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Holiday Gift List: Little Ones

by Ayesha Clough

It’s never too early to share the magic of reading with your children, so here’s a roundup of the best new kids’ books from your local Alberta publishers. Whether it’s a twenty-five-book gift set, a brand new baby board book, or an award-winning graphic novel, there’s something for everyone on your list. So let’s get the kiddos hooked on books this holiday season! If you’ve got your own suggestions, please share them on social media and tag us @WeReadAB.

Don’t forget: The book industry in Alberta and across North America is facing supply chain issues that are impacting the availability of books. If you can’t find the exact title you are looking for, #GoBeyondTheGiftGuide and ask your local independent bookseller for a recommendation instead.

Alberta Blue

by Pat Hatherly & Jesse Horne

Perfect for sleepy time with your tiny Albertan, ages 0-4

Snuggle up with your little one and enjoy this Made-in-Alberta board book, a tribute to our big skies and wide-open landscapes. Marvel at the beauty of our province with rhyming verses and watercolour vistas. Based on a song by Alberta folk band The Travelling Mabels, Alberta Blue is an excellent baby gift for new parents, and the perfect little lullaby for every Albertan baby. A gift set is also on offer at the publisher’s website with a plush toy, onesie and baby blanket.

Alberta Blue: A prairie sky lullaby

Pat Hatherly (CA)

Published: Oct 20, 2021 by Red Barn Books
ISBN: 9781989915028

The Wonders That I Find

by Meghan J Ward & Taylor Odynski

Perfect for nature nuts and little explorers, ages 4-8

Little Geneva sets off on a challenging hike, her adorable teddy in tow. As her parents hurry her along to the summit, she stops to appreciate the endless beauty along the way. Packed with gorgeous panoramic watercolour illustrations by Calgary artist Taylor “Tay” Odynski and written by Banff-based author Meghan J. Ward, this picture book taps into a child’s curiosity about the world—something we all possess but often neglect as we grow older. Written in pleasing rhyme, it encourages us to slow down and savour the journey as much as the destination.

The Wonders That I Find

Meghan J. Ward (CA)

Published: Mar 30, 2021 by RMB | Rocky Mountain Books
ISBN: 9781771604451

Christmas Jokes for Kids

by David MacLennan

Perfect for the kid who’s always kidding around, ages 6+

Q: Who says, “Oh! Oh! Oh!?” A: Santa walking backwards! 

Q: What do they sing under the ocean during the winter? A: Christmas corals!

Keep the family in stitches over the holidays with more jokes that will crack up the little ones, and add lots of levity to the family gathering. You can’t go wrong!

Christmas Jokes for Kids

David MacLennan (CA)

Published: Nov 01, 2013 by Folklore Publishing
ISBN: 9781926677910

Spirit Animals

by Wayne Arthurson

Perfect to remind kids that life’s greatest gifts aren’t found under the tree, ages 8+

From Wayne Arthurson, an award-winning Indigenous writer from Edmonton, a beautifully illustrated book of legends. Turtle carries North America on its back and symbolizes peace and balance. Bear is called “Grandfather” for its strength, leadership, confidence, and courage. Coyote gifted us with fire and knowledge of herbs and food. Wolf taught us to hunt and form communities. If you see these Spirit Animals or Totems reflected in your own life, you have received their gift.

Spirit Animals: Meanings & Stories

Wayne Arthurson (CA)

Published: Jun 15, 2015 by Eschia Books
ISBN: 9781926696263

Kids’ Short Story Advent Calendar

Perfect for the budding bibliophile, ages 9+

We may be a bit late to the party, but this Advent Calendar of short stories for kids is too good to pass up! Featured in the Washington Post and hitting the Alberta bestseller list for weeks, this gift set from boutique Alberta publisher Hingston & Olsen is a surefire hit with bookworms. The Kids’ Short Story Advent Calendar is a beautifully presented set of twenty-five individually bound booklets with short stories from some of the best writers around, including Kenneth Oppel, Beatrix Potter, Terry Pratchett, Jerry Spinelli, and Jacqueline Woodson. Even if you’re too late for a Christmas countdown, you can get a head start on your New Year’s reading resolution!

Photo of the Kids' Short Story Advent Calendar

Kids’ Short Story Advent Calendar

Cover art by Fran Labuschagne

Published: Oct 01, 2021 by Hingston & Olsen

ISBN: 9781777185558

Mega Rex

by Dr. W. Scott Persons IV

Perfect for the wannabe paleontologist, ages 9+

If you have a diehard dinosaur lover on your list, look no further. This gorgeous book by Edmonton’s Dr. Scott Persons is packed with photos, lifelike illustrations, and jaw-crunching stories that are sure to keep your kid enthralled.

“Biting right into hard bone would have broken most other dinosaurs’ teeth. But the thick teeth of tyrannosaurids could handle it. Combined with the extra jaw power, tyrannosaurid teeth could sink deep into a dinosaur and crunch right through its skeleton.”

Lots more where that came from when you sink your teeth into this book!

Mega Rex: A Tyrannosaurus Named Scotty

W. Scott Persons (CA)

Published: Aug 08, 2020 by Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd.
ISBN: 9781550179057

Christmas Carols

by Tonya Lambert

Perfect for the kid who loves to karaoke around the tree, ages 9+

Did you know that George Rock, who first recorded “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth,” received thousands of teeth in the mail, two at a time, from children? Or that songwriter Irving Berlin tried unsuccessfully to get Elvis Presley’s version of “White Christmas” banned from radio stations? In this read-aloud collection, Tonya Lambert reveals the stories and trivia behind popular Christmas carols—the music, the lyrics, the composers, the singers, and the time and traditions around which they were written.

Christmas Carols: The Stories Behind the Songs

Tonya Lambert (CA)

Published: Sep 27, 2012 by Blue Bike Books
ISBN: 9781926700397

A Slug Story

by Mandi & Hana Kujawa

Perfect for kids dealing with illness or adversity, ages 10-14

A middle-grade graphic novel by a mother-daughter duo from Banff, this brave and touching story is based on the real-life experiences of the daughter, Hana Kujawa, who suffered a medical crisis while in university. In the book, a high school student called Marcus suffers a brain injury brought on by a mysterious virus. In hospital, he meets a fellow patient, Emily, and together they find ways to cope with their new reality. Winner of the Doug Wright ‘Egghead’ Award for Best Kid’s Book 2021, this is a story about kindness and acceptance—something we can all benefit from as the dreaded pandemic rolls on.

A Slug Story

Mandi Kujawa (CA), Hana Kujawa

Published: Sep 09, 2020 by Renegade Arts Entertainment
ISBN: 9781988903767

Rescue at Fort Edmonton

by Rita Feutl

Perfect for Outlander fans and history buffs, ages 10-14

Part mystery, part thriller, part historical fiction, this is a thoroughly engaging adventure that takes readers to four different periods of Edmonton’s history with the time-travelling teen Janey. Janey doesn’t want to spend the summer away from her friends in Toronto—and certainly not in Edmonton with the grandmother she hardly knows. Her first surprise is her feisty grandma, who meets her at the airport in her vintage Cadillac. The second comes when she visits the Fort Edmonton historic park and time travels to 1907. What keeps drawing her into the past? What do her adventures mean? And what’s the connection to her family?

Rescue at Fort Edmonton

Rita Feutl (CA)

Published: Sep 01, 2021 by NeWest Press
ISBN: 9781774390412

About the Author

Photo of Ayesha CloughAyesha Clough is the owner/operator of Red Barn Books, a boutique publisher of western-themed books by Alberta authors and artists. As a former journalist and a mom, it’s her personal conviction that Alberta kids need more Alberta stories. She’s delighted that the BrightSparks! column will shine a light on locally-produced titles for young readers. Email ayesha@redbarnbooks.ca with your suggestions and feedback.

BrightSparks! is the Read Alberta column that’s all about kidlit.