The Thoughtful Holiday Gift List for the Booklovers in Your Life

For the Mystery Lover


For the Relaxation Seeker


For the Picture Book Lover


For the Movie Lover


For the Older Child


For the Childlike Adventure Seeker


For the Poirot Lover


For the Poetry Lover


For the Literarature Lover


For the Romantic Escapist


For the Charming Vintage Romance Novel Lover


For the Classics Lover


For the Person Who Has Little Time to Read


For the Music Lover


For the Anne of Green Gables Fan


For Yourself


Or If You Prefer Something More Contemporary

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

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  • Title: Madeline
  • Author and Illustrator: Ludwig Bemelmans
  • Published: 1939
  • Main Characters: Madeline (a young girl), her eleven friends, Miss Clavel, their teacher at the convent.

Short Synopsis of the Story: This is the story of a little French girl called Madeline who is schooled at a Parisian convent along with eleven other girls. Miss Clavel is their primary teacher and caregiver and oversees their meals, their daytime walks around Paris, their visits to the Zoo and other places and of course their bedtimes. Once, in the very middle of the night Miss Clavel is awoken by crying from the girl’s dormitory and finds that Madeline is in considerable pain. She is rushed quite suddenly to the hospital where she has her appendix taken out. Madeline’s friends visit her at the hospital and are delighted to see the toys, gifts and attention that is being lavished on Madeline by her Papa. Moreover, Madeline shows them her operational scar with great pride.

The next day, in the middle of the night Miss Clavel awakens most fearfully and rushes to the girl’s room. All the girls cry that they are in great pain and need to visit the hospital too!

Notes: The tale is told in rhyming verse and it is quite enjoyable to read and follow the pictures and verse.

Particularly attractive are the vivid illustrations of famous monuments and buildings in Paris: the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Opera House, the Luxembourg Gardens and more…

There are a series of Madeline books, some of them set in different cities (like Madeline in London) and with different themes (Madeline’s Christmas). I think these books are a nice way to get children acquainted with different places around the globe and global traditions.

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

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  • Title: Blueberries for Sal
  • Author and Illustrator: Robert McCloskey
  • Published: 1948
  • Main Characters: Sal (a very young child), her Mother, a mother Bear and her child Little Bear…

Short Synopsis of the Story: It is late summer and on Blueberry Hill the blueberry bushes are ripe for picking. Sal a young child and her mother laden with metal pails head over to Blueberry Hill to pick blueberries to can and preserve for the long winter ahead. Sal’s mother picks blueberries industriously but most of Sal’s blueberries make it into her mouth!

On the other side of Blueberry Hill a Mother Bear and her small cub are similarly employed in gathering blueberries. The Mother Bear wants to eat as many blueberries as she can before she and her cub hibernate for the long winter.

As luck would have it, Sal and her mother and the Mother Bear and her bear cub find themselves separated in their blueberry picking endeavours. Sal comes face to face with the Mother Bear who being very shy moves away from Sal. Similarly Sal’s Mother is caught unawares and finds herself face to face with the Little Bear.

Sal’s mother alarmedly rushes to search for Sal.

She hasn’t looked very far when she hears the familiar sound of blueberries plopping into an empty pail.

Little Bear’s mother has not searched very far before she hears a familiar hustling, munching and swallowing sound.

Little Bear and his mother and Little Sal and her mother are reunited and laden or filled with a great many blueberries they make their way home down opposite sides of Blueberry Hill.

Notes:  The favorite part of the story for me were the lovely line drawings of Robert McCloskey. The beautiful endpapers depicting a cozy kitchen scene where Sal and her Mother are busy canning blueberries are particularly charming. The story conveys the message that the animal instinct of storing food in scarcity is preserved across different species. The blubbery picking scenes are reminiscent of Maine where it seems McCloskey stayed. This is a gem of a book.

Particularly endearing are the descriptions of Sal plopping blueberries into her pail with a ‘kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk ‘ sound.

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Tuesday by David Wiesner

Title: Tuesday

Author and Illustrator: David Wiesner

Published: 1991

Main Characters: Some frogs on their airborne lilypads, sleepy inhabitants of a town, some pigs…

Short Synopsis of the Story: ‘Tuesday’ is the tale of a series of animal invasions that strike at a particular time and place, namely Tuesday evening at around eight o’clock in a small suburb. Frogs invade the skies in hundreds of thousands, flying along on lilypad aircraft. They invade backyards or dark sitting rooms where people are dozing off in front of the television. Neither the press nor the police know what to make of it the morning after, when the town is strewn with abandoned lilypads. It is a great inexplicable mystery.

All is well until next Tuesday at the same time… a shadow of a flying pig is seen eerily set against a barn door…

Conclusion:  This is a book that both children and adults can enjoy. The pictures tell the story of their own accord. There is little need for words to accompany the excellent pictures. ‘Tuesday’ has a mysterious, eery air to it. It will make you use your imagination and lends new meaning to the idiom- ‘pigs might fly’.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Title: Goodnight Moon

Author: Margaret Wise Brown

Illustrator: Clement Hurd

Published: 1947

Main Characters: a little bunny, an elderly lady bunny.

Short Synopsis of the Story: It is seven o’clock at night and a little bunny in striped blue pajamas is lying in bed in his green bedroom. There are many objects in the green room that are described in great detail- a telephone, a balloon, some kittens and a pair of mittens and also an elderly lady bunny sitting by the fire knitting, willing the little bunny to go to sleep. The large bedroom window is partially draped to reveal a midnight blue night sky with many stars. The bright lights in the green room gradually grow dim, casting light and shadow across the objects in the room, lulling the little bunny into sleep. As we say goodnight to each little object in the room, the bunny gets sleepier and sleepier, the rooms gets darker and darker, the stars get brighter in the night sky and the moon appears like a white lump of cheese. Soon the green room is completely dark except for the light shining in the red doll’s house and the red flames of the fire. The little bunny falls asleep.

Favorite Part of the Story:  This is the quintessential bedtime book. Visually it is a very appealing book. The details of the little objects in the room are captivating. The pairing of the beautiful images with the simple repetitive rhyme of the story lulls us into sleep. The transition of the lighted green room into the darkened green room, illuminated by the starry night sky outside and the doll’s house lights inside is perhaps the most memorable part of the story.

This is a nice book to introduce to children from a very early age as a daily bedtime ritual. It is understandable why this is a timeless classic for children.