Gift Book Suggestions 2014

Hanukkah’s begun and Christmas Eve is less than a week away. That means it’s official, the holidays managed to sneak up on me again. Here are my gift suggestions for the kid readers in your life.

Overall Top Pick:

Under the Egg

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald –This book has all the best qualities: a heroine you can’t help but admire, a cracking good mystery, a family in dire need, the setting in New York City, and good friends to see you through.

A great two-book combination for kids who like history:

Stay Where You Are And Then...Stay Where You Are and then Leave by John Boyne


Women Heroes of World War I...Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Soldiers, Spies, and Medics by Kathryn J. Atwood

Finally, a couple of gripping young adult novels:

PointePointe by Brandy Colbert — lots of suspense lots of emotion and emotional struggles.

The Silence of Six The Silence of Six by E. C. Myers — a good old nail biter starring high school hackers.

Thanks for reading. I hope the upcoming weeks bring you peace, time with loved ones, and quiet hours to read good books.

Flashback Friday: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh


I haven’t read Harriet the Spy in many years. It’s probably on that shelf of books at my parents’ house—the one they’ve been bugging me to sort through. My mind’s a little fuzzy on the details of the story. But here’s what I do remember:

  • I carried a notebook and pencil around the neighborhood for quite some time after I read it. I didn’t live in the city like Harriet, so my notes were restricted to noting things like what the garbage men did. I didn’t bother to note the squirrels’ activities, though it would have filled up the book faster.
  • The story was full of characters. They were weird and I could picture them, hear them, and even see what they looked like and where they were simply from the descriptions.
  • It packed an emotional punch. Man did Harriet do herself in! Stomachache city for this sensitive reader, but I still loved it, which is saying something. I won’t say more in case you haven’t read it.

I may no longer be clear on the details of the story, but my memories of reading it are still strong. The story sparked emotion, visualization, and imaginary play. This is definitely a book I need to revisit soon.


The Crossover by Kwame Alexander


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.

When twins Josh and JB are nearly thirteen they rule their school’s basketball court. They are the best of friends and caught up in the game. After school and on weekends they practice with their dad, an ex-pro ball player. Dad regales them with stories of his past and lives by his ten basketball rules.

Basketball Rule #1

In this game of life
family is the court
and the ball is your heart.
No matter how good you are,
no matter how down you get,
always leave
your heart
on the court.

Josh will need all ten of his dad’s rules to navigate this challenging year because high school is looming and suddenly the people he depends on — and sometimes takes for granted —  are changing.

This novel in verse rings with the joy and energy of competition. It hums with the love of a close-knit family and boils and sobs with the pot of emotions as life bubbles on and over and through the characters. The story is beautifully told and will appeal to basketball lovers and word nerds alike, especially those who, like Josh, find themselves unexpectedly in a world where relationships are changing and emotions and hormones blaze uncontrollably.

Read The Crossover expecting to be drawn in: drawn in to the language Josh delights in, drawn in to the play-by-play of his games, drawn in to the love and frustrations of a family, drawn in to the anger that comes when life suddenly changes and you do not understand nor have the skills to manage it.



Flashback Friday: Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume

12519337 At my elementary school, you had to get permission from your parents to check Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret out of the library. The permission books were kept in the librarian’s back room. My parents would have been fine with signing, but the mechanics of the whole thing were kind of a big deal, so I never got it from the library. In social circles it wasn’t considered an embarrassing book to carry around, not like Forever, so I ordered it from the book order, and loved it. I passed it on to my daughter when she was the right age for it. The book introduces things like puberty, faith, and growing older in a way that allows kids to consider the ideas and information privately. It allows readers to ruminate without making themselves vulnerable to others’ opinions.