Late shoppers: don’t despair! If you haven’t yet purchased a book or two for a child for this holiday gift-giving season, take a look below at some spectacular choices that will be certain hits for the kid on your list.

Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

“Christmas Day in the Morning” by Pearl S. Buck, illustrated by Mark Buehner, HarperCollins, 40 pages

Read aloud: age 4 – 5 and older.

Read yourself: age 7 – 8 and older.

Originally published in 1955, this classic story has been reissued for the first time as a picture book, and what a glorious offering it is.

Fifteen-year-old Rob and his family live on a farm. Rob helps his father with the endless chores farming demands, although rising before the sun isn’t Rob’s favorite task.

On Christmas Eve, Rob lay in bed wishing he had more money to have purchased a better present for his father, something more than the necktie he’d gotten. Suddenly he realizes he does have something more to give, something that doesn’t require money – a gift of true love from Rob to his father.

Librarian’s Choice

Library: Jefferson County Public Library, 420 West Main St., Madison

Library Director: Judi Terpening

Children’s Librarian: Kara Motsinger

Choices this week: “It Came in the Mail” by Ben Clanton; “Duck Rabbit” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; “The Year of the Book” by Andrea Cheng

Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

“Leonardo de Vinci: Meet the Artist!” written and illustrated by Patricia Geis, images various credits, Princeton Architectural Press, 2018, 17 pages, with 5 multi-page booklets, flaps, cutouts, pull tabs and pop-ups, $24.95 hardcover

Read aloud: age 8 – 12.

Read yourself: age 8/9 – 12.

Meet one of history’s most creative geniuses – Renaissance master Leonardo de Vinci.

This amazing book provides readers with an intimate, informative and engaging look into Leonardo’s life and vast accomplishments. Learn about Leonardo’s early years as a boy who wanted to know everything, and his apprenticeship at age fourteen with a famous artist in Florence, Italy, in the year 1466. Discover many of Leonardo’s paintings, portraits, complex mechanical designs, inventions and much more.

With pop-ups, pull tabs, flaps, multi-page bonus booklets, and a 3-page pop-out to design your own ideal city, Leonardo de Vinci is truly sumptuous, delightful for the mind and eye, and an extraordinary offering in every regard.

“Horse Meets Dog” by Elliot Kalan, illustrated by Tim Miller, Balzer + Bray, 2018, 40 pages, $17.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 4 – 8.

Read yourself: age 7 – 8.

As far as Dog is concerned, Horse is a wildly large dog who eats weird food and likes odd games. As far as Horse is concerned, Dog is very tiny because he is a baby horse with bad hair and a silly-looking tail.

The two continue to discuss their obvious differences. When tempers are on the verge of spilling over, an unexpected visitor arrives, causing Horse and Dog to do some thinking . . . .

Horse Meets Dog ticks every box with its laugh-aloud humor, funny illustrations, and the important, subtle message of learning to accept another for who they are, not what we want them to be.

“Orphaned” by Eliot Schrefer, Scholastic, 2018, 326 pages, $18.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 10 and older.

Read yourself: age 11 – 14.

Snub is a young gorilla living 600,000 years ago in what would become known as Africa. She and her family live in a beautiful area where they have plenty to eat and for Snub, much to explore. When Mother has a new baby to care for, Snub is jealous and doesn’t like how it takes Mother’s attention away from her. But Snub and her family soon face massive volcanic eruptions that send the family fleeing for safety in different directions.

Snub rescues her baby brother and cares for him as she searches for the rest of her family. But Snub soon encounters another creature that has been abandoned by her group – a young creature who walks on two legs. Snub takes the new creature under her protection as well, and the three face many life-threatening dangers as Snub continues to look for her family.

A monumental, thought-provoking achievement in every capacity, Orphaned will immediately seize the attention of readers as it transports them back in time to a first encounter between apes and humans.

Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature. She can be reached at and