A blizzard of winter reading fun for kids
With more people trying to eat locally grown food, booklovers can start their own trend: Read locally! Recent children's books by Puget...
Special to The Seattle Times
With more people trying to eat locally grown food, booklovers can start their own trend: Read locally! Recent children's books by Puget Sound-area authors and illustrators will make great holiday gifts or keep kids busy over winter break.
Bainbridge Island author George Shannon's "Rabbit's Gift" (Harcourt, 32 pp., $16, ages 3-6) is not a Christmas story, but the wintry tale's pay-it-forward message will resonate this time of year. Shannon retells a folk tale (he traced its origins to China) about Rabbit, who decides to give an extra turnip to his pal Donkey. A procession of generous animals finally ends with the treat back to Rabbit, who finds a way to share the bounty with all his friends. Illustrator Laura Dronzek's bright paintings warm the snowy scenes. Parents can use the book to help children understand the concept of "enough" when the season's giving spirit is marred by the gimmes.
Folk art and traditional textiles inspired Seattle illustrator Julie Paschkis' bold gouache paintings in Newbery Award-winning author Paul Fleischman's "Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal" (Henry Holt, 32 pp., ages 7-10). Fleischman's multicultural take on Cinderella blends versions from 17 countries, hitting on differences such as the style of magical dress and the wedding feast menu. Paschkis' illustrations keep the multiple plot points in check by visually explaining the cultural origins of each line. Cinderella's transformations might confuse younger children, but older kids will find it fascinating.
Fans of fabled creatures will enjoy the "The Eyes of the Unicorn" (Holiday House, $17.95, ages 8-11) by Tacoma resident Teresa Bateman. Tanisa, a serving girl in a duke's hall, saves a unicorn from a hunting arrow shot by the duke's son. When Tanisa is wounded in the process, the unicorn heals her — and the duke son's hardened heart. Illustrations by Greg Spalenka blend photographs with paintings for an otherworldly effect.
Seattle author Thatcher Heldring's first novel, "Toby Wheeler: Eighth-Grade Benchwarmer" (Delacorte, 211 pp., $14.99, ages 9-12), follows the titular Toby as he trades his "gym rat" ways for a spot on his school basketball team. Falling for the coach's daughter (a fellow basketball player, in a nice updating of the genre) complicates his efforts, as does his strained relationship with his former best buddy, the team's star player. Toby is a likable first-person narrator who accepts that he can use help on everything from dribbling to romance. " 'Toby, do you know anything about girls?' 'No,' I said, sinking in my seat. 'I really, really don't.' "
Brendan Buckley's Grandma calls him her "milk chocolate"; as he explains, "Dad's the chocolate. Mom's the milk." At 10, Brendan is just beginning to discover how race — and racism — affects him in Renton author Sundee Frazier's "Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It" (Delacorte, 198 pp., $14.99, ages 8-11). Set in South King County, readers will recognize local spots like the SuperMall, where Brendan accidentally meets the white grandfather his mom refuses to discuss. As he encounters bullies and learns why his grandfather disowned his mom, Brendan struggles with the very difficult concept of bigotry. "I tried to tell [your mother], the children are the ones who suffer," his grandfather says. Brendan's simple reply: "I'm not suffering." Despite the deep topics, Frazier, who is also biracial, keeps a mostly light tone.
Whidbey Island author Amber Kizer's young-adult novel, "Gert Garibaldi's Rants and Raves: One Butt Cheek at a Time" (Delacorte, 192 pp., $18.99, ages 14 and up), dishes out advice on everything from thongs to social types ("giggles" are thin, fashionable girls) to womanhood. Despite the provocative title, Kizer's frank style is more a teenage version of "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" than it is a "Gossip Girls"-style sex-and-drinking romp (and that's a good thing). Gert, a high-school sophomore, has a gay best friend, a crush on an older guy and clueless parents. The book's strength — Gert's funny, slang-heavy narration — can also be its weakness when her mannerisms get tiresome. However, it's hard not to relate to a girl who is mortified when she turns 16 and her parents give her permission to go out with boys. "I didn't even know I'm not allowed to date. How pathetic is that?"
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Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.