Recent wonderful children's book?
August 12, 2010 9:18 AM   Subscribe

I need a beautiful, amazing children's book!

I need a baby shower gift! Unfortuntely time constraint and the fact that I have to take literally five trains to get to the party means I cant give a big present. Thus, I've decided to give her a gift certificate. Boring, I know. But at least I can tuck it into an awesome book!

Can anyone recommend a great children's book that I could readily find at your standard B&N/Borders/etc bookstore? I live in nyc so I have a lot of bookstores at my disposal. The shower is in a week, so I might be cutting it close to order something online.
posted by silverstatue to Writing & Language (46 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Animalia --- my favorite alphabet book.
posted by headnsouth at 9:22 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

Shel Silverstein wrote many amazing kids' books (Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and The Giving Tree are just a couple examples); however, I would guess that the kid would have to be at least preschool age to enjoy them.

My parents read me Dr. Seuss books, The Little Engine that Could, and Goodnight Moon a lot when I was really small. I must have really liked them, because I memorized all the Dr. Seuss books and then somehow used them like the Rosetta Stone so that I taught myself how to read when I was about 2.
posted by kataclysm at 9:22 AM on August 12, 2010

I love A Chair for My Mother.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:23 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

An Awesome Book is an awesome book! You can buy it directly from the author, and you can read the entire book online to preview it. I can't vouch for whether you'd be able to receive it in time, maybe email to find out?

It's also a toddler-age kind of book, but I've given it at baby showers before so parents have it at the ready when the time comes.
posted by pahool at 9:28 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I love all those suggestions but I really need newish books. The mom-to-be is a great lover of literature, so she already has all the classics (Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, Little House on the Prairie, Chris Van Allsburg, etc)

I need new stuff she may not have heard of :)
posted by silverstatue at 9:29 AM on August 12, 2010

My favorite book as a kid was Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. I try to give it to everyone I know who has a baby.
posted by galadriel at 9:31 AM on August 12, 2010

"Someday". Now, it's not STRICTLY a kids' book. However, it's sweet, gorgeous, profound and will make you sob. Can't recommend it enough.

"On the Day You Were Born" amazing simple cutout-art, simple but lyrical language and the power to make me cry more easily than even "Someday". It's lovely.

"Brava, Strega Nona" is the most amazing pop-up book I've ever seen.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:31 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Octonauts books are gorgeous. I also really like Little Mouse Gets Ready, which is more cute than beautiful, but the local toddlers I know find it hilarious.
posted by leesh at 9:32 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Baby shower means newborn which means they will have no interest in books for a long long time. Whatever you choose won't be appreciated by the baby for some time, but I suggest trying a book without words...Flotsam is amazing.

If giving a gift to new Dad is kosher, he'll likely love this book.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:34 AM on August 12, 2010

Best answer: "Old Bear" by Kevin Henkes.

If you don't mind something that will take a longer time to be fully appreciated, Instructions by Neil Gaiman.
posted by Jeanne at 9:38 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

If You're Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow is a good one with beautiful illustrations that one of your local bookstores if likely to have.
posted by pahool at 9:39 AM on August 12, 2010

Seconding anything David Wiesner has ever done - little to no words, but delightful, silly, gorgeous illustrations.

And I can't BELIEVE I forgot "Bad Kitty"! Every kid I've ever met has spent the entire book enraptured and giggling. It's subversive and fantastic.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:40 AM on August 12, 2010

Is it a girl? If so, Neil Gaiman's "Blueberry Girl."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:41 AM on August 12, 2010

If you're set on giving a book, my suggestion is The First 1000 Days.
posted by at the crossroads at 9:41 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I LOVE the Pigeon books by Mo Willems. There are picture books and another series of board books for younger kids. They look simple, but the way he uses the pages and puts these amazing, hilarious expressions on crayon-y drawings of a pigeon... really delightful. (The Caldecott people thought so, too -- he won a Caldecott Honor in 2003 for Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.)

They were recommended to me by a librarian, so there you go.
posted by Madamina at 9:49 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: It will be a boy.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far! I cant wait to check 'em all out after work.
posted by silverstatue at 9:50 AM on August 12, 2010

Any of the books by Richard Scarry make a great gift for a child. "What do people do all day?" is an especially fun one. Kids love his books so much, because there is so much detail, and little hidden treats in the drawings, that they can look at them again and again while still discovering something new each time.

"Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel" by Virginia Lee Burton is another outstanding book for kids. The illustrations have sort of an "old-timey" warmth to them, which is sometimes lacking a bit in modern books.
posted by EvilPRGuy at 9:55 AM on August 12, 2010

If you wanted to opt for immediate usability over heirloom quality, my vote would be for a boxed set of books by Sandra Boynton (But Not The Hippopotamus and The Going To Bed Book are favorites). They are not Great Art, but are charming, unique and silly, and enjoyable for even very small babies. Most of the young parents I know have at least one of her books memorized.
posted by Bardolph at 10:00 AM on August 12, 2010

Oh, where to start....

Goodnight Moon. Gotta have a copy of that. Same for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. We Were Tired of Living in a House. I Went Walking. All great ones for young kids.

For very young kids, find books that have a nice rhythm when read aloud. More fun for adults to read and kids love to hear them over and over.

("Stop! You must not Hop on Pop!" But I digress)

Anything by Chris Raschka is wonderful.

My kids loved the beautiful and quirky Max Stravinsky books by Maira Kalman and Who Needs Donuts by Mark Stamaty.

Or if you're going for longevity, s'hard to beat the books by David MacCaulay, especially The Way We Work, which is engaging at all ages and exquisitely illustrated.
posted by cross_impact at 10:04 AM on August 12, 2010

Best answer: Owl Moon has beautiful pictures and while not very new is also not very well known.

Also, it's not even remotely new, The Story of Ferdinand has absolutely wonderful illustrations.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:28 AM on August 12, 2010

Seconding the recs for Boynton and Mo Willems. Kids love these books and parents can read them a million times without wanting to gouge their eyes out or make the books "disappear". I would vote for fun books vs. books that make you cry.

Mem Fox's & Helen Oxenbury's Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes is fairly recent and would be a good one for reading to babies. We're Going on a Bear Hunt is a classic and a good read-aloud.

My Very First Mother Goose and Here Comes Mother Goose have lots of fun illustrations.

Not a Box and Not a Stick encourage imaginative play.
posted by mogget at 10:30 AM on August 12, 2010

2nding On The Day You Were Born. It's a fantastic new baby gift, and a lovely book.
posted by Abbril at 10:33 AM on August 12, 2010

If you want new as in this year and want to impress a literary parent, you could use this list of 2010 books with starred reviews, with the books with the most stars so far at the top. The list is for all types of children's books, so if you want a picture book you'll have to find them among the others.

The best-reviewed picture book of 2010 so far, based on this list, seems to be The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan. It's about Pablo Neruda and illustrated by Peter Sis, one of the great living illustrators, and it's pretty recent, so it might really please your literature-loving, tuned-in friend.

Of course, if you want super kid-friendly too, that's tougher. From that list, for truly kid-oriented fare, I'd recommend The Boss Baby, except it doesn't come out until 8/31, so you probably won't find it in stores before the shower. Maybe Shark vs. Train?
posted by lampoil at 10:34 AM on August 12, 2010

I think Every Single Night has great illustrations, and it's newer. Also, All The World comes to mind.
posted by questionsandanchors at 10:56 AM on August 12, 2010

I couldn't tell you what kids think, but I think Peter McCarty's books are pretty wonderful.
posted by clavicle at 11:04 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Old Cricket by Lisa Wheeler, with illustrations by Ponder Goembel. Some of the most beautiful illustrations I've seen in years. They did a couple of other books together, but Old Cricket is the best one.
posted by wwartorff at 11:37 AM on August 12, 2010

This is an odd choice, and a gift for the future - but my daughter gravitates toward this copy of The Spider and the Fly, and has for the past three years. She saw it at a friend's house (boy) and loved it, and so we got it for her. It looks like no other books she has, and it's the one I most often find her looking through on her own. Maybe she's odd, but I like it too.
posted by peagood at 11:59 AM on August 12, 2010

A lot of nice books have been suggested so far, but many of them are for older children. There are different kinds of picture books, y'know? Maira Kalman and Peter Sís will be great...but in eight or ten years.

I know you said B&N and their ilk, but honestly, I'd just go into Books of Wonder if you're downtown (16th or 17th between 5th and 6th...I think?) or Bank Street Bookstore (Broadway at 112th) if you're uptown and ask for a recommendation for a recent young picture book. (You could also ask about board books, but the selection of those tends to be limited. Those bookstores have a great, up-to-date selection that's deeper than the obvious choices and very knowledgeable staff. They'll have exactly what you want, for sure.

Some concrete suggestions:

Picture books:
Kevin Henkes' younger stuff (Old Bear, Kitten's First Full Moon, etc), as suggested above, was a good idea. Likewise Chris Raschka's younger stuff (Five For a Little One, for example).
Jerry Pinkney's 2009 Caldecott winner, The Lion and the Mouse, has gotten raves.
I'm a huge fan of David Ezra Stein. Leaves is amazing.
Steve Jenkins has tons of great animal books, some younger than others. Move! is good for the very young, and Actual Size is probably dramatic enough to please anyone.

Things available in board book form:
Donald Crews is classic and awesome.
Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann (I think) seriously rocks.
posted by the_blizz at 12:19 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love the Awesome Book above and now must go buy that for my son.

The Sandra Boynton books are awesome, however, my son HATES them. He won't even let us hold them without running away or taking them and throwing them across the room. This is without us having ever read it to him, he just seems to know (he's 1) that it's a Boynton book.

Little Mouse is definitely adorable, and Chicka Chicka was our favorite book for a bit. And every day we read Goodnight Gorilla several times.

Usborne Books, in particularly the " That's Not My ______" books have been a big hit.

If either parent is engineer/machine minded, they will probably love the How things work book.

Also, Slide and Find books (like this Trucks one) have been a bit hit with all the kids I know.
posted by katers890 at 1:04 PM on August 12, 2010

One of my favorites to give is A Child's Book of Art by Lucy Micklethwait. It shows classic and modern paintings (or portions of them) and then has a word by it, like "family" or "happy" or "stars" or "farm". Great for first concepts, and they can start reading it to the child even before he is old enough to follow a standard story.
posted by Knowyournuts at 1:14 PM on August 12, 2010

Best answer: There are lots of great newer children's picture books out there but I would recommend Flotsam by David Weisner. It is a Caldecott Medal winner so you should be able to find it readily. The pictures are amazing and incredible and I think that it is a perfect choice for a boy (although my daughter loves it too) without being a book about football playing dinosaurs riding tractors (which can be great btw but not always timeless classics).
posted by rosebengal at 1:26 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Some kids really love A House is a House for Me.
posted by not that girl at 1:29 PM on August 12, 2010

I love Nikki McClure's work.

One of my favorites is Lane Smith's Big Pets which has great illustrations and a sweet story.
posted by vespabelle at 1:45 PM on August 12, 2010

There is only one, and it is Where the Wild Things Are.

Alternatively, if you know what the child's name will be, hie thee to Abebooks and hunt down a nice first edition of a children's book with their name in the title. You don't have to break the bank: don't get a copy in mint/near-mint condition, and on, say, Charlotte's Web a UK first is les than a tenth of the price of a US first, or at least it was when I got one for my niece.
posted by Hogshead at 2:21 PM on August 12, 2010

A cute one my partner just found is How Do Lions Say I Love You? by Diane Muldrow. Another recent (and freaking adorable) board book Just Like My Mum/Mom by David Melling. Both of these have truly lovely illustrations and are super-cute stories.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:23 PM on August 12, 2010

A beautiful physical book, as well as being a surprising likable tale, is --of all people-- Bette Midler's "The Saga of Baby Devine."
posted by umberto at 2:43 PM on August 12, 2010

Anything by Mo Willems.
posted by umbú at 2:58 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

The board book version of I am a Bunny is my standard baby shower gift. It was one of my favorites as a kid.
posted by belladonna at 4:16 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding Boynton and Goodnight, Gorilla.

Best book that little babies really like, though? Don't have a link handy, but go into Borders and ask for the Black&White and White & Black books. Simple graphic images that babies find absolutely mesmerizing. Trust me on this.
posted by purenitrous at 4:22 PM on August 12, 2010

The Salamander Room is one of the most gorgeously illustrated children's books ever. I loved reading this to my nephew. Get the hard cover version with full page illustrations.
posted by marsha56 at 4:47 PM on August 12, 2010

I'd reccommend I'm Gonna Like Me for its bright colors and kid characters, The Very Hungry Caterpillar (although your friend may already have plenty of Eric Carle), and my mom's favorite, Love You Forever
posted by genekelly'srollerskates at 4:55 PM on August 12, 2010

I have a beautiful copy of The Velveteen Rabbit from my childhood. It's special.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 5:59 PM on August 12, 2010

My biggest issue with children's books is that so few of them sound mellifluous when read aloud. That's why I like Bats At The Beach.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:01 PM on August 12, 2010

Best answer: Tickets to Ride is my go-to baby shower gift. Its an extraordinary book, and I don't even know what it is that I find so captivating about it.

But I've never seen someone just flip through a few pages and put it back down again. It grabs you.
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 12:59 AM on August 13, 2010

Nthing Mo Willems; his Cat the Cat books are geared to younger ages than the Pigeon ones.
posted by brujita at 1:36 AM on August 14, 2010

Response by poster: Lots of really great stuff here! I think I'm going to go with Instructions by Neil Gaiman (because I love him) and also Flotsam cuz that looks gorgeous. Also, I forgot about Jane Yolen! Her stuff is always amazing. I'm going to keep this list for future baby/children gifts! Thanks everyone.
posted by silverstatue at 7:49 AM on August 17, 2010

« Older Give me what I want, or I shall rub you a second...   |   Help me get paid to hold this guy's hand Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.