Franklin Countys First News

The Holiday 20

Presenting 20 excellent book suggestions for every sort of reader, just in time for the holidays.

Unique Title:

Snook Alone, by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering

Snook Alone is the tale of a beloved rat terrier, the companion of a gentle Monk living in a faraway sea, who has been asked to catalog the plant and animal species of their small part of the Indian Ocean. Snook, marooned by rough weather, must wait out the storm alone. The warmth of affection, the beauty of the Indian Ocean, the wonder of exploration, the tension of waiting, are all captured superbly in this marvel of a picture book for all ages.

Chaos Walking Trilogy, by Patrick Ness

These three books are set on a frontier planet with a small group of inhabitants. Reminiscent of the settlement of the New World in the sixteenth century, the nature of good and evil to change and adapt has rarely been handled in a more original manner. Emotionally riveting, structurally complex, and brilliantly executed, here we have a story as profound as it is exciting.

Coffee Table Book:


Dogs, by Tim Flach

When a book declares itself to be too amazing to be stuck on a shelf it had better have the jaw dropping photos to back that attitude up. Dogs is more than up to the task as Tim Flach's incredible photographs seem to just expand as the pages are flipped. This is a book to warm any dog lover's heart.


Keys to Good Cooking, by Harold McGee

There are quite a few good cookbooks out this season but Keys To Good Cooking: A Guide To Making The Best Of Foods and Recipes stands out among them because, as its title indicates, it makes every other cookbook you have better. McGee provides straightforward advice and insight into every aspect of the cooking experience, from shopping and choosing tools to preparation and hands on cooking. This will be a welcome and well used gift for anyone who enjoys their time in the kitchen.


Layover in Dubai, by Dan Fesperman

Dan Fesperman is a writer who delivers thrillers with a plus. His book are thrilling, so that's covered, but his careful research,  his eye for historical detail and interesting social and cultural divisions, have always left his readers with a richer understanding of the settings of his books. All of Fesperman's strengths are on display in his latest novel, Layover in Dubai.

The Passage, by Justin Cronin

For a Holiday Season gift of fiction, you want a big book that's big fun, and The Passage is all that. A calamitous future, fascinatingly developed over a broad span of time, characters you grow attached too, lots of unexpected twists and turns, flashes of grand style set amidst a hurtling pace, is just the thing to spend some time hunkered down with.

Non Fiction:

The Wave, by Susan Casey

Not only are the oceans rising, but so are the size and frequency of its giant, rogue and freakish waves. This riveting account the of the scientists who seek to understand them, the salvage specialists who deal with its larger victims, and the big wave surfers who travel the globe to attempt to ride them, has something for everyone. Fascinating science, fascinating sociology, and larger than life exploits under outsized conditions

At Home: A Short History of Private Life, by Bill Bryson

For his newest release, popular author Bill Bryson has chosen to explore one of the few things not included in his last book, A Short History of Nearly Everything. He could hardly have done a better job saving the best for last, as what could be a more interesting topic than the history of private life. Bryson’s trademark humor and conceptual intrigue are everywhere evident here.

Maine Interest:

For Adults: Poachers Son, by Paul Doiron

This is a terrific thriller about a young Maine Game Warden whose woodsman father becomes a murder suspect on the run. The Warden, at risk of his career, helps track down his father deep in the North woods. Poacher's Son captures a Maine rarely seen in popular fiction, and, for a first time novel, garnered a rare number of  rave reviews from some of America's most prominent writers, John Lescroat, Andre Dubus III, Nelson De Mille, Tess Gerritsen, and C.J. Box, to name a few!


Maine in Four Seasons, edited by Wes Mcnair, illustrated by Jan Owen

This lovely anthology of twenty Maine poets, with its small size and elegant design, is a perfect gift for nature and language lovers.

For Children:

Learning to Ski With Mr. Magee, by Chris Van Dusen

Mr. Magee is back! The beloved character has gone camping, has been down to the sea, and now, at long last, he learns to ski. This delightful book of warmth and humor from Maine author and illustrator Chris Van Dusen will be worn threadbare by Mr. Magee fans on couches and at bedtimes across Maine.

Touch Blue, by Cynthia Lord

If Goldilocks had found a pile of middle grade novels on the table at the Bear's house, rather than bowls of porridge, the returning bear family would have found her engrossed in Touch Blue rather than sleeping upstairs. This tale — set on a Maine island whose families with school age children takes on a few foster children to keep their school from being shut down by the state - is the epitome of being just right. The book's ultimate message, that a person can belong in more than one place, and have more than one home, is a truly important one. Rules fans will be anything but disappointed in this gentle and profound second novel.



Interactive Book:

My Little Pink Princes Purse, by Stephen Johnson

The maker of last year's hit interactive book, My Little Red Fire Truck, has stuck out in a bold new direction, delivering something no Princess minded youngster could be unmoved by.  I mean to say, we had to tear the pull the sparkling rings, precious stone laden tiara, and jewel encrusted mirror, from the hands of our Karen West, pictured here. And those were only the items woven into the story on the first five pages!  Hours of creative play await the recipient of this book.

The Pop Up Book, by Ruth Wickings

What could be more interactive than a book that gives kids everything they need to make an interactive book? No scissors or glue are needed, as all the parts are sticky backed peel away pieces. This fascinating and well conceived pop up book maker will both entertain and inspire engineering minded youngsters.


Picture Books:

The Quiet Book, by Debra Underwood, Illustrated by Renata Liwska

The Quiet Book is a wonderfully simple exploration of one complex idea, all the different kinds of quiet, such as "Hide-N-Seek quiet, Right before you yell SURPRISE Quiet, First snowfall Quiet, and Lollypop Quiet." Each page is a world unto itself. Gentle and evocative drawings convey the emotional range of being quiet in a manner which will make for a truly thoughtful read aloud experience for reader and child.

Shark vs. Train, by Chris Barton

The best picture books deal with an important issue without it ever being apparent to young readers and listeners. Shark vs. Train deals with rivalry and competition issues in a manner so clever and funny that one can only applaud and turn back to page 1 for another read. I am happy to report that, even though it has been picked off the shelf more often than its shelf mates Shark vs. Train has been modest and well mannered regarding this good fortune and not stuck its tongue out nor hurled fleering jibes at less popular titles on its way out the store.


Christmas in the Time of Billy Lee, by Jerdine Nolen, Illustrated by Barry Moser

This is a truly moving story of a young girl whose grandmother encourages her to feel that “there is magic in believing in something good with all your heart." Ellie makes a Christmas tree outdoors in the woods at the highest point in the town and wishes for something wonderful to come and bring happiness to her troubled family and troubled town. The ending is a lovely affirmation of the power of small gestures and thoughtfulness to grant a simple, but important wish.

Fletcher and The Snowflake Christmas, by Julia Rawlinson, Illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

Fletcher the fox worries that his friends, the rabbit family, who have just moved to a new burrow, will miss out on Christmas since Santa will not know where their new home is. Though it turns out that there was nothing to worry about, Santa’s address forwarding mechanism far exceeds anything available to the U.S. Postal Service, it is Fletcher’

Young Adult and Middle Grade:

Crunch, by Leslie Connor

Crunch is a wonder of an old fashioned read aloud story for the whole family. As our own Amy Graham writes of it, “All my favorite elements are here: siblings who stick together, a strong sense of community and place, innovative problem solving, and an appreciation for the good things in life (a bike ride, dinner with friends, satisfaction taken in an honest day's work, self-expression through art). And that's not to mention the deftly imagined gasoline shortage that has turned highways into bike paths.”

Tyger Tyger, by Kersten Hamilton

This dynamic reimagining of the Irish mythos in modern-day Chicago is loaded with convincing romantic tension, intelligent, three dimensional characters, and atmospheric power. Hamilton does a great job extrapolating the Finnian cycle into latter day descendants of Finn and the Children of Amergin and Maeve. Lots of surprises and interesting twists and turns, along with some real depth in the relationship between the half high born Goblin Teagan, and the young Goblin hunter Finn, will hook young readers of both sexes. The story is also bolstered by a good number of intriguing minor characters, great evil doers, and lots dangling plot threads calling out for a book two.
Whatever gifts you choose to share with your loved ones make sure to purchase them from the stores which share a community with you.

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