Girls can be hard to buy for. They're picky! We're picky - us girls. Here are some things to think about when you're buying for girls.
Is she an animal lover?
Korgi by Christian Slade. For anyone age maybe 5 or 6 and up, up, up. Wordless, but not toothless. Unbelievably adorable little corgi dog and his girl (who has wings but I wouldn't call her a fairy) get into trouble with monsters and squidlike aliens and scrap their way out. Black and white, but that doesn't seem to be a problem with this title. And Korgi Book 2 is even better than the first.
Does she like action?
Rapunzel's Revenge by three Hales. Mmm, call this 10 and up. There are bullets and a hint of romance. Also wit. And BEAUTIFUL, detailed color art. I think this is one of the best graphic novels of the year.
The Lost Island of Tamarindby Nadia Aguilar. Age 10 and up. Reviewed earlier.
Any interest in cooking?
The Spatulatta Cookbook. Age 7 and up, but you might be able to push it younger if there is an interested grownup in the house. This is last year's excellent cookbook for kids, but nothing this year tops it. It's two sisters doing the cooking, and they're in most of the pictures, fooling around, demonstrating, having a good time. It's spiral bound, which is so great for cookbooks. And the pictures make the food look appetizing, not weird. The best kid cookbook I've seen this year is Southern Living Kids Cookbook, which kind of surprised me.
Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell. Age 7 and up. Heavily illustrated, this is kind of a bridge book between First Chapter type books and regular chapter books. A lot of the clues are in the crinkly, detailed pictures, which is super fun.
The Far-Flung Adventures series by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. Age 9 and up. Not as heavily illustrated, super sense of humor. I know an entire class of seven year olds who pushed their reading ability so that they could read one of these books together, and they all loved it.
The 39 Clues. Age 9 and up. Ok ok it's gimmicky as all get-out, with the cards, and the online thing, and the actual prizes, but kids are lapping it up and the authors that are participating are first-rate. Plus the characters are interesting and strongly-written, and the plot is respectably labyrinthine.
Is she curious about the world?
What the World Eats. From the team that brought us Material World: A Global Family Portrait back in 1995 - you know, the book that showed families all over the world in their houses, and with all their stuff brought outside for a picture? Holy crap, we should do that with our house, and see what we can leave out on the curb. But anyway. The new book has the same lush, colorful, giant pictures, the same potent juxtapositions, and results in the same sense of insight about wealth, and health, and opportunity.
And once those insights have been attained, there's Give a Goat, a picture book for kids maybe first grade and up that's all about Heifer International. The kid in the book organizes his class to raise money so that they can purchase a goat via Heifer. Touches on teamwork, responsibility, compassion, arithmetic, and economics. A terrific accompanying gift if you yourself give flocks of chicks for the holidays.
Oh, you've got a teen girl to buy for?
Sorry, you're screwed. Can't make a teen happy. Amazon gift card, baby. That way, if she spends it on The Twilight Saga: Slipcased, you don't have to know about it.
Ahem. Did you really think I was going to leave you in the lurch like that? Naw... here are just a couple ideas for teenage girls.
Get her to make me one of those mohawk hats, will ya?
Not so adeptly crafty, and not as much of an anarchist?
Cute but not kawaii.
Ignore the stupid title, this one is an excellent how-to for self-expression, covering technical aspects as well as inspiration.
Buy her art supplies, but throw in this one for inspiration.
I'd be tempted to buy actress/mathematician Danica McKellar's new book, Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss, for a middle school or teen girl, but I'd be afraid it'd look like I was being all preachy. If you can get away with it, you should. The book is legitimately funny and helpful and hard to put down! Who'd'a guessed?
And if she sometimes feels the pressure:
It's wonderful. It's a year in the life of several high school students in Chicago - it's like a reality show with a writer.
Stay tuned for the boy books.
your neighborhood librarian