Ages 1-5

Winnipeg Free Press - - WEEKEND REVIEW - BY HE­LEN NOR­RIE

CHRIST­MAS is a time of giv­ing, and what could be a bet­ter gift than one that gives both de­light and in­spi­ra­tion? A book for a preschooler can be a win­dow into a new world, or a chance to share pre­cious time with a favourite care­giver. For an older child or teenager, it can be an op­por­tu­nity to be alone, to be en­thralled, or amused, or in­formed.

So for­get those Black Fri­day or Cy­ber Mon­day pur­chases un­der your tree. Pick a book for your favourite young reader and your gift will not only last un­til next Christ­mas it may even be passed on to be en­joyed by oth­ers. Here are just a few sug­ges­tions for young read­ers of all ages. IF your youngest reader is a di­nosaur fan, try Dino-Christ­mas by Michi­gan au­thor Lisa Wheeler, and with il­lus­tra­tions by Barry Gott (Lerner Pub­lish­ing, 32 pages, $26, hard­cover).

Wheeler writes in rhyming verse as she de­picts more than a dozen dif­fer­ent kinds of di­nosaurs get­ting ready for Christ­mas: “Di­plo decks the halls with ease / hangs tin­sel on the Christ­mas trees / Tricer­atops is feel­ing merry / lights up ev­ery top­i­ary.” Wheeler has made a ca­reer out of Dino story books, in­clud­ing Dino-Danc­ing.

Ohio artist Gott has added plenty of bril­liantly coloured pic­tures of the di­nosaurs at play. ●●●

Right in line with fem­i­nist aware­ness, Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins, by Vir­ginia writer Sue Fliess and with il­lus­tra­tions by March Cham­bers (Two Lions, 32 pages, $24, hard­cover) is a pic­ture book that will es­pe­cially ap­peal to lit­tle girls.

When Santa comes down with a cold and threat­ens to can­cel Christ­mas, Mrs. Claus steps in to de­liver presents world­wide. De­spite tor­na­does and snow­storms, leak­ing fuel and a col­li­sion with a way­ward duck, Mrs. Claus per­se­veres and gets the job done. Cham­bers’ pic­tures are big and bold.

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We’ve all been told no two snowflakes are alike. But what if they used to be iden­ti­cal? What if their dif­fer­ences are due to a mis­take some­where in the clouds?

U.K. au­thor Lou Tre­leaven poses this sce­nario in her pic­ture book The Snowflake Mis­take (Mav­er­ick, 32 pages, $24, hard­cover). Writ­ten in rhyming verse, it tells how Princess El­lie, left in charge while the Snow Queen is off on an­other mis­sion, speeds up the snowflake ma­chine and causes it to break down. Her so­lu­tion? Make the snowflakes by hand with as­sis­tance from help­ful birds. Tre­leaven even gives di­rec­tions for read­ers to make their own snowflakes.

Bos­ton artist Mad­die Frost has scanned var­i­ous tex­tures and pa­pers to make her at­trac­tive pic­tures.

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With a plot that seems like a com­bi­na­tion of Cin­derella and Char­lie and the Cho­co­late Fac­tory, Los An­ge­les authors (and partners) Scott Icenogle and Sean Hayes, both of Will and Grace tele­vi­sion fame, have writ­ten Plum: How the Su­gar Plum Fairy Got her Wings (Si­mon and Schus­ter, 48 pages, $24, hard­cover).

Plum is raised in an or­phan­age where she is mocked and ig­nored, but ow­ing to her sweet na­ture, she is adopted by the King of the Land of Sweets. Her pres­ence res­cues the land from a de­pres­sion that has caused ev­ery­thing to sour ,and res­tores a mul­ti­tude of sweets. As her re­ward Plum is granted her wings.

De­spite its rather trite story, L.A. artist Robin Thomp­son’s charm­ing il­lus­tra­tions make this an at­trac­tive book for young read­ers. ●

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