This is the time of the year I begin thinking about presents for my niece and nephews. The choice of books over other items is the easy part. Which books is the challenge. I want them to love what I send them. I want them to think I’m the cool aunt who sends great stories. They have other cool aunts. The stakes are high. After an afternoon of browsing books, this is what is shipping to them this week, hopefully in time for Christmas!
Nephew #1: fourteen-year-old boy who devours anything that his mother doesn’t like him to read, or other things if he thinks you are not watching. I’ve already done the Diary of the Wimpy Kid books for him and others along those lines. I think he also prefers a shorter book over a longer book. So this year he’s receiving The Player King by Avi, about a servant boy who discovers he is a king. It has gotten rave reviews for the storytelling and is on the shorter side.
Nephew #2 is an almost thirteen-year-old who loves listening to stories and is adept at drawing and designing. I bought him Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic (#1 in the series) by Armand Baltazar. The cover here is a great draw, with a cool looking boy skateboarding through the sky in an alternate fantastical / science fiction future where all historic eras exist simultaneously. Inside there are over 150 full color illustrations. And then there’s the story; on his thirteenth birthday, the main character, Diego, discovers that he is part of a big secret. At the disappearance of his father, Diego embarks on a hero’s quest to save him and the world.
Niece #1: ten-year-old girl who likes edgy stuff. She’s enjoyed the ghostly Serafina series I’ve sent for birthdays. I considered Snow and Rose by Emily Winfield Martin for it’s dark fairytale like qualities, since she is enjoying the Sisters Grimm. However, unlike her brother, I wasn’t sure she would go for illustrations throughout this chapter book. So I went for The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1), a fantastical story of a girl who is doomed to die on her 11th birthday. Enter Jupiter North, a strange character who takes her to the safety of Nevermoor, where she can avoid the 11th birthday curse if she successfully completes four magical challenges. I’m excited to know how she likes this.
Nephew #3: eight-year-old boy, who loves playing soccer and making people laugh. I ran across the Magical Misfits. I was suspicious that a star wrote this book – Neil Patrick Harris. I opened the book and started reading, expecting to dislike it. Instead, I was hooked on the narrator’s voice from the first page: into my cart it went.
I also like to send a family gift. They’ve enjoyed Harry Potter, so this year I am sending Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard audiobook for their many soccer-related car trips. I think they will love the dark creepiness of this story and the fabulous storytelling. Even if the kids tune out, my brother was so excited about a new audiobook I think I’ve already found a fan.
And that concludes my holiday book shopping for this year for niece and nephews. Hopefully I’ll achieve “cool aunt” status. If not, I’ve had a good time trying!
Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season! -Elaine B.