Giving the Gift of Picture Books

By Nancy Carlson, author and illustrator of This Morning Sam Went to Mars

NancyCarlson_FSP AuthorThis year my holiday book giving is going to be fun! I have a new granddaughter named Charlotte who is 18 months old, and her two favorite things are books and animals. That makes a fun combination for gifts.

First, since Charlotte is still pretty little, I’m giving her Where’s Walrus? by Stephen Savage. This wordless picture book has simple bold art with a limited palate of colors. Walrus escapes from the zoo and hides all over New York City. I think Charlotte will have fun trying to find Walrus on each page. When I show this to school-age kids in the classes I teach, they really get into finding Walrus!

The second book I am getting Charlotte is Me . . . Jane by Patrick McDonnell. This is a recent Caldecott Honor book, and I love it. The story is about Jane Goodall when she was a little girl. Me _ _ _ JaneIn the story, Jane is given a stuffed chimpanzee that she loves very much. The drawings are simple and loosely drawn but very sweet. I think Charlotte will love all the little animals in the illustrations. She might not be old enough to understand the story, but when she is, the message is powerful: If you dream big, those dreams just might come true!

Next, Warning: Do Not Open This Book by Adam Lehrhaupt and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe is a really funny book about some naughty monkeys, toucans, and an alligator. What I like about this book is all the monkeys to look at on each page doing funny things. The concept is a bit old for Charlotte, but the art is really interesting, and best of all, adults will enjoy reading this just as much as the kids!

Harriet and Georges Christmas TreatFinally, I will give her my book, Harriet and George’s Christmas Treat. She must have one of Grandma’s books under the tree. Some day she will understand how awful fruitcake is, but until then hopefully she will just like looking at Harriet the dog and George the bunny as they try to avoid Ms. Hoozit’s fruitcake in the story.

These are my holiday picks for little Charlotte and Grandma to have fun reading together this New Year! Click here for more book-gifting suggestions.

What books will you be giving for the holidays?

ThisMorningSamWentToMars1Nancy Carlson is an accomplished children’s book author and illustrator who has published more than 60 books. A lifelong Minnesotan, Nancy graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design with a major in printmaking. She believes that life should be fun for everyone, but especially for children. This optimistic message permeates her picture books and provides a positive counterpoint to much of what children are influenced by in today’s society. Her characters convey positive messages without being “preachy.” They gently remind children what is right. Visit Nancy at

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