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Holiday delights, classics-to-be among books for young readers

There were some marvelous keepers among the floodtide of books for young readers from publishers this year.


Nutcracker Mice by Kristin Kladstrup, illustrated by Brett Helquist; Candlewick Press ($17.99) Ages 8 to 12.

This delicious holiday confection, is set in 1892 St. Petersburg, Russia, where a mouse ballet company living under the floorboards of the Mariinsky Theater prepares an alternative version of Tchaikovsky's new "The Nutcracker" ballet, in which the mice are the heroes.

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  ($16.99) Ages 7 to 10.

The Vanderbeekers are dreading the prospect of moving out of their beloved brownstone in Harlem just before Christmas unless the five children can charm their Scrooge-like recluse of a landlord into letting them stay in this marvelous addition to the classic library of book families in the tradition of Jeanne Birdsall's  "Penderwicks" series.


The Wolf, the Duck & The Mouse by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen; Candlewick Press, $17.99.

Gifted collaborators Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, a native of Niagara Falls, Ont., work their wacky magic in this madcap twist on a fairy tale in which a duck and a mouse are swallowed by a wolf and take up residence in his tummy.

Robinson by Peter Sis; Scholastic Press ($17.99) Ages 4 to 8.

The acclaimed author-illustrator Peter Sis creates a wondrous work of the imagination, of a boy drifting off into his own Robinson Crusoe adventure in this lovely book based on an incident from his own childhood.

Vincent Can't Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary Grandpre; Alfred A. Knopf, $17.99.

This gorgeous book, illustrated in the style of Van Gogh himself, offers an unusually lovely  picture biography of the artist, using the words "Vincent can't sleep" to launch each new beautifully written snippet about his life. (The two previously collaborated on Kandinsky bio "The Noisy Paint Box.")


Diary of a Wimpy Kid No. 12: The Getaway by Jeff Kinney; Abrams, 217 pages ($13.95) Ages 8 to 12.

The cartoon illustrations and over-the-top antics will continue to entertain tween fans of the "Wimpy Kid."  This 12th "Wimpy Kid" outing, Greg Heffley discovers the discomforts of air travel and the mixed blessing of the resort experience when his parents decide to take a family vacation at Christmas to the tropical resort where they spent their honeymoon.


Brave Red, Smart Frog: A New Book of Tales by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Rohan Daniel Eason; Candlewick Press, $17.99.

Gifted author Emily Jenkins rewrites seven familiar fairy tales, offering a lovely, fresh, insightful and often humorous take on "Snow White," "Red Riding Hood" and a personal favorite, "Toads and Pearls."

I'm Just No Good at Rhyming And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-ups by Chris Harris, illustrated by Lane Smith; Little, Brown, 221 pages ($19.99) Ages 6 and up

TV writer Chris Harris teams up with the great Lane Smith in this hilarious, diverse treasury of original poems following in the tradition of the late great Shel Silverstein.


Dinosaur Empire! (Earth Before Us No. 1) by Abby Howard; Amulet Books, $15.99.

Kids who like dinosaurs will go for this funny and fact-filled graphic novel, a terrific science lesson framed as a time-travel adventure to the Mesozoic era by a wacky paleontologist and a clueless fifth grader.

Wild: Endangered Animals in Living Motion, a Photicular Book created by Dan Kainen, written by Kathy Wollard; Workman Publishing, ($15.95)

Kids come face to face with endangered animals in the lovely  book with its sobering message, using Photicular technology to depict A Giant Panda nibbling bamboo, a leopard licking its paw, an elephant cooling off with a spray of water.

 Exploring Space: From Galileo to the Mars Rover and Beyond by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Stephen Biesty; Candlewick Press, 60 pages ($17.99).

Biesty's spectacular  cutaway illustrations of the International Space Station, the European Southern Observatory's Paranal facility on a mountaintop in the Andes and what a Mars settlement might look like are a highlight of this  fascinating oversize book about human space exploration.

Wicked Bugs: The Meanest, Deadliest, Grossest Bugs on Earth by Amy Stewart; Algonquin Young Readers, 192 pages ($19.95) Ages 8 to 12.

This young readers' edition of Amy Stewart's New York Times best-seller is a hugely entertaining and informative – if often gross - exploration of the science, history, habits and impact of mosquitoes, flies and the more exotic Bombardier Beetle, Asian Giant Hornet and  Formosan Subterranean Termite.




Far From the Tree by Robin Benway; HarperCollins, 375 pages ($17.99) Ages 13 and up.

Robin Benway won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for this compelling novel of three siblings, given up for adoption, who find each other again.

In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody; Farrar Straus Giroux, 449 pages ($17.99) Ages 12 and up.

A high school senior takes a blow to the head and wakes up in an alternative reality, getting the chance to see what life would have been like had she opted to attend an elite private academy

in this hugely entertaining coming-of-age tale.

No Good Deed by Kara Connolly; Delacorte Press, 352 pages ($17.99) Ages 14 and up.

An Olympic archer finds herself back in medieval England in this clever girl-power take on the Robin Hood legend.


Refugee by Alan Gratz; Scholastic Press, 352 pages ($16.99) Ages 9 to 12.

In heart-pounding detail, Alan Gratz describes the heartrending journeys of three children forced to flee their homes - Josef in 1939 Berlin, Isabel in 1994 Cuba and Mahmoud in 2015 Syria.

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins; Farrar Straus Giroux, 303 pages, ($17.99) Ages 12 and up.

The author uses alternating voices of two sisters and their daughters to tell this fascinating story of the immigrant experience, of a journey from India to Ghana to Britain to the United States that mirrors the author's own experience.








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