There’s Gold in These Here Holiday Picks: 49 Great Reads for the Young and Young at Heart

This has been a different kind of year, but some of the change has been good — like our new middle-grade subscription box, Spark Book Club! Scroll down for more information about this month’s selection. Along the way, we continue with our 2020 gift guide — see also gift books and memoirs — full of bookseller-recommended picture books, graphic novels, tales for independent readers, and young adult novels galore. Check ’em out and get your orders in ASAP!

New Books
Recommended by Rae Ann

Counting Creatures Cover ImageCounting Creatures

This beautiful lift-the-flap counting book takes readers on a journey of discovery. Rhyming text paired with the animal’s scientific names make this a fun read-aloud.

Recommended by Kay

Frog and Toad Are Friends 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition Cover ImageFrog and Toad Are Friends 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition

This anniversary edition of the beloved classic is a great gift for anyone wanting to share a heartwarming classic with a young reader — or a great friend!

Recommended by Everyone

Escape Goat Cover ImageEscape Goat

Ann Patchett’s new picture book with illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser takes us back to the farm — this time for an irrepressible goat an a lesson in taking responsibility for our actions.

Signed copies!

Holiday & Best of 2020

Mistletoe: A Christmas Story Cover ImageMistletoe: A Christmas Story

A wonderful story of friendship between a mouse named Mistletoe, who loves everything about Christmas, and her elephant pal Norwell, who’s afraid of the cold. A sweet story that’s pitch-perfect for the season.

Christmas Parade Cover ImageChristmas Parade

Chickens with bassoons, ducks with trombones, mice with piccolos — oh my! This uproariously fun board book from Parnassus favorite Sandra Boynton is sure to delight and makes a perfect stocking stuffer.

A Tuba Christmas Cover ImageA Tuba Christmas

Speaking of music, this is the charming story of a girl named Ava who, when given her choice of instrument, goes with the tuba. With a little encouragement, she finds joy in the challenge. A great seasonal story!

Signed copies!

Jack and Santa (A Jack Book #7) Cover ImageJack and Santa (A Jack Book #7)

From Parnassus favorites Mac Barnett and Greg Pizzoli comes the seventh installment in the Jack series. This time, Jack has to prove to Santa that he’s not so bad after all. Sound like someone on your list?

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Cover ImageStopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

This beautifully illustrated edition of Robert Frost’s indelible poem is a timeless favorite, and makes a great gift for the holidays.

If You Come to Earth Cover ImageIf You Come to Earth

What a great way to celebrate all we have and share on this planet of ours! Great for reading to curious future travelers!

The Barnabus Project Cover ImageThe Barnabus Project

Barnabus lives with the other “failed projects” below a store full of “perfect pets.” He longs to be free, and he’ll need his friends if they’re ever to escape. Another wonderful picture book from the Fan brothers!

I Am Every Good Thing Cover ImageI Am Every Good Thing

A book bursting with Black boy joy from the author of King of Kindergarten and the writer-illustrator team of Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut. An uplifting, empowering read!

More picture books we loved this year:

New Books
Recommended by Ann

Kate DiCamillo: Six Classic Novels Cover ImageKate DiCamillo: Six Classic Novels

No kidding, all six of these books are classics. Buy them for children of any age. Buy them for yourself. Open your heart to wonder. I love these books so much.

Read Ann’s essay about Kate DiCamillo here!

Recommended by Rae Ann

50 Adventures in the 50 States Cover Image50 Adventures in the 50 States

This book highlights an amazing adventure in every state, including Tennessee’s fabulous firefly light show!

Recommended by Chelsea

Curious Lists for Kids – Human Body Cover ImageCurious Lists for Kids – Human Body

Perfect for a kid who loves facts, lists, and/or science! This cool illustrated book is full of neat info about the human body.

Recommended by Patsy

Modern Art Explorer: Discover the Stories Behind Famous Artworks Cover ImageModern Art Explorer: Discover the Stories Behind Famous Artworks

A great book to inspire young imaginations while we’re not traveling. This one offers a visit to the Pompidou Center’s collection in Paris

Best of 2020

No Ordinary Thing Cover ImageNo Ordinary Thing

In our Spark Book Club selection for March, a stranger shows up at the bakery where Adam works and shows him a mysterious snow globe. Soon a time-travel adventure full of magic and mystery is under way.

Curious? Read an excerpt here on Musing!

Snapdragon Cover ImageSnapdragon

A town witch, a litter of orphaned possums, and bit of magic shape this story of Snap, a girl who, as bookseller Kay put it in her Staff Pick, learns a lot about “the power of being a strange kid in a sometimes scary world.”

The Magic Fish Cover ImageThe Magic Fish

This is a wonderfully illustrated graphic novel about a boy named Tiến who reads books from the library with his parents, who are learning English. He uses fairy tales as a way to connect with them, making for a beautiful and heartfelt story about communicating across differences.

The Silver Arrow Cover ImageThe Silver Arrow

Kate asks for a train for her 11th birthday and gets one. Turns out it’s a magic train that zips her and her brother on adventures all over the world! Ann called this book “incredible,” after hearing author Lev Grossman read the first chapter at a virtual event. All aboard!

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga #1) Cover ImageOn the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga #1)

The first of the Wingfeather saga (see below for more), On the Edge of the Sea of Darkness is a rollicking adventure about family and sticking together through hard times.

Baloney and Friends (Baloney & Friends #1) Cover ImageBaloney and Friends (Baloney & Friends #1)

We love the first installment in this new series of graphic novels for new independent readers. As always, Greg Pizzoli’s illustrations are fun and energetic, and his tale of Baloney and his buddies is a delight.

New Books
Recommended by Kay

The Lunar Chronicles Boxed Set: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Stars Above, Winter Cover ImageThe Lunar Chronicles Boxed Set: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Stars Above, Winter

One of my all-time favorite YA series, repackaged with a new set of gorgeous matching illustrated covers. Perfect for YA readers of all ages looking a sci-fi fairy-tale escape.

Recommended by Becca

Here the Whole Time Cover ImageHere the Whole Time

By Vitor Martins & Larissa Helena (Translated by)

When Felipe’s cute neighbor Caio is forced to spend two weeks sleeping over while his parents are on vacation, Felipe is prepared to spend the entire time hiding in his room. He’s not prepared for the possibility that Caio might be just as interested in him. Pop culture references abound in this beautiful story about true love hiding right behind the walls that you’ve set up to protect yourself.

Best of 2020

Burn Our Bodies Down Cover ImageBurn Our Bodies Down

Our ParnassusNext selection for July, Rory Wilder’s eerie, captivating follow-up to Wilder Girls follows Margot as she returns to the town her mother left behind — maybe for good reason.

We Are Not Free Cover ImageWe Are Not Free

A group of Nisei — second-generation Japanese American citizens — find their world turned upside down during World War II as the U.S. government forces them into internment camps. Author Traci Chee based her fantastic historical novel on a part of her own family’s story. A ParnassusNext selection and National Book Award finalist!

Signed copies!

The Enigma Game Cover ImageThe Enigma Game

It’s true: We consider the books we choose for our ParnassusNext subscription box to be some of the best, so it’s no surprise to find The Enigma Game on this year-end list as well. A terrific thriller set against the backdrop of World War II Europe, as three unlikely collaborators work to break a code that can change the tide of history.

Grown Cover ImageGrown

A teenage singer named Enchanted Jones gets caught up in a predatory relationship with a much older celebrity named Jackson, and the result is an insightful, difficult, compassionate story about love and power.

I Killed Zoe Spanos Cover ImageI Killed Zoe Spanos

Anna becomes obsessed with her connection to a missing girl named Zoe, who she learns bears a strong physical resemblance. When Zoe turns up dead, Anna — who is new to town — confesses to killing her. Bookseller Chelsea calls this a “mind-bending mystery” that kept her “guessing at every turn.”

More YA books we loved this year:

Spark Book Club: December Selection

Girl Giant and the Monkey King Cover ImageGirl Giant and the Monkey King

The Spark Book Club selection for December is Girl Giant and the Monkey King by Van Hoang.

Thom Ngho is strong. Super strong. She’s not sure why or how, but she knows she must cover it up during soccer games and at home with her mom. When the Monkey King appears to her and offers her a deal, help him with a task and he’ll take away her super strength, she agrees. When she trusts the trickster, she’s in for a wild adventure through a mythological kingdom full of dragons and jade princesses.

Early Sparks for the novel:

“A fantastic tale of adventure, humor, and mischief.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“This entertaining blend of the mundane and fantastical is packed with emotion and sure to strike a chord with readers.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Spark Book Club is the first editions club for middle grade readers. Every month members will receive a first edition middle grade novel — plus a letter written by the author especially for club members. Makes a great gift for the independent reader! Sign ups are available for 3, 6, or 12 months.

ParnassusNext December Selection

The December ParnassusNext selection is These Violent Delights by debut author Chloe Gong. This Romeo and Juliet-inspired fantasy set in 1920’s Shanghai follows Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov as they investigate a deadly madness that’s sweeping the city. As heirs to rival criminal organizations, Juliette and Roma’s loyalties will be tested as the death toll rises and dark secrets come to light.

Early buzz for the novel:

“A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“Gong’s debut is not to be missed. With a dazzling setting, a mysterious series of murders, and diverse, unapologetically criminal characters, this novel ranks with the greatest YA retellings.” —School Library Journal (starred review)

“A deliciously dark twist on Romeo and Juliet that feels vibrant, modern, and wholly exciting. Gong’s writing brims with energy. I was swept away to her dark Shanghai from the first page and never wanted to leave!” —Natasha Ngan, New York Times bestselling author of Girls of Paper and Fire

ParnassusNext is the book subscription box for YA lovers. Every member of ParnassusNext receives a first edition hardcover of each month’s selected book, signed by the author. There is no membership fee to join — and no line to stand in for the autograph. Not only will you have one of the best YA books of the month when it comes out, you’ll have it straight from the author’s hands, with an original, authentic signature! Set up a subscription for yourself or buy a gift membership for your favorite YA reader for 3, 6, or 12 months.

Our bookstore elves are working as hard as they can, but shipping and supply chain delays mean it’s more important than ever to get your order in as soon as possible!