The Perfect Gift for You and Your Kids

We at Simon & Schuster Canada really and truly believe that there’s no better gift than the love of reading. That’s why when we stumbled across this great gift idea on Pinterest, we had to tell everyone we could about it! The idea is to wrap up 25 children’s picture books and put them under your Christmas tree at the start of December. Before bedtime each evening, your little one gets to choose one book to unwrap, which you then read together! This continues every night up to and including the big day itself. What a cozy and heartwarmingly brilliant gift idea.

Make this a new holiday tradition! To help you start, we’ve listed 25 of our favourite children’s books down below (in no particular order). Feel free to make your own suggestions in the comments section below.

Holiday Classics:

  • The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore. This is a wonderful new version of the classic poem every family should own. Lavishly illustrated by renowned artist Charles Santore, the critically acclaimed illustrator of The Wizard of Oz, Snow White, and The Little Mermaid, this beautiful book is a treasure.

  • One Starry Night is a simple yet profound book that perfectly captures the universal nighttime vigil of parents everywhere. Author Lauren Thompson is at her lyrical best, while Jonathan Bean’s gorgeous, artisanal illustrations are the perfect match for this beautifully serene story of a truly Peaceable Kingdom.
  • The Hanukkah Hop by Erica Silverman, with illustrations by Steven D’Amico, is a lively and rollicking book that is sure to insprire every member of the family in celebrating the Festival of Lights!
  • Olivia Helps with Christmas (Ian Falconer) shows that everyone’s favourite 6-year-old pig is the #1 Kris Kringle fan, and of course she’s excited to OPEN HER PRESENTS!
  • Christmas Parade is a delightful Christmas picture book filled with hilarious characters and dynamic art from the one and only Sandra Boynton! Written with the irresistible rhythm of a lively marching band and illustrated by the author with those signature Boynton characters, Christmas Parade is a superb present for young children and families everywhere. Biddy BOOM!

  • Bear Stays Up for Christmas is an enchanting holiday story for young readers that kids will ask for again and again. Written by Karma Wilson and illustrations by Jane Chapman.
  • Santa from Cincinnati by Judi Barrett (author of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), with illustrations by Kevin Hawkes. Compiled from his baby book, family photos, and report cards, Santa from Cincinnati provides a full-spectrum view of the boy who grew to be the man who grew to be Santa.
  • Mortimer’s Christmas Manger is a sweet holiday story that’s cherished by families everywhere, again from the bestselling author and illustrator team of Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman.

WINTER WONDERS:

  • The award-winning Red Sled by Lita Judge is an almost wordless picture book in which a host of woodland creatures take a child’s sled for a nighttime joy ride. Gorgeously depicted in bold watercolor, their whimsical ride will become a wintertime favorite.

  • No Two Alikewritten and illustrated by Keith Baker, follows a pair of birds on a snowflake-filled journey though a gorgeous winter landscape to explore how everything, everywhere is wonderfully unique.
  • In Making a Friend, bestselling author Alison McGhee reminds us all that “What you love will always be with you.” This tender story about the power of friendship will stay with readers long after they turn the last page.

AMAZING ANIMAL ADVENTURES:

  • Olivia by Ian Falconer, the award-winning book that started it all! You and your little ones are sure to fall in love with Olivia’s adorably endearing precociousness.
  • Olivia and the Fairy Princesses (Ian Falconer) follows our beloved Olivia on a hilarious quest for individuality, and rest assured, you won’t find THIS pig pleased to be in pink!

  • Don’t Be Afraid, Little Pip – from bestselling author and illustrator team of Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman comes a reassuring tale about the lovable Little Pip that will leave readers cheering… and perhaps a little less scared to try something new.
  • Bear Says Thanks shows us that there’s no better way for Bear to say thanks than by having a big dinner with all of his friends! Written by Karma Wilson and illustrations by Jane Chapman.
  • Nightsong is a beautiful coming-of-age story about a young bat setting off into the world using only his good sense! With mesmerizing artwork from NYT bestselling illustrator Loren Long and lyrical text from Ari Berk, share the lovely message that no matter how far away you go, you can always find your way home.

  • Mousetronaut is the story of a small mouse who wants to travel in outerspace! Written by bestselling author and retired NASA astronaut Commander Mark Kelly and with lively illustrations by award-winning artist C. F. Payne, this little mouse may inspire some big dreams!
  • Creepy Carrots, by Aaron Reynolds with illustrations by Peter Brown. The Twilight Zone comes to the carrot patch in this clever picture book parable about a rabbit who fears his favorite treats are out to get him.
  • In Boot & Shoe, Caldecott Honor medalist Marla Frazee brings her signature wit, tenderness, and hilarious illustrations to this endearing tale about an irresistible puppy pair.

GET READY FOR GIGGLES:

  • I Loathe You, written and illustrated by David Slonim, shows that unconditional loathing is monsterly love in this sweetly humorous picture book.
  • I’m Bored–we all know that there’s NOTHING boring about being a kid, but one little girl is going to have to prove it in this anything-but-boring picture book from comedian Michael Ian Black, accompanied by charismatic illustrations from newcomer Debbie Ridpath Ohi. (Also named as a New York Times Notable Children’s Book of 2012!)

Do you remember the book that you fell in love with as a child? The book with illustrations that left you wide-eyed, and words that your parents learned by heart from countless re-readings? We promise that a similar, if not more magical, experience awaits you in the books by William Joyce:

  • The Sandman is the second book in Joyce’s joyfully imaginative Guardians of Childhood series, and tells us how the sleepy Sandman dreamed up his sweet-dream legacy. Everything about this book is GORGEOUS.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good read!

Indie Bookstore Spotlight: Woozles Bookstore

The independent bookstore is a cultural and community hub – authors are introduced, works read aloud to an audience and ideas are shared.

Each month, we will be featuring an independent bookstore from across Canada, proving what a special role these shops play in fostering authors, community and a love of reading. For November, we are featuring Woozles bookstore in Halifax, Nova Scotia. You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook!

Tell us a little bit about the history of Woozle.

In the spring of 1978, three people agreed they couldn’t find the children’s books they wanted in Halifax – Liz & Brian Crocker and Ann Connor Brimer – and so the idea of a children’s bookstore was conceived.  And then they noticed that an old house on Birmingham Street was for sale.  It seemed the fates were aligned, the building was bought (along with a manual on bookselling and how to do accounting for small businesses), renovations were made books were ordered, a fabulous manager was hired, and Woozles opened its doors on Saturday, October 14, 1978.  Opening day was overcast but people came by the hundreds (600 the first day) and Woozles has never looked back!

There have been so many milestones along the way…ranging from Woozles graduating from writing sales on pieces of paper to getting a cash register in 1986 and then a computer in the late 90’s…to the untimely death of Ann Connor Brimer in 1988…the two expansions of the building so that Woozles has now grown from its initial 600 sq. ft. to approximately 1500 sq. ft….the numerous authors and children’s performers who have crossed our threshold to delight young people (and adults too!)…to the retirement, after 30 years, of our first Manager, Trudy Carey, in 2009…to our newsletter which was first issued in October, 1978 and still is published 3 times a year, on-line and on paper!  (I could go on and on here but hopefully that’s a bit of a flavour)

What made you want to open a bookstore?

This is somewhat answered above…it really was because three of us couldn’t find the books we wanted for children in Halifax – there were other bookstores but no one had a very extensive children’s section…and children’s books were our passion.  We also strongly believed in the idea of a community resource for children and the line underneath “Woozles” is “A Place For and About Children”….our community bulletin board, our workshops, our support of various children’s organizations, our Battle of the Books program and our writing competition (which both support the love of writing and reading) give testimony to the fact that we believe we are more than a store…

What does the book-buying public understand least about independent bookstores?

Most people are familiar with a traditional retail model that marks everything up a certain amount to make profit and are not necessarily aware that things work differently with books.  The fact that the publisher sets the price of each book and then gives bookstores a discount on that price makes things different in the sense that it limits the percentage which a bookstore is able to mark down a book without then actually losing money on the sale.  This makes it look like we are deliberately refusing to discount our books the way that grocery stores or big box stores do but doesn’t allow customers to see the full story.

What is the hardest part about being a bookstore owner in 2012?

In one way, it’s not hard because we continue to love what we do and see the positive responses, every day, from children and parents when good books are discovered and shared.  The media would like us all to believe that independent booksellers are on their way to being things of the past and, in this climate, we believe it is important to pay attention to actual trends rather than broad-stroke gloomy predictions.  We believe the trends are saying that more people are reading than ever before – in paper format and on-line – even though there is tremendous competition for children’s time and attention.  It would be great if authors, booksellers and publishers could come together and think creatively to ensure that good books continue to be written and published and sold by people who know them and love them.

What types of books does your store stock and/or specialize in?

As a specialty bookseller, we focus on books ‘for and about children’.  We pride ourselves in having fabulous books for readers aged 0-18.

What are some of your favorite titles? Titles coming out this year?

Phewf.  How long have you got?  We are enormous fans of Oliver Jeffers, of Sandra Boynton, of Kenneth Oppel, of Sarah Dessen…the list goes on and on and on.

What are you reading right now?

Suzy is reading The Casual Vacancy for her adult bookclub (but she did just finish Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot!), and Lisa is reading Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes and the Friday Society by Adrienne Kress.

What is your most current best seller? Classic?

Where is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox, Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown are consistently at the top of our bestseller lists.

Right now, due to the recent release of Shauntay Grant’s new book, Apple and Butterflies, that is the #1 seller.

What have been some of your favorite (or most memorable) author events?

Barbara Cooney, Tamora Pierce, Robert Munsch.

Any strange, wild or crazy-but-true stories?

There was a period of time when we found handwritten notes on pieces of paper left in several books over several months.  We dubbed the author of these notes the ‘caper of Woozles’.  Incidentally, all of the notes were loosely about the end of the world.

We get a bit of a kick out of kids who come into the store and promptly take their coat and shoes off…because Woozles is situated in what was once a house (and still feels like a cozy house)

We were approached recently by a local ghosthunter who wanted to stay overnight and do an infrared recording of the potential bookstore ghost…but for security reasons one of the staff or owners would have had to sleep overnight in the store with the team, so it didn’t end up happening.

We once got a call from a gentleman who asked to see our books about taxidermy for an 8 year old.  Not, do you have any, but where are the multitude of?  We’ve also been asked about the location of our ‘Octopus section’.

What book are you, or will you, hand-sell with a vengeance?

What’s neat about this store, and about independent bookstores in general, is that our staff are knowledgeable, generous and helpful.  And tastes vary all over the map.  So depending on the day, you could encounter Mollie, who will no doubt sell you In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak or Suzy who will insist you take home Visitor for Bear.  But if you meet Lisa, you’ll likely walk out with an armload of YA fiction, whereas Nadine might show you her favourite illustrated classic.  We are passionate about what we do, and it is not formulaic in any way.

Is there anything else you would like to tell our blog readers?

We are deeply honoured to have the opportunity to do what we do every single day.  Thanks for making the independent bookstore experience so special.

Signed,
Lisa, Suzy and Liz