by Ann M. Colford & r & Books make great gifts, especially in the depths of winter. On days like these, what's better than making a cocoon of fleece, pouring a hot cup of tea (or perhaps a stronger libation) and getting comfy with a pile of good books? Of course, it's hard to know someone else's taste in books, but within broad categories, here are a few recommendations from my own bookshelf. (For help with the children's books, I consulted the staff at Children's Corner Books and Toys.)
CHILDREN'S BOOKS & r & One of the most popular books this year is Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner, a follow-up to 2002's Snowmen at Night. Here, the people of snow venture out for their own celebration of everyone's favorite holiday. A staff favorite at Children's Corner is Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson. Mortimer the mouse is searching for a new house, and he finds a perfect little rustic place -- except there's already a family of statue people there. In Winter Lights: A Season of Poems and Quilts, illustrator Anna Grossnickle Hines celebrates all the winter holidays of lights with pieces of colorful quilts and snatches of poetry. In the back, she explains how the quilts were made.
One of my favorite books when I was a kid was Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. I loved the simple illustrations and the modest story of the little boy with the big imagination, big enough that he could create his own world. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the round-headed tyke -- man, that's hard to swallow -- but the story is still an antidote to a world full of gewgaws and techno-gizmos.