The holiday season is upon us—the perfect time of year for gifts! And what makes a better gift than books? We are lucky to have many talented authors in the state of Pennsylvania, including many who live close to Philadelphia. In the spirit of shopping locally this season, here are some of our favorite books by local authors to give as gifts, from our team of children’s and teen book selectors at the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Recommendations for Younger Readers
Accident! by Andrea Tsurumi
We all make mistakes, and sometimes we worry too much about them! In Andrea Tsurumi’s debut picture book, we follow Lola the armadillo as she runs away to the library (“They have books and bathrooms”) after spilling juice all over her family’s white armchair. On her panic run, she meets other animals, each overwhelmed by their own mistakes (“Disaster! Major mess! Big big trouble!”). But they learn it’s okay to make mistakes. Sometimes mistakes are just an accident, and the surest way to make it better is by apologizing and then helping to make it right—something we can all do!
Lily’s Cat Mask by Julie Fortenberry
New experiences can be daunting for everyone; a new school, a new teacher, and new friends are big challenges. And they can be especially hard if one is shy. Lily is not looking forward to going to school. She is not even interested in going shopping with her dad for school supplies, but at the store she sees a cat mask, and things begin to change. The mask gives Lily confidence and allows her the time to adjust. Soon she is finding ways to cope and learning to interact with others, even without her mask. Julie Fortenberry’s book is a lovely story about dealing with transitions in life.
The Ring Bearer by Floyd Cooper
It is a great responsibility to be the ring bearer—especially at your mother’s wedding. A new blended family is coming together—Jackson and his mama, Bill and his daughter, Sophie—and it’s up to Jackson to carry the rings; Sophie will be the flower girl. Can Jackson make it all the way to the altar without a hitch? And what happens when Sophie trips on the steps? Floyd Cooper brings us a story of love and new beginnings in this warm and comforting picture book.
Recommendations for Elementary Schoolers (Grades 2–5)
Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
After the neighborhood bully’s latest cruelty, sensitive Virgil, an 11-year-old Filipino American, goes missing. A misfit, diverse band of his classmates goes looking for him, including the bully. This is a humorous and hopeful story, told from all the characters’ perspectives in easy, short chapters. With themes of bullying, self-acceptance, and intergenerational relationships, this book will appeal to many.
Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille by Jen Bryant
Discover how the Braille alphabet was developed in this easy-to-read picture-book biography about Louis Braille. A clever and precocious child, Braille became blind after a childhood accident at age 5. Frustrated at not being able to read books, he developed a way for the blind to read by touch. Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award
Fish Girl by David Wiesner and Donna Jo Napoli
If your reader hasn’t yet picked up a graphic novel, this might be a good place to start. Readers find a young mermaid being held captive in a boardwalk amusement park. She becomes friends with a human girl, who then helps her to escape and realize her dreams of life beyond the aquarium. Wiesner’s beautiful, lush illustrations complemented by Napoli’s text tell an unusual and entertaining story.
Monica Carnesi and Teresa Arnold are Children’s Material Selectors; and Rachel Fryd is a Young Adult Material Selector from the Free Library of Philadelphia. Tomorrow we will feature recommendations for middle school and high school students, and the Free Library’s 2018 One Book, One Philadelphia children’s and middle grade selections.