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Book ideas for busy Santas

The book, “I’m Not Missing,” by Skylar Hogan and Kashelle Gourley, will be especially appealing to dog lovers. (Courtesy)
Know a young reader? Here are some gift suggestions

It’s that time of year again, and busy Santas might appreciate some tips for young readers. Picking a great read for children young or older, won’t be difficult thanks to these options.

For older and young adult readers, these young adult books are great choices:


“The Fort,” by Gordon Korman, is the gifted author’s 100th book. His first book, written as a seventh grader, was published in 1978. “The Fort” is perfect for any reluctant reader. The discovery of a long hidden bomb shelter by five boys after the door is uncovered by a hurricane leads to life-changing events. Four of the boys are fast friends Evan, C.J., Mitchell and Jason. Ricky is the new kid and he is the one who makes the big find. It is a totally furnished underground escape, which boys determine to keep a secret. This turns out to be a great challenge. Each boy is dealing with different problems at home that they have been hiding. But as they say, the truth always comes out. This book is a great read for grades three and up.


“I Was Born for This,” by Alice Oseman, is a unique coming-of-age story for readers 14 and older. This story is about 18- to 19-year-old main characters from London. The big feature is a British boy band called the Ark. The main character, Jimmy Kaga Ricci, a trans member of the band, is dealing with anxiety and the problems that come with crazy fans everywhere. Angel, a Muslim, is a mega fan looking forward to meeting the band in person, especially Jimmy, her favorite. When many events go awry, Angel and Jimmy are thrown together, and they eventually are able help each other.

“The Lost Dreamer,” by Liz Huerta, is a complex and powerful fantasy story that takes place in Mesoamerica in a long-ago society. Indir comes from a long line of seers and is a gifted Dreamer. When a beloved king dies and his rash son takes over, he tries to bring an end to Indir’s family tradition that keeps their community healthy and safe. Meanwhile, Saya, another seer is living her life as a lie, thanks to her manipulative mother. As these two young, strong women take control of their lives and finally intersect, the patriarchal society is about to change for the better, if they can find the Lost Dreamer.


“Wildoak,” by C.C. Harrington, is a beautiful book that takes place in 1963 London. It features Maggie, a primary school student who stutters. Badly. She will do anything to keep from speaking in her class. Her last attempt was so bad her parents are sending her to be with her Grandpa Fred in Cornwall, which is better than being sent to the institution Granville, which has a nightmare reputation. Surprisingly, Maggie can speak fine with animals, including her small critter collection she keeps in her room. In London, Harrods had a Pet Kingdom that featured exotic pets for sale. This practice was outlawed in 1976. In this story, a white snow leopard cub was purchased as a gift. It goes horribly wrong and the cub is dumped into the area near Wild Oak. Rumpus the cub and Maggie’s lives intertwine, and Maggie turns her love of animals into her life’s work.

“Timeless Trivia, Volume Six, Junior Edition,” by Bob Hammitt, is a fun book for the whole family. Seven young students contributed questions and answers that includes fun, silly and serious topics from active imaginations. There are 1,000 questions and answers that can make for an entertaining evening with friends and family.


A delightful chapter book, “Violet & Jobie in the Wild,” by Lynne Rae Perkins, is a grand mouse adventure. Violet and Jobie are playing the Snap! Cheese game when the usual ending changes. Brother and sister are house mice, but on this fateful day they are trapped, and instead of meeting a sad end, they are taken in a box to a forest and set free in the wild. Their adventures meeting new critters and learning to survive are scary, fun and engaging. This is a clever and heartwarming story.

Picture books are perfect for young listeners or early readers.

“I’m Not Missing,” by Skylar Hogan and Kashelle Gourley, will be especially appealing to dog lovers. The brown mutt is done with having to do tricks and follow human commands, so he runs away to be free. His human girl puts up posters looking for her missing dog. But he’s not missing, he insists, he’s just living life on his own. Absence does makes the heart grow fonder, and Mutt soon wants to come home. This is clever and funny story with bright and colorful illustrations.

“Knight Owl,” by Christopher Denise, is a fanciful story about a young owl that aspires to be a knight. Finally his dream comes true after many other knights have disappeared. He is now a Knight night owl patrolling the castle walls at night. After a scary encounter, he finds out what has caused the missing knights, but because he is clever and resourceful, he saves the day, or better, the night.

“So Much Snow,” by Kristen Schroeder and Sarah Jacoby, is a perfect first book for toddlers. The Illustrations are watercolor and are both vibrant and soft. The story starts on Monday when the first snow flakes start to fall. As the days go by with each page featuring a different wild animal, rabbit, mouse, deer, etc., the animals keep wondering how much snow there will be. Then the cycle progresses and spring comes. This is the cycle of life with changing seasons. The length is perfectly timed for the smallest listeners.

Durango student helped with one of the books

Lucy Griffith is one of Durango’s youngest authors. She is a fourth grader at Mountain Middle School and she contributed questions and the answers for “Timeless Trivia, Volume Six Junior Edition” by Bob Hammitt. When we talked, she had this to say about her experience.

Lucy Griffith (Courtesy)

Q. How did you get involved?

A. My mom’s cousin (Bob Hammitt, a teacher) wanted to write a kids’ trivia book but he felt like he couldn’t write the right questions, so he asked some of the kids he knew to help, so I said yes.

Q. What was the most fun for you doing the book?

A. Thinking of the questions and writing them and then after I finished, telling my friends.

Q. How many trivia questions did you contribute out of the 1,000 included in the book?

A. I put in 100 and 55 got selected for the book.

Q. How long did you work on it?

A. I worked six to eight weeks, but not full time.

Q. Where did you get ideas for your questions ?

A. I got them from from books I was reading and the things I was learning in school.

Q. Do you have any advice for other young people who want to write?

A. I think mostly taking your time and not thinking you have to rush through it.

Q. What was your favorite question that you wrote?

A. What is a group of giraffes called? A Tower.

Leslie Doran is a retired teacher, freelance writer and former New Mexican who claims Durango as her forever home.