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From left: (Credit: Chris Ware)

From left: "King Jack and The Dragon," by Peter Bently & Helen Oxenbury (Dial), "Balloons Over Broadway," by Melissa Sweet (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), "Sea of Dreams," by Dennis Nolan (Roaring Brook Press) and "Grandpa Green," by Lane Smith (Roaring Brook Press).

Gift books for kids

Books make great gifts, for kids and adults alike. Here, a round-up of gift-worthy books for early readers and young adults.
-Sonja Bolle

(Credit: Chris Ware)

"Santa Claus The World's Number One Toy Expert," Maria Frazee
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $4.99)
BEST FOR all ages

Deliver greetings via "Send-a-Story" -- miniaturized versions of popular children's books in the form of multipage greeting cards -- and you'll never again go empty-handed to a holiday party. The "Send-a-Story" line includes Marla Frazee's delightful "Santa Claus: The World's Number One Toy Expert" and Naomi Howland's Hanukkah story, "Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat."

(Credit: Chris Ware)

"Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat," Naomi Howland
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $4.99)
BEST FOR all ages

Deliver greetings via "Send-a-Story" -- miniaturized versions of popular children's books in the form of multipage greeting cards -- and you'll never again go empty-handed to a holiday party. The "Send-a-Story" line includes Marla Frazee's delightful "Santa Claus: The World's Number One Toy Expert" and Naomi Howland's Hanukkah story, "Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat."

(Credit: Chris Ware)

"Grandpa Green," Lane Smith
(Roaring Brook Press New York; $16.99)
BEST FOR Ages 5 to 9

Any bookseller will report that they see lots of older folks at this season, looking for presents for the grandkids. The child-narrator of "Grandpa Green" by Lane Smith knows his great-grandfather's history as the story illustrated in the topiary shapes the old man cuts in his fantastic garden. Grandpa Green may not remember as well as he once did, but his artistic shears have remembered for him, and have left a playground for the children to discover.

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(Credit: Chris Ware, 2011)

"All These Things I've Done"

Gabrielle Zevin's "All These Things I've Done" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ages 12 and up) may be set in a near future when chocolate and coffee are controlled substances, but the imagined world is only backdrop to a cast of compelling characters, headed up by the daughter of a slain mob boss. "All These Things" is billed as first in the "Birthright" series, but is satisfying by itself.
Read a review of All These Things I've Done

(Credit: Chris Ware)

"Matched," Ally Condie
(Dutton; $17.99 )
BEST FOR Ages 12 and up

Another fantastic fictional grandparent acts as catalyst in Ally Condie's engrossing trilogy in progress. In "Matched" and "Crossed," society has carefully erased all traces of history, ostensibly to promote safety and stability, but in reality to separate people from any causes worth fighting for. An underground devoted to preserving human wisdom puts these books in the tradition of Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451."

(Credit: Chris Ware, 2011)

"Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans"

Kadir Nelson channels the voice of a wise grandmother in "Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans" (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, ages 9 and up), telling what needs to be told with love and fierceness. His paintings, as always, astonish.
Read a review of Heart and Soul

Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea,
(Credit: Chris Ware)

Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea," Tony Johnston, Stacy Innerst (Illustrator)
(Houghton Miffline Harcourt; $16.99)
BEST FOR Ages 5 to 9

Still on the topic of history, though not concerning grandparents -- unless the grandparents in question happened to profit from the California gold rush or the schmata trade (Yiddish for "the clothing business) -- is "Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea" by Tony Johnston, the true story of how a failed gold seeker made his fortune by noticing that frontier clothing wasn't tough enough to stand up to mining work. The resulting pants are still popular a century and a half later.

(Credit: Handout)

"My Rhinoceros," Jon Agee
(Scholastic; $16.95)
BEST FOR Ages 3 to 8

For younger readers, it's always thrilling to consider the rich life of the imagination: When Jon Agee's narrator buys a pet in "My Rhinoceros," he is so disappointed, he consults a rhinoceros expert, who informs him that rhinos only do two things: "Pop balloons and poke holes in kites." Who knew that these talents could be put to such splendid use?

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(Credit: Chris Ware)

"King Jack and the Dragon," Peter Bently, Helen Oxenbury (Illustrator)
(Dial; $17.99)
BEST FOR Ages 3 to 5

"King Jack and the Dragon" by Peter Bently and illustrator Helen Oxenbury makes an epic adventure out of staple childhood construction projects -- building a fort.

(Credit: Chris Ware)

"Sea of Dreams," Dennis Nolan
(Roaring Brook Press; $16.99)
BEST FOR Ages 3 to 7

Dennis Nolan's wordless picture book, "Sea of Dreams" makes an epic adventure out of staple childhood construction projects -- fashioning a sand castle.

(Credit: Handout)

"Jingle Bells: how the Holiday Classic Came to Be," John Harris, Adam Gustavson (Illustrator)
(Peachtree Publishers; $16.95)
BEST FOR Ages 6 to 10

A mid-19th century heat wave and the heated atmosphere of abolitionist politics inspire a Southern church organist to write a song about pure, innocent, snowy holiday cheer in "Jingle Bells: How the Holiday Classic Came to Be" by John Harris.

(Credit: Handout)

"Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade," Melissa Sweet
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $16.99)
BEST FOR Ages 4 to 8

Several charming books tell tales of the holiday season: "Balloons Over Broadway" by Melissa Sweet recounts how an inspired puppeteer dreamed up the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

(Credit: Chris Ware)

"The Third Gift," Linda Sue Park, Bagram Ibatoulline (Illustrator)
(Clarion Books; $16.99)
BEST FOR Ages 6 to 9

In "The Third Gift," Newbery-winning author Linda Sue Park ("A Single Shard") teams with magical illustrator Bagram Ibatoulline ("The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane") to tell a story that answers a question generations of children have asked about those visitors who followed the star to the manger in Bethlehem: What the heck is myrrh, anyway?

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