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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: gifts, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Books of December - Gifts

I have several siblings (several- more than three, less than a dozen).  For years, I gave every sibling a Christmas present.  Then, I gave every sibling and his or her significant other a Christmas present.  THEN, I gave every sibling, their S-O and their CHILDREN individual Christmas presents.  THEN, I gave each family a box of Christmas presents.  Finally, I sent some of my siblings a “family” Christmas present.   Now, they are lucky to get a greeting card from me.  This is the evolution of my family gift-giving.
( I did not expect nor did I often receive presents in return. Sometimes I was happily surprised.  I just like giving gifts.)

A lot of these gifts were homemade.  Because homemade gifts are super, right?  Well, they are, if they come from my sisters, who all take great pride in crafting the most delightfully sewn, knitted, quilted items.  I go for the Big Effect, and that sometimes means that my gifts fall apart 24 hours after they are unpacked.  Still, it’s the thought.... Or, is it? (My food gifts are usually awesome!)

A gift can be as small as a button, as mysterious as an empty box, as ephemeral as a kiss. 

Books about gift-giving and generosity that I love.

The Best Christmas Ever by Chih-Yuan Chen.  I will mention this book every Christmas season in some form or other, because I love it so much.  I love the brown paper feel of the illustrations.  I love the feeling of winter, darkness, and struggling hope.  I love its simplicity.  And I love the joyous resolution.  The Bear family is so poor that they don’t even hope for presents this year.  On Christmas morning, they find that “Toddler Christmas” visited in the night and brought them small, precious gifts.

Birthday Surprises edited by Johanna Hurwitz.  Hurwitz asked 10 children’s authors to write a story about a birthday in which a child received an empty box.  Sometimes, the box was the actual present.  Sometimes, the box represented something else.  In one case, the box was sent by mistake and the present was delivered in person.  Imagine getting a box filled with air. 

Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant.  First published in Rylant’s collection, Children of Christmas, this story tells of a train that rolled through the mountains and gifts that were thrown from the back to the impoverished children.  Every year, a boy wishes for one particular gift.  Every year, he gets something he needs.  He returns as an adult and we find out whether his wish ever came true.

The following website offers a list of books about gift-giving and generosity to share with your young ones. 
The Best Childrens Books about Generosity.

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2. The Anthropology of Gifts - Part One

The Anthropology of Gifts - Part One

Look what I got in the mail right before Christmas! 

 -a beautiful slip-covered copy of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass with the original illustrations by Sir John Tenniel.  (The book pictured comes from Atlas Books, a book marketing company.  The mention of this company is not an endorsement.  The Atlas Books catalog offers lots of lovely looking books.  However, I suggest that authors looking for a marketing company do a thorough investigation on their own.)

This is an example of a traditional "gift" book - lovely to behold and to hold.  Other traditional gift books are coffee table books, heavy with color plates, or educational tomes to enrich the recipient's mind, or inspirational volumes.  Gift books look impressive on display.

Every major publisher puts out books in the Fall that are designed to catch the eye and to answer the needs of the gift-giver.

Most book review sites produce Best of... lists before the holidays so that no one goes ungifted.  I prefer to let people do their own choosing.  I am not alone in having received book gifts that were not to my liking.  I have GIVEN books as gifts that ended up in yard sales. 

This brings me to something I have been mulling over during this season of grabbing, getting, gifting, griping, to say nothing of wrapping, worrying and wondering - the anthropology of gifts.

Part One:
Did you get what you wanted this holiday?  Did you give the perfect gift?  Are you wishing that you had spent more...or less?  Did your friend get a better gift from you than you got from him?

Does it matter?

Why do you give gifts, anyway?

We learn that there are two acceptable reasons to give gifts;
to show affection,
to earn affection.
(The second reason is, ahem, less acceptable than the first.)

It follows that gift-giving should be completely altruistic.  There should be no thoughts of, “Whoa, she will be blown away when she sees my awesome gift.”  Nor, should we be worrying that, “This gift won’t seem too brown-nosey, will it?”

In the history of gift giving there are so many other reasons;

to show power, - as in, “No gift you give me is worth as much as the gift I give you. So watch it.  I might take it back.”;
to earn prestige, - “Look how very important and special I am.  I can give so much.”;
to flatter, - “YOU deserve this wonderful gift.”;
to insult, -  “YOU barely even merit this tiny awful gift.”;
because it’s expected, - “I got invited to my cousin’s step-son’s wedding and I never even met him.  I don’t want to look cheap.”;
because it meets a need - “I noticed that your socks are worn.  Here, have some socks.”

The feelings that accompany gift-giving and getting are also significant -
hope that the recipient will be pleased,
envy over what others receive,
worry that we haven’t quite discharged our gift-giving duty,
worry that someone will be empty-handed,
worry that we will be disappointed,
hurt that the giver has no idea what we like - or who we are - even what colors we hate!

Yep, it’s a mine field, this giving of gifts. 

A young friend once complained that her relatives, whom she barely saw, gave her a beautiful Christmas stocking.
 “As if I was a little kid,” she snorted.  She was in her late teens.  “They have no interest in me, at all.” 
By the way, the stocking was absolutely gorgeous.   It was not appreciated.  The relatives did not want to show up empty handed, especially when they spent so little time with my friend.

And this brings up the politics of RECEIVING gifts....  Whoo, Nellie!  Do we really want to go into that, right now?

The ONLY acceptable way to receive gifts is happily and with a “Thank you.”  Jumping up and down with glee is acceptable if you are small enough to jump up and down without shaking the floors.  Sulking is never a good thing. 

If the gift is insulting, the giver has been thwarted. You seem pleased.  They will have to try harder.
If the gift attempts to impress, well, act impressed if you want to, but it is not obligatory.
If the gift was meant to flatter, don’t make much of it - unless you want to flatter back.
If the gift feels obligatory, remember, the giver didn’t have to give you anything.
If the gift seems insignificant, perhaps it is all the giver could give you.

As mothers, and grandmothers, and maiden aunts, and crotchety old uncles are always telling us, “It’s the thought that counts.”  (Except when it IS the thought that counts, - and the thought is nasty - then we are not supposed to notice.)

This holiday season, I decided not to worry about it.  I asked my loved ones what they wanted and gave them what I could to meet those requests.

I love every gift I receive, because I love the givers.

The best gift we have is our friends and family.  So, if we remember that, it’s all good - (in the words of Pete the Cat).

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3. Birthday Party

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4. Picture books, the greatest gift

photo by the author

photo by the author

Last year I read over 500 picture books. I don’t think I’ve read quite that many this year, but I have kept up a steady pace. I certainly have changed the way I look at picture books. Spending a year on the Caldecott committee does that – I will never look at a picture book the same way again, and this is a good thing. For one, it has made it easier for me to share how to look at the art in these books. I have been working with our local school board to help teachers look more closely at picture books. I spent a week in early December with the Grade 1 teachers. I showed them what I saw in the books, and they shared what they saw. I was amazed that I was able to find something new in The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend. I consider all the books our committee chose as friends. I carry them in my car. They are lifelong companions. They are gifts.

Speaking of book gifts. This makes me so proud to be Canadian that I am shouting it from my virtual rooftops. IBBY Canada, Groundwood Books , Sydney Smith, and JonArno Lawson have banded together to give a gift to the Syrian refugees that are coming to our country. Along with a copy of Sidewalk Flowers, each book will contain a card inviting them to take a trip to their local public library. It makes my librarian heart melt, this does.

So whatever you are doing this day, be it celebrating with family, eating cookies, working, lounging by the fire, or just relaxing, enjoy a gift. Find a favourite picture book and read it aloud.

The post Picture books, the greatest gift appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. Heartfelt Gifts: Writing Presents

My favorite gifts to give are the ones that have come from my heart and my pen!

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6. Picture Book Roundup - December Holiday edition

Each year, hundreds of new holiday books are printed. Many are trite, forced, or pedantic—but not these gems.  Here are my five new favorites. Readjoice! 

  If you have trouble viewing the slideshow, visit it on Riffle.
Featured books:
  • A Homemade Together Christmas
  • Oskar and the Eight Blessings
  • Me and My Dragon: Christmas Spirit
  • Too Many Toys!
  • Miracle on 133rd Street

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7. Comics Gift Guide

‘Tis the season for winter holidays!

Does the tween in your life or your library love comics? Here are a few that need to be on your radar and will make your kids go absolutely nuts.

Source: Goodreads

Peppi Torres is just trying to survive her first days middle school. Suddenly she finds herself being both the teased and the teaser, and in the middle of a club war! Can she figure out how to make middle school bearable for both herself and those around her?

Source: Goodreads

Do your kids love PrinceLess? Well, let’s not forget about Angoisse, the oft-forgotten middle Ashe sister. What’s she been up to lately? Wellllll, it seems that the swamp surrounding her tower is inhabited by monsters and goblins and vampires! Not to worry, though, because her sister Adrienne and friend Bedelia don’t think twice about helping Angoisse rescue herself! The PrinceLess books are all fantastic and volume 4 is no exception.

Source: Goodreads

Well, Squirrel Girl is 100% delightful for readers of all ages, and it’s just been announced that Shannon and Dean Hale are going to write a YA novel about Doreen Green, so this is a GREAT time to get caught up on this girl who has the powers of a squirrel, awesome tale included. Bonus? Volume 2 comes out before Christmas, too! Perfect for the superhero fan in your life that also loves humor.

Source: Goodreads

Source: Goodreads

Do you have a Steven Universe fan in your family or your library? Then get this fully-illustrated handbook to the Crystal Gems into their hands, stat! Fully authorized and written by Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar, this book is full of new facts and fun illustrations. I promise your SU fans will eat it up.

Happy gift buying and book ordering!

Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a library consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

The post Comics Gift Guide appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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8. Perfect Websites for Booklovers and The Geek Tribe!

We live it.  We love it.  We are passionate about it.  And just what exactly is "it?"  The library, of course!  But it's beyond that.  Beyond books, beyond technology, beyond the due date stamp.  When it comes to librarians and their passions, let's just say we can be a tough crowd to buy gifts for.  But FEAR NOT!  Here is a list of 10 websites YOU can use (or tell someone who needs to know this!) to warm the heart of the most curmedgeonly, geekiest, book nerdiest, and alphabetically obsessed librarians out there!:

1. Mental Floss: http://store.mentalfloss.com/new-arrivals/
Not only does it have some pretty cool t-shirts, but some very unusual books which can't be found on booklists librarians use.

2. Klear Gear: http://www.kleargear.com/
You can get a better clue about what type of person a librarian is just by looking at their desk.  Why not splurge on some very unique desk and office decor.  There are tons of other geek things we'd all love  to show off our love for all things nerdy!

3.   Paddywax: http://www.paddywax.com/Shop/Library
It isn't enough we want to work in a library, but we love the smell too!  Nothing beats the smell of an old dead author and this website offers them all!  Edgar Allan Poe?  How about Jane Austen?  My personal favorite is John Steinbeck. Who knew he could smell so amazing?!?

4. Cafe Press: http://www.cafepress.com/+library+clothing?utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=msn&utm_campaign=40356349&utm_content=357822031&utm_term=kwd-9644233571-bb-c
If you've never visited Cafe Press and looked through their extreme collection of clothing for library lovers, well now's your chance.  Super librarian?  Check.  Library Humor? Check.  Quotes? Check!  Too many to choose from, and all what a librarian would love

5. Think Geek: http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/jewelry/
This site is great for the guybrarian you know as well as the girlbrarian too!  I chose this particular link because who else would carry a Death Star or Yoda charm to put on a Pandora bracelet?  Yeah, and this is just tapping into the geek waiting for you when you open this puppy up!

6. Demeter Fragrance: http://demeterfragrance.com/paperback.html#  (or try Amazon)
What exactly does an old paperback smell like?  Should we even go there?  Well, fear not!  For those who love the smell (not moldy book, no no!!) then go ahead a splurge!  You too, can smell like an old paperback book!!

7. Gone Reading: http://gonereading.com/group/book-shaped-plates-platters/
Some of us have said we eat, drink, and breathe books.  Well, here's a site that could help your gastronomic endeavors.  Just put food on these book plates and let the eating begin! (check the clearance link...they're on sale!)

8. Out of Print: http://www.outofprintclothing.com/collections/womens-tees
Cool tees for ALL librarians!  From picture books to classics and other things, these are by far the best looking tees of the  bunch! They have some pretty cool coasters too, of all things sacred to libraries!

9. Zazzle. http://www.zazzle.com/librarian+mugs
This collection happens to be mugs.  Why a hot beverage, you ask?  Because nothing says I love books more than a hot cuppa and a good book.  NOTHING.... And for those of us who can't quite grasp drinking and books because of spillage, they have travel mugs with lids too.

10. American Library Association Store: http://www.alastore.ala.org/SearchResult.aspx?CategoryID=164&gclid=Cj0KEQiAjpGyBRDgrtLqzbHayb8BEiQANZauh4dUi5SXlBNNDldnxqdW-Zt0Ys4yxFFJna67kW5NqksaAnHh8P8HAQ
You call yourself a librarian? Yeah, well you're not a true librarian (or someone related to a true librarian) if you didn't put this store on the list! 

Happy Holidays Everyone!  Let the e-shopping BEGIN!!  *and if you happen to need my address for shipping purposes, just shoot me an email :)

image link: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/NUC_Christmas_Tree_S_Calhoun.jpg

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9. Get Free Shipping on the Boomerang Books Christmas Catalogue

Looking for great Christmas gifts to buy for your loved ones? Books make fantastic gifts at Christmas time! And to make your job easier, we’ve released our annual Christmas Catalogue. If you order from our Christmas Catalogue before midnight on Sunday 15 November, you’ll get FREE shipping on your order when you use the promotional code […]

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10. Two Gifts

by Hugh MacLeod at Gapingvoid.com

Enjoy the blessings of the day!

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11. Gifts: The Grace of Kindness

Hi folks, I'm ending the year with Gifts. This has been one of my most challenging years as a writer. I've struggled more professionally than at any other time in my life. My book PLUMB CRAZY is soon to go out of eprint. The paperback is cancelled. The book after it is cancelled. The small publisher has decided to go in a different direction. I put a lot of myself in that book and this wasn't the news I wanted. I turned 50 this year. I have the most mundane part-time job on the planet. I've slipped into depression, the real kind that takes some support. This week, to add insult injury, I came down with a skin infection that has left me soo tired. A bumpy part of this road of life, but I'm determined to find the silver lining.

So what gift do I have for you? Here goes. The Grace of Kindness.

I'm a person people tell secrets to. Some are small. Some are mighty. Some people I know, some I don't know. Sometimes in the grocery store or when I'm buying gas. Sometimes over coffee or on a walk.  I try to do little things every day that will help somebody. I build some margins into my life so that I can have time to listen and help whoever gets in my path .I'm nothing spectacular. I'm a small time kindness operator, but small kindnesses are as natural to me as breathing.

Kindness has been a part of me since I was very young child. Just like my flaws of a hot temper and my whining tendency (Hope I didn't whine too much above! Working on it.), I've had the grace of kindness. It's hardwired. I'm not perfect. My faults have spectacularly let some down when then really needed my grace. Still, in spite of me, the grace of kindness has generally reached out to others. And like all good grace has lifted me up in process and given me a sense of meaning when almost everything else has failed me.

I believe every person has some grace.  Some sing like angels. Some are the most long suffering folks that have ever lived. Some have the gift of gab and can say a perfect word at a perfect time. To me, grace means unmerited favor. Something in you that is just in you. It's hardwired like breathing. Sometimes in our life the things we've worked for get stripped from us. We lose our job. A relationship doesn't work out. Our dignity is taken away. We suffer great injustice. What should we do?

For me, I lean into grace in my life during these times. I'm a storyteller. I forge on.  I'm an organizer. I find something to organize. I'm kind. I find a place to pour that kindness.

Be aware of the grace in your life. For me all grace is a bit of the light of the divine, tucked away in the most flawed earthen vessel, I continue my journey to let it shine.

I will be back next week with more gifts.

Here is the doodle: The sun, moon, and the stars.

And a quote for your pocket.

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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12. Have a Bookish Holiday #GiveaBook

I'm sure I'm not the only one who loves to gift books and loves the gift of a book. Typically everyone on my list is doing to get a book of some kind or another. Sometimes it's a book I've read, loved and want to share and other times it's just something that seems to fit. I'm always looking for new ideas for books for the people on my list and want to share a few that I hope you'll love as well.

Years ago I gave a copy of I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron to my mother-in-law. I'm not going to lie, it was a brave move on my part and she didn't look thrilled when she opened it. No, let me correct that, she looked completely confused. However, I won her over. She agreed that the book was charming and hilarious. Phew.

The Book with No Pictures by BJ Novak is not just adorably fun, but its actually a great family activity. It seems odd I know, but I recommend it for anyone with small children. Kids and adults will find this one hard to resist.

If you haven't seen it, because it's everywhere, Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) has a new cookbook out. This one is Make It Ahead. I haven't read, or even looked through this one yet, but hands down The Barefoot Contessa is one of my favorite cookbook authors. Nearly every recipe I've made of hers is simply and amazing. If you have a cook on your list, whether she's experienced or a novice, I would recommend any of the many Barefoot Contessa Cookbooks. They are all amazing (I own most of them).

And since many of you know that I'm a Gluten Free cook I think I would be remiss in not sharing one of my favorite Gluten Free cookbooks. I have a number on my cookbook shelf and I tend to use a little from this and a little from that. But if there's one cookbook that looks the most tattered it would probably be Kelli Bronski's Artisanal Gluten Free Cupcakes.  I've been told time and time again that my cupcakes and cakes do not taste gluten free (whatever that means) and I credit this cookbook. It's divine.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer is back in the news with the publication of Christopher McCandless's (the protagonist of the story) sister's memoir. I haven't yet read this and I first read Into the Wild a million years ago. But it's a book that sticks with you, haunts you and is an amazing story. It's a great gift for anyone who likes adventure. Honestly, it's a great gift.  

This book came up in a post just a few weeks ago, but since it seems so few people have read or heard of the series I have to mention it again. Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace is a wonderful book for any young reader. I first gifted it to a 7-year-old friend of mine who loved books and she fell in love. Fans of Anne of Green Gables will love it. I know I did.

There are so many other great books. So many that I'm missing. So help me out. I still have some shopping to do and could use some nonfiction, something for the Broadway musical lover, something for a teen girl and, well, maybe something for me.


Help donate a book to a U.S. child in need this holiday season. Simply post or tweet #GiveaBook on Facebook or Twitter before 12/25 and Penguin Random House will donate up to 25,000 new books to Save the Children – helping build a better future for us all.
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13. Our Favorite Books for December

Our five favorite books for the month of December feature caterpillars, pigs (both large and guinea), and several incredible heroines. All make perfect holiday gifts and can be found on the First Book Marketplace.

PreK-1st (Ages 2-6)

VHC_bilingualThe Very Hungry Caterpillar / La oruga muy hambrienta written and illustrated by Eric Carle

One of the most popular books on the First Book Marketplace is back after a brief hibernation in its cocoon. Eric Carle’s unique illustrations are as charming as they were 40 years ago, but now even more students can count along as our hungry friend eats its way through fruit, junk food, and leaves in this Spanish-English bilingual board book. No matter how many times your students flip through each page, they will stay hungry for more (with minimal risk of stomachaches).

Grades 1-3 (Ages 6-9)

Mercy_WatsonMercy Watson to the Rescue written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

As it turns out, the floorboards in the Watson household are not strong enough to support a grown man, a grown woman, and a hefty pig named Mercy all sleeping in the same bed. With a BOOM and a CRACK, all three Watsons wake up to find the bed teetering over a hole, but it’s Mercy to the Rescue! Or is it? Actually, no. Mercy has snuffled her way over to their elderly neighbors, the Lincoln Sisters, in search of sugar cookies. Luckily, Mercy’s actions still might get somebody to call the Fire Department for help. With delightful illustrations and loveable characters, this Advanced Reader is sure to make any student feel all “warm and buttery-toasty inside” as they cheer along this porcine-wonder.

Grades 2-4 (Ages 8-10)

Hamster_CheeseHamster and Cheese (Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye Series #1) written by Colleen AF Venable and illustrated by Stephanie Yue

Zounds! Somebody has been stealing Mr. Venezi’s sandwiches from the counter of his pet shop. He suspects the hamsters are the culprits and threatens to send them all away if his sandwich is stolen again, prompting the exceptionally excitable Hamisher the hamster to enlist the help of Detective Sasspants, Guinea P.I.(g). But how is this reluctant pet shop Private Eye supposed to solve a mystery when the hamsters sleep through the crime, the fish are too distracted by their reflections, and Gerry, the most suspicious slithery suspect, won’t cooperate? Jump into this hilarious graphic novel to find out and test your own detective skills along the way.

Grades 5-6 (Ages 10-12)

Mighty_Miss_MaloneThe Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

In 1936, the town of Gary, Indiana, was held fast in the grip of the Great Depression, homelessness, and the ever-present scourge of racism – however, it was also home to a loving family of four uniquely talented people. Readers are given a window into this world through the eyes of the earnest, book-brilliant, and fiercely loyal protagonist Deza, the youngest member of the Malone family. With a father in search of a job and a brother in pursuit of his dream, Deza soon finds her tight-knit family torn apart. She will need every ounce of her unflappable optimism to hold her loved ones together, so they can continue, undaunted, on their journey to that place they call Wonderful.

Grades 7+ (Ages 13+)

Code_Name_VerityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity is the ultimate story of friendship and sacrifice, following the stories told by two heroines caught behind enemy lines in Nazi occupied France. Feverishly gripping and expertly plotted, this award-winning novel will make you gasp, cry, and want to go find your best friend and hug him or her right away. Whether told under the influence of horrendous torture or guiltily crammed in the lines of a pilot’s note book, you won’t be able to stop reading these confessions until you reach the stunning conclusion.

The post Our Favorite Books for December appeared first on First Book Blog.

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14. Gifts I Want

It's that time of year when everyone everywhere has a list of gifts for your favorite mom, or golfer, or skier. So here's my list of gifts for writers and readers. Mostly these are things I personally want or like to have, so it's pretty self indulgent. I'm sure you can add items to the list.

I'd like to preface my list with this statement: I am all about gifts of experiences or things that can be used up, consumed. I don't need more stuff in my life, but I do want more life in my life.

1. SCBWI membership for your favorite aspiring/published/nationally known children's author or illustrator. Many of us on this blog are SCBWI members, and I'd just like to throw out a couple of wonderful benefits of this membership. First, it's the world's largest and most respected professional organization for children's publishing. It's important to your career to belong to the professional organization for your industry. We have great programs, great publications, resources of all kinds, networking, critiquing, and conferences. You'll make contacts with editors and agents, fellow authors, and learn from the best.

2. Audio books. Personally, I have never outgrown my love of being read aloud to. My mom hooked me early on, and my fourth grade teacher read to us every day after lunch. My husband reads to me every night before bed. When I was in the hospital once, he read me Beatrix Potter stories. Audio books are perfect for car trips, subway rides, plane travel, or just doing the dishes. I have an app on my phone, so I can take my audio books anywhere I go. And when the hubby is out of town, I let my audio book read to me before bed.

3. This one is sort of obvious. Gift cards to bookstores. One of the highlights of our Christmas celebrations is going to the bookstore after Christmas and using our gift cards. I prefer indie bookstores.

4. Send your favorite author/illustrator to a conference. There are dozens of workshops and events close by, or if you want to splurge, send them somewhere like Highlights workshops or Big Sur. Of course, SCBWI conferences are awesome, and there are many. The big ones in LA and NYC every year, as well as regional conferences all across the U.S. and around the world. Go to http://www.scbwi.org/events-home/ to check out all the possibilities. Conferences are invaluable investments in perfecting one's craft and meeting people in the industry.

5. Pens and paper. Yes, I know it's the age of the computer and other electronics, but I have yet to find an author or illustrator who doesn't use the old-fashioned method once in a while. I keep a notebook with me wherever I go to jot down ideas, images, resources, etc. I used to write out all my first drafts in longhand, and even now that I've trained myself to write at the computer, I still occasionally like to write a chapter on paper. It uses a different portion of the brain. If you don't know what your author friend likes, a gift card to an office supply store is also a good bet.

6. Chocolate. I don't think this needs any explanation, except that I prefer the highest quality dark chocolate available.

7. Coffee. See #6.

8. Time. Writers need time. Life is busy and there are a million other things demanding our attention. Give your writer the gift of time. A weekend at a cabin. A babysitter once  a week. An offer to do the dishes every night (or insert appropriate chore here) while he/she writes. A nudge to attend a critique group.

9. Buy your writer/illustrator a critique with an editor/agent through one of the conferences in our area. Learning what professionals see in your writing is so important and valuable.

10. A puppy. So this is personal, but I have to include it. My dogs are always by my side when I'm writing. I have two of them. But I've been asking for a golden retriever for almost a year, and if anyone who loves me wants to buy me one, that would be the best gift. Pets comfort you when the writing isn't going well. They encourage you to get out for a walk when your butt has gone numb from the butt-in-chair work ethic. They are also characters in many children's books. There's a reason for that.

There you have it. A complete guide for gift-giving for the writer. Print it out and give it to your family, or use it to thoughtfully gift your writerly friends. Or hound my hubby about giving me a puppy.

by Neysa CM Jensen
up in Boise, Idaho

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15. Christmas (Back Catalogue Of) Book Ideas

It’s that time of year when we turn our thoughts to what the heck we are going to source for our loved ones without having to set foot in a physical, upselling store amid millions of similarly harried customers who may or may not have experienced or dished out some carpark rage on their way […]

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16. Holiday Shopping Guide for the Writers in Your Life

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17. Things I Love Thursday

I love cool stuff for book nerds!

(The holidays will be here before you know it. Just sayin')

Like a library card phone cover:

And banned books socks:

And a Goodnight Moon onesie:


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18. A GIft for Mama: Linda Ravin Lodding and Alison Jay

Book: A Git for Mama
Author: Linda Ravin Lodding
Illustrator: Alison Jay
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4 to 8

When A Gift for Mama arrived, my daughter took one look at the cover and said: "We have another book about that boy." She wasn't strictly correct, but she did recognize that the boy on the cover of this book looks a lot like the boy from The Cloud Spinner, by Michael Catchpool. Both books are illustrated by Alison Jay, and she has a very distinctive illustration style. This works well, because of the tone of the two stories is similar.

In A Gift for Mama, a young boy in old-time Vienna buys a gorgeous yellow rose as a gift for his mother's birthday. Oskar thinks that the flower is "the perfect present" until an artist offers to trade a paint brush for the flower. Oskar decides that if he paints a picture for his Mama, that will be "the perfect present." But then a conductor needs the paintbrush as a temporary baton, and offers Oskar something else in return. And so on. Oskar's mood fluctuates as these trade keep occurring, some without his consent at all, but his innate optimism keeps him thinking that each thing is "the perfect present." 

An author's note at the end of the book gives brief historical context to the Viennese figures that Oskar has encountered, including the Empress Sisi and the artist Gustav Klimt. Understanding who these figures are transforms Oskar's story into a tour of Vienna in 1894. This information isn't really necessary to appreciate the book, but it does add another layer. 

In truth, my almost four year old was a bit baffled by this book, asking "Why does everyone keep taking the boy's things?". But this didn't stop her from wanting to read it again. Oskar is an appealing character, with his up and down moods, and his clear love for his mother. There's a scene in which Oskar experiences a particular disappointment, and my daughter could absolutely relate to his hunched posture (exactly the same way she hunches over sometimes when things don't go her way). 

Lodding's text is full of exclamations and drama, and uses relatively advanced vocabulary. Like this:

"With a tug on the reins, the carriage lurched to a roll.
"Mama's book!" cried Oskar. "It's ruined."

But as Oskar looked up, there was the Empress herself!
She held out a box. "Candied violets," she said kindly. "To say sorry for your book.""

Oskar bower. "Thank you Your Highness!"
The dainty, delicious sweets were the perfect gift for Mama!"

Here Oskar's words as he declares the book ruined, as well as "the perfect gift for Mama" are in slightly larger text, encouraging the adult reader to emphasize those sections. I like books that give cues like this for read-aloud. 

But what I love are Jay's sepia-toned illustrations. They have faint jigsaw lines across each image, like one would see on a very old painting. The people are a bit rounded, wide in their waists, and the use of perspective emphasizes Oskar's powerlessness as the large (and famous) adults manipulate him. 

A Gift for Mama is going on our "keep" shelf. Next to The Cloud Spinner, of course. The conbination of story and pictures leaves readers with a warm feeling. And the fact that there is a bit of historical knowledge hidden in the book adds a special bonus. Recommended for ages four and up for home or library use. 

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)  
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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19. Giving…. NIV God’s Word

Matthew 6:3-4
3.But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4.so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

1 John 3: 17-18
17.If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18.Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Hebrews 13:16
16.And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Philippians 4:19
19.And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7
6.Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7.Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Romans 12:13
13.Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Acts 20:35
35.In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ “

Luke 6:38
38.Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Proverbs 22:9 9.A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.


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20. Kids’ Books for Gifting

Kids' Books

I’m a little late with this list, but there’s still some time to shop for Christmas, if not Thanksgivvukah.

Our family reads a lot. I tried to come up with a list of kids’ books we love that you might not have heard of. These have all been extensively road-tested.

The first two are novels for elementary-age kids. In this age of Harry Potter, my daughter is not a big fantasy fan. Not sure why, but realistic fiction is her bag. Maybe that’s because it’s what her mom writes. Haha!

First up is The Year of the Dog, the first in a series of three (I think, unless there’s a new one?) about a Chinese-American girl and her friends and family. I love these, and was so happy my daughter did, too. In fact, she re-reads them often. I’d say they’re for ages 7 and up, most likely. They’re written by Newbery honor winner Grace Lin. (BTW, Ms. Lin used to work in Harvard Square with my good friend Jamie. So there! I’m tangentially famous).

Summer of the Wolves is the first in a series written by my friend Lisa Williams Kline. The books follow two newly-minted stepsisters in their adventures together, and my daughter doesn’t know it yet, but she’s getting two more of them for Christmas. She has read and re-read the ones she already owns. If you live here in Charlotte, you can get   Lisa’s books (usually signed ones) at Park Road Books.

Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell is a picture book biography of Jane Goodall. I love a good picture book bio, and this one has all the ingredients of a winner: great illustrations, engaging text (but brief enough for small kids) and real-life snippets that kids can really relate to. My six-year-old has often asked for this one over the last year.

If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen is the first book my son tried to memorize, he loved it so much. It’s full of zany flights of fancy and imaginary gadgetry, which is perfect for someone who likes machinery, as my boy does.

Tumble Me Tumbily is excellent for toddlers, and I can honestly say it holds up after nightly readings for a looong period of time. This was my son’s first favorite book, from the time he was one.

Finally, The Buffalo are Back by the great Jean Craighead George (she of Julie of the Wolves and My Side of the Mountain fame) is the true story of buffalo in America. It gets very sad, but there’s a hopeful ending. It totally made me want to go out west to see buffalo in the wild. The illustrations are lovely.

For more recommendations, you can check out some kids’ craft books we love in this post.

If you value bookstores and want them to stick around, please consider buying from your local shop, or ordering them from an independent retailer.

And by the way, my own books are available at Park Road Books in Charlotte, as well as online! Have a great weekend.

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21. Gifts to Inspire Young Writers + Giveaways

Nurture a child's interest and talent for writing this holiday season with one of these items. Look for a chance to win one of these five items by reading the giveaway information at the bottom of this blog post.

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22. Give a Book and Help Raise a Reader

When I was growing up, our tradition was that we always got at least one book for Christmas, and those were some of my most treasured gifts. I still remember the Christmas that I got an anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories, and I sat next to the Christmas tree and spent a pleasant couple of hours reading. Giving children books as gifts helps to reinforce that books are something special and to encourage a love of reading. Here are some sources that can help you find the perfect book as a gift for the child in your life:

  • 150 Ways to Give a Book: Every year my friend MotherReader posts this list of gifts which pair a book with something fun related to the book. Check out the updated 2013 list here.
  • I've been involved with the Cybils Awards since the award was founded in 2006. Our goal is to honor those children's books which have both literary merit and child appeal. The Cybils lists are great sources of ideas for book gifts. Go to www.cybils.com and check out the 2013 nominations lists by category in the middle sidebar. The nomination lists include links to judges' reviews for many of the books. You can also check out previous years' finalists and winners in the right hand sidebar.
  • I've also been doing some web development work recently for the Mom's Choice Awards, making enhancements to their web store. Here you can shop for books, toys, and other gifts that meet the Mom's Choice standards of excellence. (My husband's book, The Dark Dreamweaver, is a Mom’s Choice Awards® Gold Recipient)
  • Don't forget your local independent bookstore! Independent booksellers are knowledgeable resources who can help you find the perfect gift. You can find a local bookstore or search for books through the IndieBound website.

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23. Small Business Saturday

I'm participating in Small Business Saturday! I've recently reopened my Etsy shop with prints, collaged decor, and original paintings. Please stop by and check it out.

I know I'm way behind on posting for SkADaMo! I promise I've been sketching everyday, but I haven't had time to post them. Here's a little something to tide you over.

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24. Unique Holiday Gift Options from the First Book Gift Catalog

Give Gifts That Give Back

You can honor a loved one with a meaningful holiday gift and make the holidays merry and bright for children in need with the First Book Gift Catalog.

Here’s how:

  1. Pick a gift that inspires.  From a collection of books that is just for giggles to a truckload of books that can transform a community, the First Book Gift Catalog has something for everyone on your list.  
  2. Personalize a holiday card for your loved one.  Choose from a variety of beautiful cards to let your loved one know about the generous contribution you have made in their honor.  You can print the card at home or send it via email.  
  3. Bring joy to a child in need.  With each gift you make, a child in need will receive brand-new books.  Your gift of new books will help ignite imaginations, inspire hope and elevate the quality of education for kids from low-income families.

Give a gift that gives back with the First Book Gift Catalog.  Thank you for your support.


The post Unique Holiday Gift Options from the First Book Gift Catalog appeared first on First Book Blog.

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25. Gifts for Bibliophiles

Star Wars CookbookPresents for bibliophiles are always difficult to find. The eternal, unanswerable question is: Which book to buy them when they’re likely to have already read it and everything around it?

List masters Buzzfeed have compiled a handy list of complementary gifts, for those who have read everything. Their recommendations include the:

  • iPhone book doc, from which’s pages bass clearly blasts
  • a text-imprinted scarf [ostensibly insert passages from your favourite book here]
  • invisible bookshelves (because as any bibliophile will attest, there’s no such thing as too many bookshelves)
  • a tongue-in-cheek what I call a sloppy-joe jumper (although I have no idea who this sloppy Joe was and why he warranted such an unflattering but oh-so-comfy warming device named after him). It might not be a jumper fit for public consumption, but it’s perfect attire for comfortably quarantining yourself until you uncomfortably bash out a bestselling tome (the ‘I like big books and I cannot lie’ is likely to be the only thing that will make you smile when your brain is numb and bleeding from trying to get coherent words on a page). It’s best worn with tea- or chocolate-stained boxer shorts or leggings
  • a text-laden brooch that makes me want to press pages of my favourite books to shapes of props relevant to key plot points or to leading characters’ mannerisms
  • a text-imprinted tea towel akin to city/surburb stop artworks that I’ve long, long coveted
  • luggage tags that reference such travelogues as Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, which, frankly, lends itself to an infinite number of cultural references.

Zombie Survival Guide

The reason I came across this list is because I’m a) procrastinating and b) brainstorming some present ideas for a friend’s impending birthday (I like to think it’s weighted towards the latter). Either way, I’m getting distracted and one-for-you-one-for-me carried away.

I’m still rather chuffed at my genius at giving my brother a Star Wars Cookbook a few Christmases ago. Recipes include Boba Fett-Uccine, Crazy Cantina Chili, and everybody’s favourite Wookie Cookies.

I’m also eyeing off the Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook and the Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook, although with their focus on meaty recipes, neither is unlikely to be suitable for me. (I’ve heard an Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook also exists, although the same unsuitability rules still apply.)

The Zombie Survival Guide is always a winner of a gift, for both bibliophiles and those not book-inclined. I was reminded of its existence today when I arrived at my newly assigned university desk to find one of my colleagues had drawn a mindmap about how the zombie is culturally coded.

Zombies' cultural codingWhich of course reminds me that with my return to uni, most—if not all—fun reading has had to be put away. Maybe book-themed tea towels and luggage tags are exactly what I’m going to need to see me through my degree …

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