EZ Gift Picks: Books and More for Joyful Giving

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There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned, beautiful book. Here, our top picks for the children in your life.


Land Shark
By Beth Ferry,
Illustrated by Ben Mantle
Ages 3 to 5

What happens when you don’t get what your heart desires for Christmas?

Just ask Bobby.

More than anything, he wanted a shark. What a disappointment when what he got instead was a puppy!

Can a shark lover become a dog lover?

This book explores the idea that, when you’re a pre-schooler —and even when you’re an adult — getting exactly what you don’t want may turn out to be exactly what you need.

2.  Leo: A Ghost Story
By Mac Barnett, illustrated by Christian Robinson
Ages 3 to 5

A picture book that’s been described as “dazzling” in reviews, this is the story of a friendly ghost whose intentions are misunderstood when a new family moves into his house. This motivates him to venture into the wider world where he meets up with Jane, whose imagination leads the new friends into delightful adventures.

3. Ninja Baby
By David Zeltser
Illustrated by Diane Goode
Ages 3 to 7

Nina is an unusually gifted child — a ninja from birth. She obliterates her applesauce. She conceals herself at bath time. Then, one day, her parents bring home a Kung Fu Master (a baby brother). Imagine what happens next.

4. The Adventures of Beekle
By Dan Santat
Ages 3 to 6

The winner of the 2015 Caldecott Medal is an irresistible take of an imaginary friend. Born on a far away island, he patiently waits his turn to be chosen by a real child, but when he is overlooked time and again, he sets off on a journey, finally meeting his perfect match.

A best-seller, this is an enchanting book about the power of imagination, the value of friendship and the courage to find one’s place in the world.

5. Wild Ideas
By Elin Kelsey
Illustrated by Soyeon Kim
Ages 5 to 12

This informational picture book explores how animals solve problems. Whether it’s weaving a safe place to rest and reflect, blowing a fine net of bubbles to trap fish, or leaping boldly into a new situation, the animals featured (including the orangutang, humpback whale and gibbon) offer inspiration for creative problem solving.
With science matched by wonderfully detailed art, Wild Ideas invites readers to indulge their sense of wonder and curiosity by observing the natural world, engaging with big ideas and asking questions. An author’s note at the end delves deeper into the research behind the text.

6. Mad About Monkeys
By Owen Davey
Ages 3 to 7, but older kids may enjoy, too

Every kid is fascinated by our simian cousins and this richly creative book with illustrations and texts helps us get to know the whole family. It’s the who, why, when and where of monkeydom and most importantly, answers the question (among others), “But why such colorful bums?”

7. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear
By Lindsay Mattick
Illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Ages 3 to 7

Who knew, growing up in Winnipeg and reading A. A. Milne, that Winnie the Pooh was named for Winnipeg? Now Canadian children can get the whole story of the connection between the prairie city and the beloved honey-loving creature in this true story, written by the Toronto-based great-granddaughter of Harry Colebourn, who named the orphan bear for his hometown. Picked as a New York Times Notable Children’s Book of 2015.

8. How the Sun Got to Coco’s House
By Bob Graham
Ages 4 to 7

A gentle tale of cosmic importance, this sweet book follows the sun on its journey around the world, beginning at Coco’s house., visiting the Arctic, Asia, shining through windows, making the snow sparkle, sending rays through an airplane window. Making its way back to Coco’s house, the sun and the child spend the day together “but for a few passing clouds.”

9. Miss Petitfour
By Anne Michaels
Illustrated by Emma Block
Ages 6 to 9

A delicious book about an eccentric, enchanted lady and her mischievous felines, her iced cakes and her flying adventures.
Lovely language from poet and “Fugitive Pieces” author Anne Michaels and fetching illustrations that perfectly match the whimsical tone.

10. The Menino

By Isol
Translated by Elisa Amado
All ages

Menino is the Portuguese word for baby but, in this oddly beguiling book from Canada’s Anansi Press, it might as well be the word for “alien” — because that’s just how the text and illustrations by renowned author Isol regards a new baby. It’s a startlingly fresh perspective on the bizarreness of babydom and everything associated with it, from birthing and nursing to peeing and napping: “The Menino has been on a long voyage and needs to sleep.”

11. Brainspace Magazine
Ages 8 to 14

Not a book but a subscription to an award-winning Canadian magazine that challenges and entertains with the all-important Stem subjects: science, technology, engineering and math.

The print pages are interactive with tablets/cell phones via the free Blippar App.

The issues are sent directly to the child in a sealed white envelope. A card with a sentiment from the parent or grandparent can be included.

Arrange a gift subscription online ([email protected]) or by calling toll free 1-844-330-4314.

12. The Bear’s Song Puzzle
Illustrated by Benjamin Chaud
Ages 3 and up

Two gorgeous scenes from Benjamin Chaud’s beloved books The Bear’s Song and The Bear’s Sea Escape are re-created as 24-piece, double-sided puzzles — fun for little ones and grown-ups who can help them.