Books for Christmas 2021

Books for Christmas 2021

books

For Elementary and Younger

The Candy Man Mystery by Rabbi Kerry Olitzky and illustrated by Christina Mattison-Ebert (Ages 4-11)

Josh and Becky search for the congregation’s much loved Candy Man and readers learn about all the different people that make a synagogue a special place. Everyone loves the Candy Man at Temple Shalom, especially the kids. But when the Candy Man goes missing, Josh and Becky get to work to uncover the mystery.

My Israel and Me by Alice Blumenthal McGinty and illustrated by Rotem Teplow (Ages 4-11)

Told in verse, the book introduces readers to the diversity of Israel’s people from a child’s perspective. Explanatory text sheds light on the varied cultures and traditions that inspire the special connection many feel with “their Israel.” Though coincidental, this book has arrived at a critical time and Kalaniot Books hopes it proves useful to parents and educators in starting thoughtful conversations and sharing their own insights about the complicated feelings surrounding modern day Israel.

A Snake, a Flood, a Hidden Baby by Meir Shalev, translated by Ilana Kurshan, and illustrated by Emanuele Luzzati (Ages 6-11) 

Features six popular stories from the Hebrew Bible retold with whimsy by one of Israel’s most celebrated authors, including Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, The Tower of Babel, Abraham and Sarah, Joseph and His Brothers, and the Story of Moses. With irresistible humor, Meir Shalev introduces a lively cast of characters. Whether it’s a sneaky snake or a bunch of babbling builders, parents and their children are sure to enjoy these tales anew.

This Book is Not a Bedtime Story by Eoin McLaughlin & Robert Starling (Ages 3-6)

A hilarious, spooky tale by a celebrated author and illustrator.

This book is NOT a bedtime story.
It’s scary, strange, and rather gory.
Bedtime stories make you sleepy.
This book won’t.
It’s much too CREEPY.

Except it isn’t… This book is told by a group of monsters who think they’re very scary, but in fact they’re not—they’re cute and cuddly. They try their hardest to frighten—in a haunted house, creepy wood, ghostly ship, and darkest dark, but each time they fail! The problem is, these monsters aren’t at all scary, they’re a bit silly and a bit cuddly. They share the insecurities and worries of us humans and all they want is a good night’s sleep.

Where’s Brian’s Bottom? A Veeeerrrrry Long Fold-Out Book by Rob Jones (Ages 1-4)

An innovative and fun concertina board book, offering over 6 ½ feet of fold-out fun!

Brian is a very long sausage dog. So long he’s lost his bottom! Where could it be? Maybe it’s in the living room, with Alan the hamster? Or could it be in the bathroom with Derrick the duck? Oh, where has it got to? Help Brian find his bottom with this unique board book that just keeps growing and growing! As well as being entertaining, it teaches young children all about the different rooms in a house, about different animals and the sounds they make, and encourages a sense of curiosity.

Where is Everyone? by Tom Schamp (Ages 2+)

A toaster, a refrigerator, a sink, a bed, a car. Most kids can recognize these and other things that are part of their everyday lives. Leave it to Tom Schamp to imagine a different way of seeing them. As kids pore over these brightly colored and highly detailed pictures they’ll be delighted to discover a monkey on a surfboard and an elephant in a bowler hat— all inhabiting the same shapes they recognize in their homes. Each whimsical illustration offers a chance to explore, discuss, and giggle at the unexpected. Every page will encourage kids to think creatively and differently about the world around them and the possibilities that lie hidden in the things we see every day.

When I See Red by Britta Teckentrup (Ages 4+)

The heroine of this beautifully illustrated story feels her anger like a storm in a dark forest. It sweeps her away, and she thunders and howls. She pours down her emotions like sheets of rain; rage surges like a wind whipping angry waves. Her anger takes her on a wild ride.
Appropriate for a wide variety of ages, this book illustrates many aspects of anger that are often hard to articulate— how overwhelming it is, how isolating, even scary. But it also shows anger to be a source of power and an agent for change. Teckentrup’s impactful, boldly colored paintings skillfully evoke the way intense anger can take us on an emotional journey, one that can be both exhausting and affirming. This beautiful tribute to one girl’s experience of anger offers readers the opportunity to make sense of, and talk about their own feelings of rage in a time when that kind of understanding is more important than ever.

The Weather Pop-Up Book by Maike Biederstaedt (Ages 5+)


Biederstaedt takes book engineering to new heights as she immerses readers in five electrifying weather scenarios. As each spread unfolds, a meticulously designed landscape emerges—a freighter balances like a nutshell between high waves in the sea; a tornado takes terrifying aim at a truck trying to outrun it; a rain-spewing storm cloud towers like a skyscraper over a farm house. Nature’s delicate beauty emerges in the intricate shapes of a snowflake and in the luminous arc of a rainbow. Each page features an informative description of its weather event and the book closes with sobering commentary on the effects of climate change.

Is There Life on Your Nose? by Christian Bortslap (Ages 6+)

Germs, microbes, bacteria—these days those words are fraught with fear and uncertainty. But they’re not all bad. In fact, most of them make life and nature possible. Christian Borstlap’s playful, boldly colored illustrations and cheerful text will help kids understand that microbes are everywhere—in our noses and tummies, in the food we eat, in the air we breathe. From the world’s largest organism in Oregon’s Blue Mountains, to the bacteria that started life on earth; from microbes that help recycle plastic, to yeast that makes bread taste good—this book shows the incredible diversity of these tiny beings and how they affect every aspect of our lives. Borstlap uses both science and humor to demystify a potentially scary subject, and closes with double-page spreads that are packed with information to satisfy the most curious readers.

The Day Time Stopped by Flavia Ruotolo (Ages 5+)

One afternoon in Italy, a little girl is about to take a bite of her delicious popsicle when time . . . stops. At that very moment, across the planet, people and animals are frozen in action— captured by this book’s warm, quirky illustrations and clever, time-stamped captions. A penguin hatches in South Georgia; a little girl gets a haircut in Brazil; a family sits down to breakfast in California; a tiger falls asleep in Bangladesh; a boy’s football ball gets stuck in a tree in Cape Verde. The sheer enormity of planet Earth can be impossible for young kids to grasp. Here, in this playful introduction to time zones, hemispheres, and life in different climates, kids will identify with all the ordinary things going on at the same time in our extraordinary world.

I Saw a Beautiful Woodpecker by Michał Skibiński and illustrated by Ala Bankroft (Ages 6+)

It is the summer of 1939 in Warsaw, Poland and Michal is an eight- year-old boy just finishing his school year. In order to improve his handwriting, Michal’s teacher gives him a simple assignment: keep a journal, writing one sentence a day. Eighty years later, Michal’s diary has been gorgeously illustrated with beautifully atmospheric paintings. Eloquent in its simplicity, the journal is a remarkable artifact that captures the innocence of childhood and the trauma of war. Photographs of pages from Michal’s diary enhance the poignancy of this simple record—an ordinary holiday interrupted by war; a life changed forever by an extraordinary moment in history.

Christmas, Here I Come  by D.J. Steinberg, illustrated by Laurie Stansfeld (Ages 4-6)

Celebrate Christmas with a collection of funny and festive poems from the author of the hugely popular Kindergarten, Here I Come!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and everyone is getting into the Christmas spirit! From writing letters to Santa to picking the perfect tree, these heartwarming poems — plus a page of stickers! — from author D. J. Steinberg are sure to delight even the most sullen Scrooge.

For Middle School Children

Danny Chung Sums It Up by Maisie Chan, illustrated by Natelle Quek (Ages 8-12)

Eleven–year–old Danny’s life is turned upside down when his Chinese grandmother comes to live with his family in England. Things get worse when Danny finds out he’ll have to share his room with her, and she took the top bunk! At first, Danny is frustrated that he can’t communicate with her because she doesn’t speak English—and because he’s on the verge of failing math and Nai Nai was actually a math champion back in the day. It just feels like he and his grandmother have nothing in common. His parents insist that Danny help out, so when he’s left to look after Nai Nai, he leaves her at the bingo hall for the day to get her off his back. But he soon discovers that not everyone there is as welcoming as he expected . . . Through the universal languages of math and art, Danny realizes he has more in common with his Nai Nai than he first thought.

Violets Are Blue  by Barbara Dee (Ages 9-13)

Dee returns this September with a heartfelt take on another tough topic – this time, addiction – making it accessible to middle grade readers and letting those who have faced similar challenges know they’re not alone.

Twelve-year-old Wren loves to reinvent herself, whether through her passion for special effects makeup or trying out a different name. These experiments in identity allow her to escape into a different life, where her best friend doesn’t act like she hates her and she isn’t caught in the middle of her parents’ divorce. Moving to a new town seems like the perfect opportunity for a fresh start, and everything falls into place as Wren starts making friends and lands the job of makeup artist for the school’s production of Wicked. But Wren is so caught up in finding herself that she doesn’t focus on her mom’s erratic behavior. When an opening night disaster throws her mom’s opioid addiction into the spotlight, Wren realizes that some problems can’t be covered up with a little makeup, but require support, forgiveness, and rebuilt trust.

Made By Hand: Guitars (Ages 8-12)

Go behind the scenes and see how craftsman Meredith Coloma makes custom guitars by hand with this nonfiction book that’s full of photographs and illustrations about the incredible process.

Discover where the earliest guitars were made and how the instrument has evolved. Then come to the present day to meet Meredith Coloma, someone so passionate about guitars that she learned how to make them by hand. In Meredith’s workshop, there are shelves of ebony, maple, spruce, and western red cedar woods. The tool benches are filled with chisels, clamps, and rulers. Curled wood shavings and sawdust cover the floor. The sweet smell of newly cut wood fills the air. Go step-by-step with Meredith through her process of making guitars. Charts, infographics, and bold photographs make this a perfect book for reluctant readers and visual learners.

Green Kids Cook: Simple, Delicious Recipes & Top Tips: Good For You, Good For the Planet by Jenny Chandler 

A fun cookbook aimed at children’ aged 7-14 that teaches young people to engage with healthy food and sustainability.

This sequel to Cool Kids Cook emphasizes how to teach children to cook in the most environmentally sound and sustainable way. With over 50 easy and adaptable recipes and special feature spreads on the environment, simple ways to be more eco-friendly, and a few fun crafting projects, this will be a book to really engage the next generation of foodies in a positive way. Including recipes for Breakfasts, Snacks, Soups & Salads, Mains and Sweets, this is an inspirational and empowering cookbook for kids.

Soccer Trophy Mystery by Fred Bowen (Ages 7-12) 

Thirteen-year-old twins Aiden and Ava and their good friend Daniel, all avid soccer players, have just learned their county league soccer trophy mysteriously disappeared forty years ago from the town library. It was never recovered. So between games and practices for the town’s soccerchampionships, the three friends try to solve the case. But will these amateur detectives be able to unravel the mystery and find someone who had both motive and opportunity to commit the crime? And will their teams make it all the way to the championships?

As with the rest of the acclaimed series, which is celebrating 25 years of publication this year and receiving new cover treatments, Fred Bowen weaves exciting play-by-play sports action with real sports history, including a chapter in the back of the book of “The Real Story” behind the disappearance of the original World Cup trophy that was never recovered. Featuring a new mystery storyline, as well as focusing on girls in sports, Soccer Trophy Mystery is also a great book for character education both on and off the field.  Now with 24 books and close to a million copies sold, the bestselling series has received national and critical acclaim.

The Book of Labyrinths and Mazes by Silke Vry and illustrated by Finn Dean (Ages 7+)


This brilliant book on mazes and labyrinths in history and the modern world encourages young readers to really think about why these puzzles are so appealing. Filled with photographs, drawings, artwork, illustrations, and puzzles, it takes a thematic approach to these enigmatic works. Why are we sometimes afraid to get lost—and why does the idea excite us? How do mazes and labyrinths figure in history and mythology? What can nature tell us about humankind’s obsession with lines, spirals, and patterns? Along the way children will learn about the labyrinth designed by Daedalus for King Minos in the ancient city of Crete; the mystery of the Hemet Maze Stone in southern California; and the magnificent labyrinth at the Cathedral of Chartres. They are encouraged to trace their fingers along a labyrinth to experience its soothing effect, to solve maze-related number puzzles, and to create their own mazes and labyrinths. 

Kyle’s Little Sister by BonHyung Jeong (Ages 8-12) 

Addresses themes of being in the shadow of an older sibling, anxiety of not meeting expectations, and mending a friendship after a fight.

My name is Grace, not “Kyle’s little sister!”

Having a good-looking, friendly, outgoing older brother sucks—especially when you’re the total opposite, someone who likes staying home and playing video games. Your parents like him better (even if they deny it!), and everyone calls you “Kyle’s little sister” while looking disappointed that you’re not more like him. I was really hoping I’d get to go to a different middle school, but no such luck. At least I have my friends…until he finds a way to ruin that, too…! Argh! What do I have to do to get out of his shadow?!

Jeong captures the wide range of middle school experiences with a realistic voice and sweet artwork, depicting the raw emotions at play at this age with honesty and clarity. The nearly universal struggles of middle school – friendship and conflict, romance and heartbreak, sibling rivalry and familial love – will be relatable to anyone who has grappled with coming into their own. Kyle’s Little Sister has something for everyone, but especially young girls who want to see themselves in the comics they read.

For Young Adults

The Seventh Raven by David Elliott (Ages 14+) 

When Robyn and his brothers are turned into ravens through the work of an unlucky curse, a sister is their only hope to become human again. Though she’s never met her brothers, April will stop at nothing to restore their humanity. But what about Robyn, who always felt a greater affinity to the air than to the earth-bound lives of his family?

The Hideaway by Pam Smy (Ages 8-13) 

The Hideaway combines gripping text and stunning illustration to tell the story of Billy McKenna, a boy who runs away from a difficult situation at home and takes refuge in an overgrown graveyard to deal with his mixed-up emotions. There, Billy meets an elderly man who tends the graves in preparation for All Souls’ Eve, and ultimately witnesses the magical events that come to pass on that spooky night.

Interwoven in Billy’s supernatural story is the all-too-realistic tale of his mother’s situation at home and the police search for Billy. With themes of family and childhood, separation and reunion, domestic violence and doing the right thing, this is an important and beautiful book for middle graders through adults.

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