Christmas 2011 Books

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This page was created for somebody who wanted some recommendations at Christmas 2011. A few more may be added in the future.

These books may be suitable as Christmas gifts for children and young adults through college age.




Sugar Creek Gang books by Paul Hutchens.

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This is a series of Christian children's novels that's been in print for about 50 years. The series is quite dated, but it's fun and religion is handled in a natural way; it's not a set of heavy-handed tracts.

For more information, visit the series' Wikipedia page or its Amazon pages.





The Night Country by Loren Eiseley.

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This one would be good for a busy college student when she's in the mood for a change of pace.

Loren Eiseley was a noted anthropologist, and The Night Country is a collection of essays that he wrote about his life and work. The book is non-fiction, but it borders on magical realism in places.

Note: Dr. Eiseley's earlier writings may have influenced Ray Bradbury.

For more information, visit the book's Amazon page.

Here's an excerpt from the book:

If you cannot bear the silence and the darkness, do not go there; if you dislike black night and yawning chasms, never make them your profession. If you fear the sound of water hurrying through crevices toward unknown and mysterious destinations, do not consider it. Seek out the sunshine. It is a simpler prescription. Avoid the darkness.





Complete and Utter Failure by Neil Steinberg.

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Complete and Utter Failure is an interesting look at gambles, ventures, and commitments that didn't quite work out. The book discusses a wide range of subjects, ranging from Mount Everest expeditions and smokeless cigarettes to spelling bees and Baby Jesus dolls.

For more information, visit the book's Amazon page.





The Revolving Boy by Gertrude Friedberg.

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This is a YA novel about a boy who, as the book's blurb says, has one unique talent and no way to use it.

For more information, visit the book's Amazon page.





A Wrinkle in Time series by Madeleine L'Engle.

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This is a series of novels that's sort of a latter-day U.S. take on C.S. Lewis's Christian novels (the Narnia series, the Perelandra trilogy, etc.).

As with Lewis's Narnia series, the Wrinkle in Time books were written for children but have sufficient depth for college students and adults.

The series is remarkable in some respects. It attempts to introduce concepts such as tesseracts (four dimensional structures), mutants, and mitochondrial intelligence to children, all in a Christian context.

There are four books in the main series: A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters (which is about Noah's Flood). The first book, A Wrinkle in Time, won a Newbery Medal.

There's a second series that's loosely connected to the first one through a book named An Acceptable Time, but I haven't read that one.

For more information, visit L'Engle's Wikipedia page.





Fortunately by Remy Charlip.

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This is a “read to me” book that's endured for about 50 years. To give you an idea of the book's plot:

Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party. Unfortunately, the party was a thousand miles away. Fortunately, a friend loaned Ned an airplane. Unfortunately, the motor exploded. Fortunately, there was a parachute in the airplane. Unfortunately, there was a hole in the parachute.

It's been decades, but I still laugh when I think about poor Ned.

For more information, visit the book's Amazon page.





The Green Futures of Tycho by William Sleator.

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The Green Futures of Tycho is a Young Adult S.F. novel. The book isn't well-known, but it's been popular enough to remain in print for nearly 30 years. The story's about a boy with a troubled family who needs to rethink things when he visits the future and finds out that he's destined to become a villain.

In the cover picture on the left, the villain who's chasing the boy is the boy himself. Or maybe it's one of the aliens who invented the time machine Tycho is using, but the first perspective works as well.

Trivia: The title character (Tycho Tithonus) is named after the author's brother.

For more information, visit the book's Amazon page.





The H-Bomb Girl by Stephen Baxter.

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The H-Bomb Girl is a Young Adult novel intended for teenage girls, but it would make a pretty good action-adventure film. The heroine is a British girl. She's trying to figure out her life and future during the 1960s Cuban Missile Crisis.

Things get complicated when strangers who seem oddly familiar show up and start to interfere with her life. I won't provide spoilers here, but the punchline won't be surprising to fans of time travel stories.

Note: If you like this book, try The Time Ships and Manifold: Time (Stephen Baxter novels that are discussed elsewhere on this site).

For more information, visit the book's Amazon page.





The Forgotten Door by Alexander Key.

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This is a children's book that's suitable for both boys and girls ages 6 to 9. It was written about 50 years ago by Alexander Key, who went on to pen Escape to Witch Mountain, which was made into a couple of 1970s Disney movies.

Your correspondent read the book in the 1960s and is pleased to see that it's still available.

The Forgotten Door is about a boy from a parallel Earth who stumbles into our world. The story has more than a few similarities to E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial.

There's both a children's version and a YA version. The YA version was apparently tweaked for a teenage audience. If possible, get the original version.

For more information, visit the book's Amazon page.





To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.

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To Say Nothing of the Dog is a subtle and complicated comedy for both young and old adults by Connie Willis, one of the most interesting S.F. writers of the past few decades.

Note: If you can find a copy of Willis's remarkable World War II vampire story Jack, check it out.

For more information about To Say Nothing of the Dog, visit the book's Amazon page.





Freddy the Pig series by Walter R. Brooks.

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This is a children's book series that's suitable for both boys and girls ages 6 to 8. The series is incredibly dated, because it's set on a farm; and what modern child has ever heard of a farm? But the books are still available, and they're still good for beginning readers.

For more information about the series entry shown here, visit the book's Amazon page.





The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson.

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Calvin and Hobbes are fine for all ages.

For bonus points, if you give a book from this series to somebody, explain who the historical Calvin and Hobbes actually were. Hint: Middle Ages and religious philosphers.

Regarding the cover shown here: Poor long-suffering Susie. :-) But Calvin is destined to marry her someday.

There's plenty of books featuring these characters. For more information about this one, visit the book's Amazon page.





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