shabazz, the author, is Malcolm's own daughter.