A book may not zip when it moves, bop when it stops or whir when it stands still, like the whatsit in Tom Paxton's song The Marvelous Toy, but it can be just as wondrous.
Every year, as I prepare this list, I am amazed by how many wonderful books came out that year, and it's always hard to pick favorites. I pile up the books I'm especially fond of, then send each through a filter of sorts in my head.
I try to imagine myself as a child, picking each one up for the first time and reading it through, and I ask myself whether, like a marvelous toy, it could become my heart's delight, the kind of book I'd never forget.
In some cases, a book sneaks up on me and only after letting it sit do I realize how much I loved reading it, and in other cases, it's like the marvelous toy in the song and it pops the first time I read it.
This year I don't include books I reviewed earlier in the year, simply because it would be too many for one list, but I am just as fond as all of those, and would encourage you, if you haven't read earlier reviews, to see what you think.
Books such as Laura Amy Schlitz's The Night Fairy, Ingrid Law's Scumble and Rosemary Wells's On the Blue Comet were a dream to read, and I couldn't put down The Sable Quean, the 21st book in the Brian Jacques's epic series.
There are also many fall novels that I haven't yet had a chance to read, but that I'm expecting to be fantastic too, and I will be spending cozy evenings this holiday reading as many I can after our boys are tucked in their beds.
These are just a few of those certain gems and I hope you'll seek them out too: Factotum (the final book of the Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy), Behemoth (the second book in Scott Westerfield's steampunk trilogy) and Ultimate Magic (the last book in T.A. Barron's Merlin's Dragon trilogy).
This year, in my desire to share a lot of the little things I loved about each book on the list, I wrote more lengthy summaries, so instead of lists of 10 books each, I've showcased some books on their own and created smaller lists for others.
In total, there are 40 categories, 64 books. Skip around, click what looks good or read a bit now and more later. Though some are holiday specific, most make great gifts all-year.
I hope you enjoy scrolling down, and along the way find a perfect book to give. One that zips, bops and whirs through your children's imagination -- and maybe even finds itself in a box some day, being pulled out by a new generation of little hands.