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Guide makes it easier to find the right books to give children

11/27/2012 | Dusty Rhodes, Arts and Humanities Editor | 217-333-0568;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Holiday shoppers hoping to please the youngsters on their gift lists can turn to the “Guide Book to Gift Books” published by the Center for Children’s Books at the University of Illinois. The annual guide, compiled by Deborah Stevenson, the editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books – a leading book review journal for school and public librarians – provides one-sentence descriptions of more than 350 of the best recently published volumes of youth literature, along with both traditional and e-book prices.

The guide can be downloaded, free of charge, at, making it convenient to consult on a smartphone or tablet while browsing at a bookstore.

The guide begins with picture books, including board books for infants and toddlers and books to help little ones prepare for a new sibling or pet, conquer potty training or drift off to sleep. There are books featuring all manner of animals, from the requisite bears, monkeys, owls, ponies and rabbits, to beavers, seals, sharks, slugs, spiders, worms and walruses. There’s even a book for girls who don’t like the color pink (“Olivia and the Fairy Princesses,” by Ian Falconer) and another book targeting girls who do (“Pink Me Up,” by Charise Harper).

Stevenson has arranged the guide by age groups, ending with books for seventh graders through high school. This section includes an abundance of mysteries, horror stories and tales of young love (of the first, unrequited, and doomed varieties), and books on substantive topics such as sexual identity, illness (cancer, multiple sclerosis and Asperger’s syndrome) and death. There’s also a plethora of books based on twists of the classics, such as “Little Vampire Women,” by Louisa May Alcott and Lynn Messina; “Jane” (April Lindner’s modern retelling of “Jane Eyre”); “This Dark Endeavor” (Kenneth Oppel’s prequel to “Frankenstein”); and “The Odyssey,” told in graphic novel form by Gareth Hinds.
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