About Me

My name is Genevieve Woods and in addition to being the mother of an adorable preschooler named Oscar and his adorable toddler brother Henry, I am the Children's Buyer at Spellbinder Books, a small independent bookstore in Bishop, California. I am often asked by customers for recommendations...and thus the idea for this blog was sparked.

Many sites recommending books for kids are created by librarians and non-profits. While these are great sites, they often recommend out-of-print books. This site is all about the great books that are available now! While I am not being paid for these recommendations, I would appreciate it if readers would purchase the books I recommend from local independent bookstores, or even B&N. Basically don't buy from the evil empire (A_A_O_), because if you do much of our literary knowledge will be lost.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Best Gifts of 2011!

My Favorite Gifts of 2011!

by MoMA
Ages 1-5
These stacking blocks are different in that they balance at an angle, creating a fantastical topsy-turvy tower that toddlers will love to create (and destroy). What sets this set of stacking and balancing blocks apart are their bright colors, and their smaller shape, making them easier to stack and store.

by Sam McBratney
illustrated by Anita Jeram
paper engineering by Corina Fletcher
Ages 3-99
A classic story is now available in a pop-up edition!

by Lego & DK publishers
Ages 6-99
The Lego Brickmaster series gives you a set of Legos combined with full-color book that shows you all their different combinations. Combine this with ninjas, and you get a toy that is sure to please!

by shains
Ages 6-99
Shains are bracelets made of rubbery plastic that you can modify with your own
letters, symbols, & words! So much fun! They are a great gift for
boys and girls!
by Chronicle Books
Ages 13-99
A wonderful set for beginning artists and those on the go. The materials provided include high quality paints and paper, thus this is not a set for the younger child.

Best Board Books of 2011!

My Favorite Board Books of 2011!

by Eric Metaxas
illustrated by Nancy Tillman
Ages 0-3
Richly illustrated dreamscapes combined with lyrical text make this an entrancing story for little eyes to behold! 

by Susan Marie Swanson
illustrated by Beth Krommes
Ages 0-3
Finally the Caldecott winner of 2008 is printed in a board book format! The black and white illustrations with spots of gold are high in contrast and grab even the youngest reader's attention. These fantastic illustrations combined with a magical poem that seems tailor-made for bibliophiles make this book a winner for children and adults alike!
by Emily Gravett
Ages 0-6
A concept book for a wide age range! Youngest readers will enjoy the whimsical illustrations while older pre-schoolers will enjoy bears that turn orange, apple, and pear! Oh the difference a comma can make!
by Tiger Tales
Ages 2-5
So simple and yet so brilliant , A is for Apple takes the basic alphabet book, combines it with lift-the-flaps, and tracing tracks to create a book that really makes those letters stick! Tracing the letters with little fingers is really going help certain youngsters understand letter shapes. And hiding under the flaps are additional words that start with the letter, re-enforcing the sound of the letter and the concept of words. A is for Apple is a great tool for teaching the alphabet!
by Rufus Butler Sedler
Ages 1-6
Watch scenes from the Wizard of Oz come to life! The youngest readers will enjoy the scanimation though this book will really appeal to toddlers and pre-schoolers familiar with the movie. Toddlers will enjoy the basic story retelling on the bottom of the page while pre-schoolers and adults will undoubtedly enjoy all the classic quotes scattered throughout.

Best Picture Books of 2011!

My Favorite Picture Books of 2011!
by Eric Rohmann
Ages 4-8
Eric Rohmann's illustrations are fantastic, but it is the heartwarming story of the love between a boy and his dog, a love which lasts beyond grave, that makes this my favorite picture book of 2011! This can be used as a Halloween tale, or a tale for those dealing with the loss of a pet, but in truth it is just a great story. I should make it clear that I'm not a dog person, since having my own child I am actually scared of most dogs. Still I have nothing but respect for the bond that children and their pets share.

by William Joyce
Ages 4-8
Fantastical illustrations accompany this lovely steam-punk tale of how the moon, the man in the moon, and the Guardians of Childhood (Santa, Mother Goose, etc) came to be.

by Michael B. Kaplan
illustrated by Stephane Jorish
Ages 2-6
Betty Bunny is a handful, a handful who loves chocolate cake, and has to learn how to be patient so that she can eat her chocolate cake. Betty Bunny's family, particularly her siblings play a big role in her story, and the illustrations make the Bunny family look like fashion models, in a good way. Betty Bunny is one of Oscar's favorites, thus this is not the first time I've mentioned the book. To read my first review about Betty Bunny click here.

by Jan Brett
Ages 2-8
This is perhaps the best Jan Brett book to come out since The Mitten in 1989. The story is of a wayward troll looking to find a home with all the animals except his own. In all honesty, Christmas comes up at the end, but it didn't have to be a Christmas book - alas I'm not Jan Brett's editor, I don't get a say. However, if you are going to have a Christmas story this is certainly one of the best out there. It is about family, it is about love, its got all the things the holiday should be about.

by Barbara Bottner
illustrated by Michael Emberley
 Ages 2-6
An alphabetical romp through mischievous pre-schoolers! I'm always on the lookout for books with fun ways to bring the alphabet into an actual story and this book certainly fits the bill!

Best Books for Youth from 2011!

My Favorite Books for Youth from 2011!
(Youth = ages 8-12)
by Shel Silverstein
This new compilation of Silverstein poems is just as funny and touching as Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic! Although I have this categorized as Youth, this book is wonderful for all between the ages of 4 & 99!

by Doreen Cronin
You can read all about my love for this title on my earlier blog post by clicking here, but to recap - The Trouble with Chickens is a crime noir for kids! J.J. Tully is a retired search-and-rescue dog looking forward to a life of relaxation in the yard, so of course he gets roped into finding a chicken's missing chick. There's villains, adventure, daring escapes, and lots and lots of laughs. This is the BEST crime book for grades 3-7 EVER WRITTEN! 
by Laura Amy Schlitz
I first wrote about this book in May of 2010, when it came out in hardcover. Well now in 2011 the paperback is available! This tale of an injured fairy is the best of the many fairy stories I've read. It isn't sweet, it isn't sappy, but it is touching, endearing, and very very memorable. Author Laura Amy Schlitz is a Newbery winner, and they don't give that award to just anybody.

by Astrid Lindgren
illustrated by Lauren Child
Question: What's better than Astric Lindgren's world-famous story of an unusual girl of unusual strength named Pippi Longstocking?
Answer: Her tale of an unusual girl of unusual strength illustrated by the accomplished artist & author Lauren Child. Pippi Longstocking is even more fun when bright and colorful illustrations greet you on every other page.

by Orson Scott Card
The famous author of Ender's Game has written a smashing fantasy/adventure novel for youth 10-14! A medieval world with space-age secrets is the backdrop for a young runaway king just learning to handle his magical powers. Originally published in Hardcover in 2010 this fantastic fantasy is now available in paperback.

Best Young Adult Books of 2011!

My favorite Young Adult Books of 2011!

by Amy Kathleen Ryan
A suspenseful action/adventure novel set in the claustrophobic confines of two dueling spaceships in outer space. Black and white meld into ever confusing shades of gray as two groups of teens try to survive the consequences of their elders' past decisions and current desires. This book provides a lot of food for thought on the nature of power, gender, and religion, but it doesn't give you any answers. Be warned this is only the START of a trilogy, so you will be left hanging.

by Lauren Myracle
A young teen decides to face the dark underbelly of her small Southern town head on as she tries to solve the mystery of who beat her openly gay friend to the point of near death. I particularly loved how her need to help a friend ended up helping her overcome her own rape of two years prior. This book has a lot to say about sexuality, friendship, family, and drugs, but despite the heavy subject matter it is an engaging and adventurous read with unexpected turns and twists!

by John Corey Whaley
This is a first novel from an author I'm sure we'll be hearing more from. Don't be fooled by the cover, this book has mature content and is definitely for teens! Sometimes publishers make artistic mistakes, fortunately the same cannot be said of the author. The book tells the story of a teen's struggles to make sense out of a summer of romantic pitfalls and a missing brother, while the town he lives in becomes a sort of avian Disneyland due to the supposed sighting of an extinct woodpecker. Trying to remain sane in a crazy world is a feeling most readers will identify with.