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Morning Sun
  • Bound to please: Books for children of all ages and reading stages

  • Books make great holiday gifts for children because they can be enjoyed again and again – then shelved away for future little ones to enjoy, or passed on to friends, family or the local library or elementary school.

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  • Books make great holiday gifts for children because they can be enjoyed again and again – then shelved away for future little ones to enjoy, or passed on to friends, family or the local library or elementary school.
    One of the more beautiful picture books to grace shelves is “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse,” the beloved Aesop Fable retold and illustrated by Helen Ward.
    In this incarnation, a simple country mouse meets his cousin from the big city and decides to visit him at Christmastime. Set in 1930s New York City, Ward’s rich and colorful drawings capture in detail the mouse’s adventures, misadventures and eventual return home. (Candlewick Press; $16.99.)
    Another visually appealing picture book from Candlewick takes an unorthodox approach to “Cinderella.” Author Jane Ray brings the well-loved fairytale to life in colorful, three-dimensional illustrations. As each page is turned, Cinderella’s trials, travails and ultimate triumph spring to life. Side flaps open to reveal the text. ($19.99.)
    In observance of the 70th anniversary of the “Boxcar Children” books series – the serial saga of four orphaned siblings who run away and take up residence in an abandoned boxcar in the woods – publisher Albert Whitman & Co. commissioned author Patricia MacLachlan to write the series’ prequel. “The Boxcar Children Beginning: The Aldens of Fair Meadow Farm” stays true to the writing style of the collection’s original author, Gertrude Chandler Warner, providing “the beginning before the beginning” and answering questions that fans of the series may have been wondering about for decades. ($16.99.)
    ‘Tween lit
    In the seventh book in the wildly popular Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Third Wheel” (Abrams Books; $13.95), protagonist Gregg Heffley faces the social pressures and challenges of junior high.
    “Illusionology – The Secret Science of Magic” will capture the imagination of youngsters interested in sleight of hand and other trickery. Peppered with pop-ups, pockets and flaps, the book includes magic trick how-tos and shares interesting facts about magic as well as tidbits about the most famous magicians. (Candlewick Press; $19.99.)
    Author Liz Kessler first captured the fancy of ’tween fantasy fans with the flagship book in the series “The Tail of Emily Windsnap.” Now comes the box set, “Emily Windsnap – Four Sparkling Underwater Adventures.” (Candlewick Press; $23.96.)
    Raised among humans, young Emily is unaware that she is half-mermaid until the first time she goes swimming. Her world on dry land is turned upside down and she sets out on a journey to discover her true self, which she does in the three sequels included in the box set: “The Siren’s Secret,” “The Castle in the Mist” and “The Monster from the Deep.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Percy’s back
    Fans of storyteller Rick Riordan will devour “The Mark of Athena,” the latest installment in the “Heroes of Olympus” series. In it, the Greek and Roman demigods will have to cooperate to defeat the giants released by the Earth Mother, Gaea, then sail together to the ancient land to find the Doors of Death. Percy, Hazel and Frank unite with Jason, Piper and Leo. But they number only six. Who will complete the Prophecy of Seven? (Disney-Hyperion; $19.99.)
    Rhyme time
    “Make Magic! Do Good!” is an illustrated book of rhymes by Dallas Clayton, who offers important life lessons for kids – and their parents – about being kind, conscientious and – whenever possible – plain silly. (Candlewick Press, $17.99.)
    In “Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind” (Candlewick Press, $17.99), author Gary Ross tells a rhyming tale of a boy who uses his bed sheet to harness the wind and take flight. His wild ride presents him with a series of adventures in which he meets a band of pirates and an eclectic group of playmates.
    Another pirate title, “The High-Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate” by Scott Nash (Candlewick, $17.99) has everything you’d expect from a pirate book, except that all the characters are nonhuman.
    For tiny tots
    Babies and toddlers may sink their teeth into two board books from Candlewick Press – “Fa La La,” a Christmas book by Leslie Patricelli, and “Let’s Play in the Snow” by Sam McBratney.
    “Fa La La” highlights some of the best things about the holiday – picking out a tree, decorating it, visiting Santa and, best of all, opening presents! ($6.99.) In “Let’s Play in the Snow,” Big Nutbrown Hare and his son, Little Nutbrown Hare, enjoy a game of I Spy – and some tender moments. ($4.99.)
    “Playbook Farm” by Corina Fletcher and Britta Teckentrup (for ages 3 and older; Candlewick Press; $24) is more than a pop-up book ... it transforms into a sturdy 3-D play mat with stand-up cardboard play pieces – a farmer, barnyard animals and vehicles – that are then stowed inside an interior pocket in the book’s cover.
    Bedtime fodder
    Teacher/author Judy Laufer wants children to dream a dream so funny they’ll laugh themselves to sleep. “Last Night I Had a Laughmare: Bedtime Adventures in Gigglyville” is a rhyming romp designed to lighten the mood at bedtime, making for a peaceful night’s sleep for all family members. (Little Egg Publishing Co., $16.95.)
    “The Christmas Quiet Book” by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska, is a companion to the New York Times bestsellers “The Quiet Book” and “The Loud Book.” . (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $12.99.)
    Page 3 of 3 - Time for Kids
    Time Home Entertainment Inc. has several specialty titles for kids interested in a variety of subjects: “Full Count: Top 10 Lists of Everything in Baseball,” in which Sports Illustrated Kids ranks the Top 10 hardest throwers, slickest infielders, powerful sluggers, fastest base stealers, best ballparks, oddest windups and much, much more. ($15.95.) “Time for Kids – That’s Strange But True” catalogs strange things like people who smell armpits for a living to grass that grows on cars and needs to be mowed ($19.95); Time for Kids “3-D Zoo Awesome Animal Kingdom” ($19.95) takes a walk on the wild side with 100 large-scale photos.
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