My Neighbor Totoro By Tsugiko Kubo; story & art by Hayao Miyazaki [VIZ Media, $17.99]
With all the big splashy art books and heavily hyped studio offerings of the season, it’s easy to lose track of the kinder, gentler items that may end up being a young reader’s favorite gifts of the holiday. Miyazaki’s much loved 1988 movie My Neighbor Totoro has millions of fans all over the world, and I bet most of them would love to take a peek at this lovely novelization of the movie, penned by Tsugiko Kubo. Beautifully printed by VIZ Media, the 246-page hardcover offers a faithful retelling of the friendship between an 11-year-old girl and an unusual forest spirit who lives in the woods behind her country home. The book, which also features a few pages of art by Miyazaki himself, would make the perfect companion gift to a DVD of the movie, or one of those much-sought-after Totoro plush toys or pillows. Yet another home run by the smart team at VIZ.