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!

Ten Reasons Why Books Make the Best Gifts (well, after puppies and private islands)

1)      Because other than those sparkly pencils and key chains with peoples’ names on them, books are one of the best gifts that you can find a uniquely suited one for every person on your list

2)      Because you don’t need to poke holes in the box so the book can breathe

3)      Because they are easier to wrap than a football or bicycle

4)      Because you can do all of your shopping in one spot

5)      Because you don’t have to feed them, plug them in, or put batteries in them

6)      Because “They have whole worlds inside them, and it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world.” –Neil Gaiman

7)      Because you can even find one for the person who has everything

8)      Because they never come in the wrong colour, size or style

9)      Because they don’t need to be assembled

10)   Because it shows the recipient that you took the time to think about who they are and what they are interested in

So what’s the trick? Picking the right book. Luckily for you, I have some suggestions for everyone on your holiday gift list.

For the Hockey Lover

Double Overtime

Double Overtime by Stephen Cole

Full of fun facts, crazy yet true stories, and chalk full pictures, this book is for every hockey fan of every team (even if you the gift-buyer don’t know anything about hockey!)

For the (New) Baker

 Baking with the Cake Boss

Baking with the Cake Boss by Buddy Valastro

Buddy, from TLC’s smash hit Cake Boss, is back with another book. For the novice baker, this book starts with the basics of baking – the simple yet noble sugar cookie – and advances to fantastically intricate themed cakes for home-baking pros.  This is one gift that both the recipient and the giver are bound to benefit from!

For the Extraordinary Women in Your Life

 The Dovekeepers

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

Strong, brave, resourceful, sensuous, caring, and giving – these are just some of the used words to describe the women of The Dovekeepers. A masterpiece that was five years in the making, the author of Practical Magic tells the beautiful and harrowing tale of four Jewish women in 70 C.E. Masada, Israel.

For Lovers of  iAnything

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs – the man who changed the world, whether we like it or not. Walter Isaacson’s biography, the only authorized biography of the Apple co-founder and innovator, tells the story of this intense personality whose drive for perfection can be seen in every one of his products and serves as a rollercoaster tale of ambition, obsessions, compulsion, creativity and innovation.

For Your Daughter, Niece or Little Sister

Dork Diaries Box Set

Dork Diaries Box Set by Rachel Renee Russell

This super popular series chronicles the oh-so-fabulous life of Nikki Maxwell as she navigates the halls of middle school, mean girls, BFF drama and first crushes. These spunky, funny, and relatable books are perfect for tween girl readers (and best of all, they are PG-rated so you don’t have to worry about your 11-year old niece reading vampire/immortal love scenes!).

For Almost Anyone (really, who doesn’t read Stephen King?)

11/22/63

11/22/63 by Stephen King

The incredible Stephen King is back in a brand new way. In 11/22/63, King tells the ultimate “What If?” story. What if you could go back in time and change history? King’s suspenseful and riveting tale of time travel to one of America’s most epic periods in history will have readers on the edge of their seats until the last page is turned.

The New YA Must-Have

 Clockwork Prince

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

With so many YA vampire/werewolf/warlock/immortal, etc, etc, etc books out there, it’s hard for the discerning gift-giver to know which one to choose for the teen on their list. Well look no further – Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series left young women begging for another adventure to go on, bad-boy to drool over, and smart, brave girl to read about, and with the second of the Infernal Devices series, Clare delivers.

For the 20-something Student

5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides)

 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides) by Matthew Inman

Perfect for the quirky-humored, google-searching  20-something, 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides) offers up 4 Reasons to Carry a Shovel at All Times, 6 Types of Crappy Hugs, 8 Ways to Tell if Your Loved One Plans to Eat You, 17 Things Worth Knowing About Your Cat, and 20 Things Worth Knowing About Beer.

Literary Non-Fiction

Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean

If you can’t get someone a puppy for Christmas, get this book instead. Rin Tin Tin has been getting rave reviews and for good reason. Whether you love dogs, old Hollywood, the entrepreneurs behind entertainment, biographies, history, or just a wonderfully written story, Rin Tin Tin delivers.

For the Book Club Lover

The Lady of the Rivers

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

Witchcraft, royalty, betrayal and passion, The Lady of the Rivers delivers it all. This book, to be enjoyed in front of a fireplace and with a cup of tea, is sure to keep your favorite aunt, sister or friend company this holiday season.

Brain Food

Grand Pursuit

Grand Pursuit by Sylvia Nasar

In this epic yet readable narrative modern economics, Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind, tells the of how activist thinkers like Marx, Sydney Fisher, Irving Fisher, and Milton Friedman transformed not just the Western world, but the entire planet.

The New Children’s Classic

The Man in the Moon

 The Man in the Moon by William Joyce

“Meet the very first guardian of childhood, MiM, the Man in the Moon.” A beautiful and tender story of love, adventure, and enchantment, The Man in the Moon, will capture hearts both young and old.

Wreck the Halls

When I was given the task of writing on the S&S blog (I’ve never blogged before, apparently I live under a rock), I was a little worried about what I would write about as the new marketing intern. That is, until I got my “assignment” – Wreck the Halls: Cake Wrecks Gets Festive. So, in the name of research, I spent the afternoon flipping through the book, almost peeing my pants laughing in the process.

What is a Cake Wreck, you ask? According to the hilarious Jen Yates and her equally inappropriately funny husband, John, “a Cake Wreck is any professionally made cake that is unintentionally sad, silly, creepy, [or] inappropriate….”

In her first book, Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong, (which just so happened to become a New York Times Bestseller), we saw creepy baby cakes, cakes with questionable spelling, anti-sexual harassment cakes, and, my favorite, divorce cakes (nothing says it better than a cake with “I Didn’t Like You That Much Anyway” written on it…except maybe the “Go Die in a Car Fire” cake).

Cake Wrecks

And now, Yates is back with a second helping of Cake Wrecks. With Santa being eaten by an alligator and vampire pilgrim cakes, who needs a Hallmark card?

Watch the trailer

Both Cake Wrecks and Wreck the Halls are actually books, with over two hundred pages of cake wreck photos accompanied by Yates’ special blend of wit and sarcasm. And somehow, they don’t stop being funny, but actually become even funnier because, as you flip through it with friends, you know what is coming. Wreck the Halls is the perfect Christmas gift and offers sweet relief from holiday shopping madness, whether you give it as a gift or, if you are like me, you keep it for yourself.

To win a copy of Wreck the Halls, share your own cake wreck photo and submit it to the Simon & Schuster Facebook page where you can also check out the recent Simon & Schuster Cake Wrecks event with Jen Yates at Indigo in Yorkdale.

For more Cake Wrecks, check out CakeWrecks.com. Be sure to follow @CakeWrecks on Twitter and like Cake Wrecks on Facebook!