Family Bookshelf: Gifts That Give


Give the gift of rhyme this holiday season with Mother Goose's Little Treasures (Candlewick, $17.99; ages 2 to 6). Continuing their tradition of lavish Mother Goose productions, distinguished folklorist Iona Opie and her perfectly matched artist Rosemary Wells give us 22 of the prolific Mother's less-familiar ditties. Rhymes like "The Moon Shines Bright" and "Oats and Beans and Barley" and "Mother, May I?" will have pre-readers saying "more, please."

 ... And food for thought with The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain (Farrar, Straus, $18; ages 7 and up). Peter Sis outdoes himself with exquisite drawings that reveal a boy trying to be an artist in Czechoslovakia under communism. Even young readers will be repelled by a place where no one can be trusted and secret police (depicted as pigs) are everywhere. Older readers will savor the gifts of the complex format, the saving grace of music (The Beatles, The Beach Boys) and the underlying theme that freedom can never be taken for granted

 ... Then a gift for the planet, with The Down-to-Earth Guide To Global Warming, by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon (Scholastic, $15.99, ages 8 and up). This entertaining but intensely practical book shows how even kids leave a carbon footprint, what that means, and all the ways they can take action right now to make it smaller.

 ... And, finally, the gift of more books! The Book Club Kit couldn't be more stimulating (American Girl, $10.95, ages 8 to 12). Patti Kelley Criswell and Ali Douglass present assorted supplies and a book with tips for organizing a club and leading a discussion. Book selections favor American Girl books, but there's plenty of room to branch out to other favorite titles. - Kathleen Krull