Books and Boots: a post about Christmas presents

How was your Christmas? Mine was great. My awesome big brother got me some good looking books:

He said The Letter for the King is a foreign film that he really likes. He hasn't read the book, so I'm supposed to read it and tell him how it is. I'm excited to read the book (and was a little annoyed that my sister was hogging it while she was in town) and I'm excited to see the movie once I'm done. 

Ransom also got me the Ever After High boxed set - yay! I read book one and enjoyed it, but hadn't got around to books two and three yet. My Shannon Hale collection is complete once again . . . if you don't count co-authored series or short story collections. 

Surprisingly, we didn't get any books for the kids this Christmas. Maybe it's because currently my bookshelves are all out of order, and I kind of feel like I need to get a handle on them before going into acquisition mode. (I find my home library maintenance has several modes: acquisition mode, and thinning mode are the main ones.) I did intend to buy some books though. I bought a few good ones at goodwill the other day and meant to get back there without the kids and pick out a few more but it never happened. Maybe also the fact that we've had Bookroo for the last couple months curbed my book-giving impulse.

I did, however, get my dad a book for Christmas. It's Smart Money Smart Kids. That's so he can read it and teach me how to teach my kids about money.

Telling you that we didn't give the kids any books makes me feel like telling you what we did get them. I read a nice post by Janssen the other day where she talked about how there are a million gift guides on her internet around Christmastime. She said "I look at those and think, 'What did you ACTUALLY spend your own money on? (And did you really buy chocolate covered bacon?)'" I think my way of doing a holiday gift guide is much more practical than the typical, magazine style gift guide.

So. What did we actually spend our own money on? This year we bought the kids K'nex, Snap Circuits, and Melissa & Doug hand puppets.

And now, my parents want pictures of the kids in the presents they sent. So you all can enjoy, too. 
 I taught Benjamin how to hook his thumbs through his belt loops. He's a natural.

 Levi is pretty excited to be holding the reins.

This rodeo princess can rope and scratch her nose at the same time!

On Jubilee: Durango Boots
On Benjamin: Rocky Boots
On Levi: Ariat Boots

^ And that right there ^ makes me a fashion blogger! Tada! See how I just expanded like that? Boots, books, only one letter is different. I know, because I kept typing Books instead of Boots.

Now that Christmas is over, I'm very much looking forward to the announcement of the Cybils shortlists. I'm a round two judge in the graphic novels category this year, and I can hardly wait to find out what I'll be reading between Jan 1 and Feb 14. Especially because I know that the round one judges have already made their picks. At least, when I've been on round one we've always finished up before Christmas. The shortlist announcement will be on the Cybils homepage, as of New Years, and always has loads of good books for kids of all ages.

Did you get books? Did you give books? Did you have a meaningful holiday experience that has nothing to do with books? Comment, below. 
*psssh* "This is your captain speaking. A friendly reminder that shopping through links in this post generates affiliate income for the book blogger/fashion blogger/airplane captain. Please remain seated until the seatbelt sign above you turns off."  

Chapter Books for an 8 Year Old Boy: 10 exciting series to keep him reading

My friend Jessica contacted me on Facebook to ask for some recommendations for her son. You guys, I haven't seen her kids since they were tiny! How fun.

Jessica says her son is about middle-of-the-pack for reading with his class, and she asked especially that I give her recommendations for traditional chapter books, rather than graphic novels. I love graphic novels, but ok, I'll rein myself in.

My son Benjamin, who is seven years old and an advanced reader, is informing a lot of my recommendations in this post. Book cover images will link you over to Amazon, and if you make purchases through my links I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

10 exciting chapter book series

The Secrets of Droon by Tony Abbott
This is series that my 7 year-old son, who is an advanced reader, really enjoys. He gets them from his teacher's classroom library. So, admittedly, I haven't read any of the The Secrets of Droon. But from what I've seen they look fun and imaginative and about the same length as Magic Tree House books.

The Bailey School Kids by Debbie Dudley and Marcia Thronton Jones
When Benjamin started bringing these home, it took me back to my school days. I loved these books! There is a whole series of them, including Ghosts Don't Eat Potato Chips and Angels Don't Know Karate and so forth. In each one there is something mysterious about the adults at the Bailey School and definite evidence for fun supernatural shenanigans.

Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol, narrated by Greg Steinbruner
We listened to some of these on audio recently and they were super fun to experience together. We would pause the audio when prompted and try to work out the solutions. I just found one on the library discard shelf the other day, and Benjamin was so into it that he didn't want to put it down when we got in the car. They also encourage him to re-read: he was telling me he wanted to read the case again before he checked the solution, to see if he could work out the answer for himself. Hooray for critical thinking!

Wayside School by Louis Sachar
These aren't new but they're still hilarious! The Wayside School has many fun characters and zany problems. I think these are a must for an eight-year-old! The humor is silly but not crass, the writing is excellent and the characters are well developed. A modern classic.

Alvin Ho by Lenore Look, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
These are new and they're hilarious! Alvin is a first-grader, but rest assured that kids of all ages and adults are amused by the antics of this adorable Asian-American. He has "so-so performance anxiety disorder" and can't actually speak at school, or when he gets in too deep in other situations. This lends to funny moments, poignant moments, and I think it builds empathy for kids who suffer from anxiety. I know it did for me.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Classic! Benjamin prefers to read these in graphic novel format, and Levi loves the one we have on audiobook. I think he's listened to it upwards of 10 times. My husband Jacob read these in his own childhood. If you haven't tried these yet, give them a shot.

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
I've read some of the books in this series, and we've listened to some on audio as a family. The audiobooks are done by a full cast. We all loved them . . .except for one of the narrators, sigh. So good though! I definitely recommend the books. Dragons and wizards and enchanted swords aplenty.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Every library is gonna have these and they're worth the read. If he doesn't like the first one, leave it at that, but if he does, there are 12 more!

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
I admit that I haven't read this series myself, yet. But I do plan on it! I've heard so, so much good about them. And with the movies out, they're back on the radar of kids and teachers, too. 

Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
This book was fun and funny and "Hello, Star Wars you are so popular right now!" I liked this one well enough that I would totally read it aloud to my kids. It is a six book series.

Ok Jess, I know that you said you're NOT looking for graphic novels, but I just had to put a few of them on this post.


I know for a fact that he has already read the Jedi Academy series, but I just had to stick that one on here, in case others haven't heard of it. Also, our family favorite, Mameshiba. They're perfect for the eight year old (and they make me and Jacob laugh, too!) And the graphic novel adaptations of L. Frank Baum's classic Wizard of Oz books that Eric Shanower adapted and Skottie Young drew. Those are so good! I bet the original Oz books would be a big hit with an eight year old as well.

What do you think? What would you add to this list?

To Kill a Mockingbird: My Thoughts Then and Now

I'm now on chapter 28 (out of 31) of To Kill a Mockingbird. Getting close to the end. Wow, this book is still amazingly good, and so much different than I remember it being. But, to be fair, I didn't remember much about it. (More about why I'm re-reading it in this post.)

Going into reading To Kill a Mockingbird the first time, I thought the book was all about Boo Radley. I had heard a lot about Boo Radley from my classmates, I guess? I remember thinking, "I'd better read To Kill a Mockingbird before I graduate from high school, or I'll be the only person in the country who hasn't." I think I chose it for a free-choice reading assignment.

Well, it wasn't all about Boo Radley. I was kind of confused by that, and kept waiting for more to happen with Boo. Eventually I figured out the book was really about the trial of Tom Robinson. At least, it was for me. A book about a girl named Scout and her dad named Atticus and the trial of Tom Robinson.

Second time through, though, and I'm changing my stance. Since I already remembered that the book's not all about becoming friends with Boo Radley, and since I already knew the outcome of the trial (though I had forgotten the second outcome we see with Tom), I've been able to read the book more slowly and really savor it.

It's definitely a book about Scout, growing up. I mean, obviously, right? But, I dunno, that's not what I would have said before, because that's not what stuck in my brain last time.

This time I'm totally waiting to see how Jem breaks his arm. That's the first line of the book, right? That's ostensibly what the book is all about: Scout explaining how Jem broke his arm. We'll see what happens, because his arm is still whole at this point.

This time I'm much more attuned to all the after-the-trial stuff. Last time, I guess I thought everything after the trial was denouement. I'm not so sure this time. I'm fascinated by the break in at Judge Taylor's house, Link Deas's standing beside his cook. Scout's moment at the missionary circle, practicing "being a lady" despite the news she just heard.

Plus, what's going to happen with her and Dill? Probably nothing conclusive...I mean, nothing more conclusive than them either remaining affianced or splitting up...but I remember nothing about this. And I wonder (hope) there will be more about him in Go Set a Watchman.

Interesting fact: My kids asked me why the book was called To Kill a Mockingbird and I actually knew what to say! I'll tell you what I told them. It's called To Kill a Mockingbird because it's a book about making good choices. Killing a mockingbird would be a bad choice.

Ashlee chimed in on Facebook with the following:
Alysa!!!! I love you. Thank you for doing this! And I told you... SOOOOO good. I'm glad you are enjoying it. If you didn't I'd feel bad. Man. I so wish you could come over and talk about it. Atticus is amazing and obviously my favorite, but there are so many LAYERS to the book and themes that get taught in subtle ways along side the obvious ones. Ahhhh! So good! I really hope the sequel is worth it, but I'm super grateful you are making sure first! Is it making you laugh too? It's such a serious book. We always talk about the heavy stuff, we never talk about how funny it is!
Yes! It is making me laugh. I've totally chuckled out loud. Also smiled, also felt heartwarmed and disgusted and conflicted and exultant and creeped out and nervous and relieved. No wonder it won the Pulitzer prize, right?

And no wonder there are so many t-shirts. I have just spent too  much time looking at all the t-shirts. :) Which one is your fave? I kid of like this one the best.
Ok, that's enough of that. Time to go read some more! And clean my house! 

Did you have to read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school?
p.s. Images in this post are affiliate links. Except my graduation picture,obviously. If you make a purchase through my affiliate links I earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. I'm required by law to tell you this, even though you already know it. Atticus would want us to comply with the law, wouldn't he?

To Kill a Mockingbird: rereading by special assignment

Lots of people I know like To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. But My friend Ashlee Burton is the biggest fan of the book that I know. So, when I heard that there was a sequel coming out, I brought it to her attention.

But you know how it is: when you love a book so dearly that you reread it regularly and consider naming your children after it and such, and then, out of the blue, a sequel is announced. . . . And then you find out that there are some dubious circumstances surrounding the release of this unexpected sequel (namely, Harper Lee's older sister, who was her lawyer and chief privacy protector, passed away not long before the announcement). Well, considering all this, Ashlee said to me, "I just want you to read the sequel for me, then tell me if I should read it."

I was happy to oblige. But I thought I'd better start with a reread of To Kill a Mockingbird, before I went on to Go Set a Watchman. I think that if I read TKAM right before, I'll stand a better chance of experiencing the sequel in the way that Ashlee would. Whereas I've only read it once before, Ashlee has read it many times.

So. Yesterday I started the reread. Right now I'm on Chapter 14.  Aunt Alexandra has thoroughly invaded the house and Dill has just showed up unexpectedly. My thoughts thus far:

1. This book is so good. Soooo goood. I mean, I remember it being good. But it's soo goood. 

2. It's easier for me to pay attention to all the little awesome things, since this is my second time through and I kind of remember how things turn out. Not much, I mean, I had forgotten that Jem and Dill and Aunt Alexandra even existed, but still I remembered the plot in a rough way. 

3. I'm paying special attention to Atticus, and he's just great, isn't he? Ashlee asked me to look particuarly at Atticus in Go Set a Watchman -- if the sequel changes his character or vilifies him or anything she doesn't want to read it.  

Ok, I'll post again when I can. If you've read Go Set a Watchman, don't tell me what happens! Because although I heard a lot about it before publication, I've managed to avoid all reviews of it, so as not to taint my perspective in any way. 

Tell me though, if you could have someone else read a book on your behalf, which one would you pick?
Marie, myself, and Ashlee, at the baby shower for Jubilee.

Christmas Book Giveaway!

Hey everybody! How's it going? The 2015 Holiday Recommendations post is still going strong, so feel free to request more recommendations, if you need them. I'm having a lot of fun with these. We have ages 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13, 15, and adult covered! Anybody have a 7, 12, or 14 year old in their life?!? Haha. You can totally repeat ages by the way, I'm just going for a straight, or a royal flush or something.

As for today, I have a Christmas book giveaway!

This book looks like a great one to put under the tree. Here's the trailer for it:

What do you think? It looks like something I could use to discuss not only Christmas, but also forgiving others, asking for forgiveness, and creativity. I wouldn't be surprised if the book inspired my boys (ages 5 and 7) to make their own unusual nativities.

If you want to win this book, sign up for my newsletter! I'll be honest and say that at this point I pretty much only use the newsletter to let subscribers know about giveaways, and to then be able to get in touch with them easily to give out the prizes. I do reserve the right, however, to send awesome emails that don't have giveaways in them . . . just in case. And of course you're welcome to unsubscribe anytime being on my email list is no longer useful to you.

If you're already signed up, just reply to the email, and I'll put your name in the hat. ;)

You should get a  confirmation email from me via MailChimp. Confirm your subscription and you know you are entered.

This giveaway will end on Sunday, December 13, 2015. Click here to read the Everead Giveaway Policy.

Merry Christmas!

The 2015 Holiday Recommendations Post!

This is the post in which I will be answering your book recommendation questions this holiday season. I had fun with this last year, so here we go again! Images will link to the Amazon page for each book, and if you shop through these links I earn a small commission.

Got my Santa glasses on. I'm ready!
Books for a six-year-old girl:Lessa is looking for a 6 year old girl who reads at a higher level (up to 4th grade comfortably) and says that she doesn't want anything with crude  humor.

"Has she read Shannon Hale's books yet?" I asked.
"No, but that's a fantastic idea!!" Lessa replied.
Ok, All set then. :D I highly recommend The Goose Girl, and it's companion books. The Newbery Honor went to Princess Academy, and it now has some really good sequels.

And just as a bonus, I'm going to recommend Jessica Day George in that same vein as well. Good clean books marketed to the 8-12 crowd which feature excellent writing. I enjoyed Dragon Slippers.

Book for a four-year-old girl:
I have yet to meet a four-year-old who didn't smile while reading Bedtime for Mommy by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. It's so great that I haven't got tired of it yet, and I don't even know how many times I've read it. Bonus points for being illustrated by my favorite living illustrator, as well!

Book for a two-year-old girl:
I  have a two-year-old girl myself, so I could list her favorites for a long time! If you need more ideas on this one, just let me know. For now I'll just say that she and I both love the seasonally appropriate book Let It Snow by Maryann Cocoa-Leffler. It talks about the good parts and bad parts of winter weather, and ends with the transition to spring. Lovely book.

Books for a nine-year-old girl:specifically "a 9 year old girl who enjoys reading, and is interested in animals and the environment"
Is is just me, or is age nine the perfect time to gift a girl The Voyage of the Bassett? Just sayin', in case you hadn't already thought of that one. It was probably my favorite book at your house. 

If you were looking for something fresh, I submit Wildfire Run by Dee Garrettson. It follows a boy (the son of the POTUS, actually) and a girl (a friend of his) as they get trapped by a wildfire. Will they make it out!? Ok, but will her kitten also make it out?!?! I really liked this one, and like to recommend it to parents whose kids want to read The Hunger Games a little too early. It's got suspense, action, emotion, even a little bit of politics, but it's man vs. nature instead of man vs. man. And it's a standalone. It's got animals. It's got the environment, and it's age appropriate. Boom.

Books for a 13 year old boy:specifically "a 13 year old boy who is not a big reader at all, but loves minecraft and sci-fi."
I'm going to recommend the work of Dave Roman here. I've thoroughly enjoyed his Astronaut Academy series, and I plan to read TeenBoat soon. I mean, the tagline alone! "The angst of been a teen...the thrill of being a boat!"

The Astronaut Academy series, which has two books at the moment, is hilarious. I think it's sci-fi, because we could totally recreate dinosaurs in the future and then ride them in school for sport, right? That's only a small portion of the wacky humor you'll get from these books. I had an 11-year-old at my house today, asking if I had any more of these. Obviously I enjoyed them, in my 20's, so I'm thinking a 13-year-old gamer is a good fit. I just recommended these to a fan of Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.

Give me a recommendation for my sisters, ages 15 and 13... Angela wrote: I'd love to hear your recommendations for my sisters 15yo, plays harp and is into fantasy; 13yo, plays bagpipes and is into everything Scottish.

Ok, Angela, I knew in a heartbeat that I had to recommend Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching books for your sister who plays the bagpipes. The first one is The Wee Free Men. I first experienced this book on audio and that's the way I always recommend it. The narrator is sooooo goood and just does accents wonderfully and now I want to go listen to all of them again. I hope she loves them. If she's already read them, let me know, and I'll think up something else. If not, get on this, STAT.

As for a fifteen-year-old girl who plays the harp and is into fantasy... well, I've picked a book that is not fantasy. Maybe because fantasy is such a broad genre, I didn't feel ready to recommend a fantasy title. However, I have never met a fantasy fan who did not love the work of P.G. Wodehouse. Though his Jeeves books are "realistic fiction" they have all the makings of a good fantasy novel: world-building, new vocab words, high stakes, humor. I recommend Right Ho, Jeeves as a great place to start. Audio is also fantastic on this one, if you're so inclined.  

This just in from Kym...
Ok, I'm in need of a few more book recommendations. Kjerstin just turned 8 and does not like things like fancy nancy at all, which is ironic in many ways. She liked the how to train your dragon books and Harry potter, but around book 4 she burned out. Little Brian is 5 and likes to read but he is still growing in his reading. He loves to learn, like science and those type of books more than fun stories, but a lot of the words are a bit complicated for him to read on his own, so I'm looking for some books to keep him interested in reading. And then some to read to Brandon the 3 year old. He likes trains and the usual.
Book for an eight-year-old girl:

For a girl who doesn't embrace the girly, and who was interested in Harry Potter up through book 4, I'd recommend The Mysterious Benedict Society books. Kate is my favorite character, and Constance is pretty awesome, too. Like Harry Potter, these books have a clear villain, a group of kids who are friends that team up against him, and they're full of ingenuity. I'd categorize The Mysterious Benedict Society as sci-fi more than fantasy. Bonus: If you haven't read them yet Kym, I think you'd like them as well. You could do a read-aloud. :)

Book for a five-year-old boy:

Ok. So I just discovered non-fiction picture book author Ruth Heller, thanks to my friend Kate. I think her books might be exactly what Little Brian is looking for. I've only read two of her titles, Chickens Aren't the Only Ones (about oviparous animals) and The Reason for a Flower (about botany). But when I got this from my library, I noticed that Ruth Heller is prolific. I'm hopeful that her books are just what you're looking for.

Book for a three-year-old boy: You say little Brandon likes trains? Then I have to mention my personal favorite train book for the preschool crowd: Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton. I love it! Young Benjamin reviewed it, here.

Alysa, give me a recommendation for a three-year-old girl. Jen said, "the book doesn't have to be gender specific, and she's not reading yet but I want the book to grow with her."

I asked Jen, "Does she have younger siblings?" Because they're making lots of great longer board books these days for kids. A three-year-old could probably handle a paper book just fine, but if you want the book to last a long time, and if she's got younger siblings, a board book might be the way to go. ---> Turns out, she's got a baby brother. :)

I recommend the adorable Time for a Hug by Phillis Gershator. It came in our most recent Bookroo box (I've written more about Bookroo here), and Levi (age 5) and Jubilee (age 2) both loved it. More importantly? I loved it. The illustrations are enchanting, and the rhyme scheme is more complex than the typical board book. So fresh! The book follows a mother rabbit and her preschooler bunny through their day together.

I think it would be a particularly good book for a beginning reader for two reasons. 1) Levi is a beginning reader and he was reading it in no time at all. Likely due to 2) It rhymes and most of the rhyming words can be inferred from the illustrations. For example, "Eleven, twelve, the raindrops fly, / What shall we do? Let's bake a pie!" is accompanied by a big picture of the two bunnies making a pie. Good readers use pictures to glean information that supports their reading of the text and in the very first stages of reading, that means associating the letters p-i-e with a picture of a pie. Enjoy!

"Alysa, I have two boys who always need new books for Christmas."
Thank you for asking for this post, Debra! You're fantastic and so are your boys. Ok. So. Fantastic books for you guys. Have I told you about author Doug TenNapel yet? I just read another book by him, and it's as solid as all the others! I'm really becoming a fan. Starting to trust this author in a major way. It's not every author I would just buy a book by them without having read or heard anything about it, but I think Doug TenNapel may be one of those authors for me now.

I started with Ghostopolis, which has a great "dark adventure" feel to it, and turns out to have a moving Christian message at the end of it. I know you are a Christian family, and I bet you guys would like this one. It's solid storytelling, and the religion isn't preachy, but is totally integral to the story. I gave it to my brother for Christmas when he was about Kolt's age, I think.

I went on to read Bad Island, and that one also had good family values. Also giant robots. It's been a while since I read it, but I remember that much.

And just the other day I checked Cardboard out of my local library. I was a little worried, because, you know, scary eyes on the cover. Would it live up to the other two? Yes. It sure did. It was about a boy and his dad, celebrating the boy's birthday by making something out of cardboard. Magic cardboard. Things get really, really crazy, but it has a happy ending and I give it two thumbs up.
Anyway, I should probably read more of Doug TenNapel's stuff, because he's got 5 stars from me on all three of his books that I've read.

Also have I told you about Mameshiba? I definitely recommend Mameshiba. They're silly and smart and . . . mostly just silly. I bought the third one for Levi for his birthday. I had to help him read it, but I didn't mind. ;) I think both your boys would enjoy those. Each book contains several short stories, and you don't really need to read them in order. I do recommend watching the commercials though. If the commercials make you chuckle, the books will make you laugh. Where the commercials show humans, the books are all bean dog.

Alysa, give me recommendations for my daughters who are 8 and 10 years old... "Okay, Gwen (10) and Cecily (8). Gwen just read Wee Free Men, so I was thinking of Hat Full of Sky for her, and The Girl Who Circumnavigated for Cecily (too old?). But I also kind of would like to take it away from fantasy for a while, simply because they read it so often electively--broaden their tastes. I was thinking the Shipwreck at the Bottom of the Earth, but for whom? Any other ideas?"

Aislin, I agree that Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World is a fantastic choice. I'd give it to Gwen, just because she's older and it does have quite a bit of meat to it. One of the great things about it is that it doesn't pander. Anyway, I thought of few more non-fiction titles I recommend whole-heartedly, for either of them.

Anubis Speaks:A Guide to the Afterlife by the Egytian God of the Dead by Vicki Alvear Schecter -- Journey through the Duat, learning about ancient Egyptian rituals and beliefs surrounding death. Very engaging, and great to pair with The Kane Chronicles, I'm sure (though I only read the first one, myself).

Look Up! Bird-watching in Your Own Backyard -- I don't know if either of your girls are into bird-watching; I never thought much about it until I read this book and I find myself SO much more interested now. I mean, I still think about this book regularly, and I read it two years ago. I checked it out from the library last year and Levi *loved* it. It's just super engaging, even if bird-watching isn't your thing. You could pair it with some of the supplies suggested in the book (a field guide, blank notebook, colored pencils etc).
*Note: more info about both Anubis and Look Up at this Cybils page.

Since you brought up Shipwreck, I thought of Children of the Dust Bowl. Fantastic book, similar in design. Plenty of photos, plenty of meaty text. Since they're a little young for Steinbeck, it would be great paired with The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan, a wordless graphic novel which won many awards.

However my personal favorite of Matt Phelan's books is Around the World. It tells the true stories of three people first around the world: I assume you know Nellie Bly, but also the first to sail around the world solo and the man to first bicycle around the world. You should probably definitely own this book, whether or not you buy it this Christmas.

Also definitely look into Bad Machinery, cuz your family would love it.

Alysa, give me a recommendation for my husband. "Ok, so Brian has pretty much read all the classics from War and Peace Frankenstein.  He loves Terry Pratchett and Brandon Sanderson.  He also loved things like Harry Potter of course or historical books, he read a 32 volume set on the civil war.  I really would love to get him some books that he hasn't read yet, but it is a bit difficult to find something he hasn't read yet since he reads several books a week."

Challenge accepted, Kym! If he has read all three of these, let me know and I'll whip out some more!
Jacob suggested The Information by James Gleick. It is about information theory, and the people who developed it. Jacob loves classics, Pratchett, Sanderson, etc. and thought that if Brian likes non-fic as well this one would be an excellent choice. "It was really fascinating to read about the development of the theory that makes all of our computers go," he said.

I thought of Feynman by Ottaviani and Myrick. It's a graphic novel biography of the man. Brian would probably have it read in a single sitting because graphic novels go fast, but that's ok. It stands up to re-reads. I reviewed it in this post

So I haven't read this one, but I was kind of thinking of getting it for Jacob for Christmas. I got the recommendation for this one from Mike, when he took over his wife's blog, Sunlit Pages for a little while. He says "This is a historical account of the life and adventures of Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, the father of Alexandre Dumas.  It can be summed up in three syllables:  A-MA-ZING!" Here's his full post.  

Alysa give me a recommendation for my 4-year-old boy "Oliver (4) loves superhero joe. I think it's partially the format (sort of like a comic book). Is there something similar for a beginning reader?"
YES! Tanya there definitely is. The Elephant and Piggie books come to mind right off the bat. I feel like you probably already know these books well. But I had to mention them in case you didn't. We're looking for something with panels, though, right? E&P have dialog bubbles, but no panels.

My top recommendation for easy-reader graphic novel is Bean Dog and Nugget by Cherise Mericle Harper. I've only read book one, but that's just because I didn't notice that book 2 had come out. Take a look at the inside of the book on Amazon. It's silly and simple and my boys *loved* it when we checked it out from the library a couple years ago. Thanks for reminding me of it! Parental warning, there is a pair of undies shown in the book! Haha, don't worry though. I found the sequence in good taste and (very) age appropriate.

Owly is also well-loved, though my boys never got into it. It's wordless, and adorable, and sometimes there are speech bubbles, but with pictures in them? I don't know though. it might have been too slow paced for me. I got kind of bored when I tried to read Owly. Depends on if Oliver is the type to search a picture for all its details or not. Definitely look into Owly though.

And a couple quick ones that you can enjoy reading to Oliver (goodness knows I've read these ones SO many times to my boys):

Bird and Squirrel (Levi particularly loved book two, Bird and Squirrel on Ice, when he was 4)
Nursery Rhyme comics (Just a super duper excellent book to have anyway. I really love it. My review.)
The 3-2-3 Detective Agency - this one reminds me most of Superhero Joe in design. Benjamin made us read it over and over to him when he was 4 and 5.

Alysa, give me a recommendation for my husband."I would love to buy him a good paperback series for Christmas. He just finished Brandon Mull's Beyonders. Among his favorites are the Black Cauldron and Eragon series. What do you think?"

I think that if he hasn't read the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud yet, that's the one. I would recommend Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz series, but the last book isn't out yet. So Bartimaeus it is! I admit that I haven't read Beyonders and have only started the other two series you listed as his favorites. But I also admit that I haven't read the Bartimaeus books. Jacob has, and he insisted we buy them at the library book sale and move them twice across the country. I read the graphic novel adaptation of the first one and was like "Hey, these seem good, actually!" So, I think it's definitely worth a shot to get him those three.

You're next! Who do you want a recommendation for? This post will be updated with new recommendations throughout the holiday season. *sparkle sparkle* so fancy. 

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