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by The Editors of Publishers Weekly and AARP The Magazine, AARP The Magazine, January 1, 2010
We've teamed up with the editors of Publishers Weekly to scour the latest titles, from books for babies to cutting-edge fiction and nonfiction for teens, to help you find that just-right book for your grandchild.
Carl's Snowy Afternoon
By Alexandra Day (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $12.99; all ages)
The latest in the long-running series has the beloved Rottweiler and his cherubic cohort, Madeleine, enjoying activities such as sledding and making snowmen, but returning home—as always—before their absence is discovered
Sophie Peterman Tells the Truth!
By Sarah Weeks, illus. by Robert Neubecker (S&S/Beach Lane Books, $16.99; ages 4-8)
In this standout offering about the woes of a new sibling, outspoken Sophie doesn't mince words: a baby—a.k.a. a "monster"—is "your worst nightmare!" Don't worry, though; Sophie softens a bit in the end.
The Gingerbread Pirates
By Kristin Kladstrup, illus. by Matt Tavares (Candlewick Press, $16.99; ages 4-10)
When a boy's gingerbread pirate comes to life on Christmas Eve, his first mission is to save his crew from being eaten by Santa. This laugh-out-loud story may well become a new holiday favorite.
Long Tail Kitty
By Lark Pien (Blue Apple Books, $14.99; ages 4 and up)
Five stories about the eponymous feline provide a whimsical introduction both to the graphic-novel format and to gentle friendships. Alert readers will enjoy the wealth of humorous visual and textual details.
The Steel Pan Man of Harlem
By Colin Bootman (Lerner/Carolrhoda Books, $16.99; ages 5-9)
Bootman's dreamy version of the Pied Piper of Hamelin is set during the Harlem Renaissance, when a mysterious visitor who plays captivating melodies on his steel pan offers to rid the neighborhood of rats.
FOR THE ELEMENTARY SET
The True Gift: A Christmas Story
By Patricia MacLachlan, illus. by Brian Floca (S&S/Atheneum, $12.99; ages 7 and up)
In this tender chapter book, Liam visits his grandparents for the holidays, where he becomes determined to raise money to purchase a bovine friend for the lonely white cow on their farm.
By Emily Diamand (Scholastic/Chicken House, $17.99; ages 8-12)
Diamand's story takes place in a watery, post-technological Britain of the future. Strong male and female protagonists, page-turning action, and a sense of humor make this a good pick for adventure lovers.
By Iain Lawrence (Delacorte Press, $16.99; ages 8-12)
Set in 1955 just before the release of Jonas Salk's vaccine, Lawrence's tale follows 11-year-old Laurie, who visits her best friend, Dickie, in the polio ward. There she invents adventurous stories for Dickie and the other "polios."
By Cynthia Chapman Willis (Feiwel and Friends, $16.99; ages 9-13)
Joey's parents have a rocky relationship. That his father can't wait for Joey to shoot his first deer—when Joey would rather play hockey and draw—helps matters not at all. A thoughtful examination of a boy's inner struggles.
A Thousand Years of Pirates
By William Gilkerson (Tundra Books, $32.95; ages 10 and up)
Rare is the child not enthralled by the mystique of pirate life. Gilkerson's sumptuously painted nonfiction account explores buccaneers from Vikings to conquistadors to Blackbeard.
Claim to Fame
By Margaret Peterson Haddix (Simon & Schuster, $16.99; ages 10-14)
Lindsay, a reclusive former child TV star, is forced to reenter the world and deal with her singular ability/curse: she can hear anything being said about her anywhere in the world. Thought-provoking and compelling.
A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts: A Collection of Deliciously Frightening Tales
By Ying Chang Compestine, illus. by Coleman Polhemus (Henry Holt/Christy Ottaviano Books, $16.99; ages 12 and up)
Ideal for teens who relish a good scare, these eight chilling stories center on the Chinese legend of "hungry" ghosts—the souls of those who died unjustly. The tales are entwined with themes of food; for those who can maintain an appetite amid the apparitions, Chinese recipes are included.
Far from Gringo Land
By Edward Myers (Clarion Books, $17; ages 12 and up)
Teenage Rick spends a summer with family friends in Mexico, but it's no beach vacation. Instead, Rick takes part in the backbreaking construction of the family's new home and wrestles with issues of class and ethnicity.
By Lauren Kate (Delacorte Press, $16.99; ages 12 and up)
For fans of Twilight, how about angels rather than demons? Sent to a gloomy boarding school, Luce is captivated by the mysterious Daniel. The atmospheric setting and supernatural romance will draw readers in.
The Brothers Story
By Katherine Sturtevant (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99; ages 14 and up)
During the winter of 1863, Kit flees village life in Essex and his "simple" twin brother for the freedom, opportunities, and excitement of London. A provocative and moving coming-of-age story.
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