Holiday Hints for the Young and Young at Heart: Gift Guide No. 3

Shopping for the young readers in our lives can be challenging. The children’s section might seem a little daunting if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. There are so many sections, so many reading levels! Where do you start? Fear not, panicked shopper, because we’ve got you covered. For this third list in our Gift Guide series, our booksellers have gathered all their favorite reads of 2021 for the young and young at heart (if you missed the first two installments of our Gift Guide – Heavy Hitters and the Lighter Side – be sure to check those out too!). Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom to see our Spark and ParnassusNext picks for December! Without further ado…

Recommended by Rae Ann

It Fell from the Sky Cover ImageIt Fell from the Sky

The Fan Brothers’ latest creation about a wonder that falls from the sky is full of whimsy and delight.

Recommended by RJ

A House for Every Bird Cover ImageA House for Every Bird

An artist is shocked to find the birds in her drawings rebelling against the carefully color-coded houses she designed for them. A fun story full of colorful, quirky birds that demonstrates the importance of actually listening to people instead of making assumptions about them.

Recommended by Heather

Change Sings: A Children's Anthem Cover ImageChange Sings: A Children’s Anthem

Change Sings is the song of the world I want for my children and grandsons — a world of inclusion, where we see and hear and help one another. It is a prayer for a world in which we work side by side, bringing our unique strengths, abilities and voices to build love.

Recommended by Chelsea

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone Cover ImageNina: A Story of Nina Simone

A look at the life of Nina Simone, richly illustrated by reader favorite Christian Robinson. The intersection of biography, musicology, and history make this a great gift for all types of readers.

Recommended by RJ

Out of Nowhere Cover ImageOut of Nowhere

Striking high-contrast illustrations tell a sweet story about two best bug friends who find themselves separated, then reunited. A simple story with simple charm. Sometimes that’s exactly enough.

Recommended by Chelsea

Why Can't Horses Burp?: Curious Questions About Your Favorite Pets Cover ImageWhy Can’t Horses Burp?: Curious Questions About Your Favorite Pets

Do you know why horses can’t burp? I didn’t until I read this book! Perfect for curious readers and horse lovers alike.

Recommended by RJ

Trying Cover ImageTrying

As a frustrated young sculptor tries and tries to emulate a master, his failures unfold in a series of soft black-and-white illustrations. A tribute to perseverance that teaches us all that failure is a natural, beautiful part of learning any new skill.

Recommended by Chelsea

My First Pop-Up Mythological Monsters: 15 Incredible Pops-Ups Cover ImageMy First Pop-Up Mythological Monsters

Mythological monsters from around the world with a pop-up element. Fun for all ages!

Recommended by Ann

The Beatryce Prophecy Cover ImageThe Beatryce Prophecy

The Beatryce Prophecy is the definition of a modern classic. You turn the pages realizing that people will be moved by Kate DiCamillo’s words and Sophie Blackall’s drawings for generations to come. Brave Beatryce, fierce Answelica and gentle Brother Edik are indelible characters. Buy it in hardback and keep it forever.

Recommended by Rae Ann

How to Save a Queendom Cover ImageHow to Save a Queendom

This is an adventure story of a girl, her chicken, and a magic wizard. I love it!

Recommended by RJ

Willodeen Cover ImageWillodeen

Willodeen must figure out why the adorable hummingbears are disappearing from her village, while also trying to protect the less-cuddly screechers that have been hunted to near extinction. What unfolds is a story about finding the courage to protect nature in all its beautiful, complicated and sometimes smelly glory. Perfect for anyone who needs to find a little more magic in a world that seems to be unraveling.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Fallout: Spies, Superbombs, and the Ultimate Cold War Showdown Cover ImageFallout: Spies, Superbombs, and the Ultimate Cold War Showdown

Cold War history for all ages.

Recommended by Aly

Everything Awesome About Space and Other Galactic Facts! Cover ImageEverything Awesome About Space and Other Galactic Facts!

All the facts you could possibly want about space, paired with really fun illustrations that will keep kids hooked.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Mars Is: Stark Slopes, Silvery Snow, and Startling Surprises Cover ImageMars Is: Stark Slopes, Silvery Snow, and Startling Surprises

Photos of Mars take us closer to this intriguing planet and uncover surprises. This book can be read as picture book or serve as a more in-depth exploration for older readers.

Recommended by RJ

Trouble in the Stars Cover ImageTrouble in the Stars

Following an amnesiac shapeshifter as they flee an enemy they don’t even remember, Trouble in the Stars is a unique sci-fi adventure about family and empathy. Trouble’s shapeshifting powers make them a fascinating and entertaining narrator, as each of their forms has its own quirks and senses. Funny, charming and heartfelt from beginning to end.

Recommended by Rae Ann

The Macmillan Fairy Tales Collection Cover ImageThe Macmillan Fairy Tales Collection

A beautifully illustrated collection of classic fairy tales

Recommended by Rae Ann

Tokyo Ever After: A Novel Cover ImageTokyo Ever After: A Novel

A girl discovers her father is the crown prince of Japan, but royal life isn’t all she expected.

Recommended by RJ

Little Thieves Cover ImageLittle Thieves

If you are looking for the perfect YA fantasy novel to gift this season, Little Thieves has everything. Heists, humor, action, romance, curses, and intrigue. What else could you want?

Recommended by Kathy

The Fountains of Silence Cover ImageThe Fountains of Silence

This story of young people in Spain caught in the throes of conflict provides a wonderful introduction to the Spanish Civil War. This one appeals to both adults and young adults wanting to get wrapped up in a compelling story.

Recommended by Chelsea

Firekeeper's Daughter Cover ImageFirekeeper’s Daughter

This intricate story traces drugs found on Daunis’s reservation. Add in romance, hockey, and the exploration of cultural identity, and you have a layered, compulsive read.

Recommended by RJ

The City Beautiful Cover ImageThe City Beautiful

This dark, haunting historical blends the best of multiple genres to deliver one of the standout books of the year.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Luck of the Titanic Cover ImageLuck of the Titanic

A girl boards the Titanic searching for her brother and a spot in the circus.

Recommended by Chelsea

Kate in Waiting Cover ImageKate in Waiting

A sweet coming-of-age story set in a high school theater department. A great gift for fans of contemporary fiction.

Recommended by RJ

Rise to the Sun Cover ImageRise to the Sun

For anyone who needs some extra summer this holiday season, this heartfelt music festival romance hits all the right notes.

Recommended by Aly

Iron Widow Cover ImageIron Widow

A girl looking for revenge decides to burn down the patriarchy from the inside. A gorgeous debut by the author and a must-read for any YA fan.

Spark Book Club: December Selection

Stuntboy, in the Meantime Cover ImageStuntboy, in the Meantime

By Jason ReynoldsRaúl the Third

The December 2021 Spark Book Club selection is Stuntboy, In the Meantime by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Raúl the Third. Portico Reeves lives in Skylight Gardens, a large apartment building that’s practically a castle. No one in the castle knows Portico is also Stuntboy, a superhero trying to make sure everything in the mean time, sometimes called the Mean Time (of fighting and yelling) turns out okay.

Early Sparks for the novel:

“A boy finds a creative coping mechanism in this original tale that speaks to the heart.” – Kirkus, starred review

“There’s plenty to enjoy about this engaging, high-energy collaboration by Raúl the Third (Strollercoaster) and Reynolds (Stamped)” – Publisher’s Weekly, starred review

Spark Book Club is the first editions club for middle grade readersEvery 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

Fools In Love: Fresh Twists on Romantic Tales Cover ImageFools In Love: Fresh Twists on Romantic Tales

By Ashley Herring Blake (Editor), Rebecca Podos (Editor)

The December 2021 ParnassusNext selection is Fools in Love: Fresh Twists on Romantic Tales edited by Ashley Herring Blake and Rebecca Podos. Fifteen fantastic YA authors bring us stories featuring romance tropes reimagined. From the wild tundra of a fantastical sled race to modern-day superheroes, each story will sweep you off your feet.

Early praise for the novel:

“Fun and frothy, this is a candy box of romantic stories boasting joyful, satisfying conclusions.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“With nonbinary protagonists and an overall strong LGBTQ+ representation, this anthology gives all readers hope that love is out there for everyone.” – Booklist

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.