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I found a variety of interesting books that would make great holiday presents.
Learn to play the guitar with "Guitar World Presents the Best Instruction Book Ever!" This oversize book has 300 how-to photos, lessons and tips and includes a bonus DVD with video examples for every lesson in the book. The editors of Guitar World magazine will turn readers into musicians, beginning with the first chords and scales and moving on to advanced tricks and techniques for playing blues, classic rock, country and heavy metal songs. It includes full-color photographs and diagrams. Plus, there's advice from guitar greats such as Eric Clapton, Brian May, David Gilmour, Billy Gibbons and B.B. King. It's a stunner!
Hardcover, 182 pages, 9.9 x 9.9 inches, $29.95.
"Leave Your Sleep" is such a beautiful book for kids. Seriously. This collection of classic children's poems includes work by poets Jack Prelutsky, Ogden Nash, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edward Lear and more. Not only are they accompanied by absolutely gorgeous color illustrations by Barbara McClintock, but they are set to music by Natalie Merchant, and a CD of the songs is included with the book. Wow! A nice addition is photographs of the poets, which I've never before seen in a poetry collection. I must admit, it adds quite a bit to a poem to see who wrote it.
Hardcover, 48 pages, 8.8 x 11.25 inches, $24.99.
This year's spectacular pop-up book is "Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-up Adventure" by Matthew Reinhart. Its novelty features include pop-ups (both small and HUGE), a working light saber and pull tabs that explore the characters, beasts, stories, vehicles, droids, planets and more in the three "Star Wars" prequel movies and "The Clone Wars."
Hardcover, 8.5 x 10.4 inches, $36.99, or I'm sure you'll want the $300 limited edition, which comes signed and numbered in a special slipcase.
"TIME for Kids: That's Strange but True!" has astonishing facts and records about the most bizarre and unbelievable things the world has to offer. Topics include bathtub races and other strange sports, quests for lost worlds, bionic pets, plants that play dead, upside-down houses, bodacious stunts and body feats, flying cars, cool robots, weird superstitions and more. There's some weird science and really strange stuff in here, like a spying device disguised as a hummingbird and an alarm clock that runs away and hides. Just what every kid wants!
Color and B&W photos and illustrations. Hardcover, 176 pages, 9.25 x 11.125 inches, $19.95.
Don't forget to pick up your copy of the just-published "The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2013." Not only does it have the 2012 election results, but it also covers the year in sports, including the London Olympics, top news topics, and historic, geopolitical, geographic, weather, entertainment and other information, as well as lists, lists, lists. It also has sections of color photos and maps, along with color flags of all the countries of the world. There's never a dull moment perusing the World Almanac.
Paperback, 1,008 pages, $12.99. For a closer look, visit www.worldalmanac.com.
If you know a farmer, this would be a great gift: "Barnyard Confidential: An A to Z Reader of Life Lessons, Tall Tales, and Country Wisdom." This is presented as a sort of encyclopedia of farm knowledge. Its aim is demystifying such riddles as the proper way to enjoy sitting on a porch, tips for successful gopher hunting, and methods for conquering your pressure cooker. It has excerpts from "The ABC's of Farming" and many other publications. For example, under "Cyclone," it reprints the scene where Dorothy is swept up in the cyclone from "The Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum; under "Tractor Restoration," there's an essay by Roger Welsch. It also has such gems as a Christmas story by Ben Logan and a story about hunting from E.B. White. You don't have to be a farmer to enjoy the humor in this respectful homage to agricultural workers in America.
B&W photos and illustrations. Hardcover, 240 pages, $21.99.
"Records of North American Whitetail Deer" will inspire hunters to go back to the woods and try again. This fifth edition from Boone and Crockett is the most complete book of trophy records and information on America's favorite big-game species. It contains detailed tabular listings of 12,254 whitetail trophies. Each entry includes details of interest to hunters, wildlife managers and conservationists. Also included are photos of standout specimens plus chapters written by top authorities on whitetails, with insights on deer breeding behavior, emerging technology and its effects on conservation, new deer management strategies and more.
Hardcover, 384 pages, 8 x 10 inches, $34.95, 888-840-4868, www.boone-crockett.org.
"The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit" by Emma Thompson, with watercolor illustrations by Eleanor Taylor, was inspired by the original Peter Rabbit tales by Beatrix Potter. The mischievous bunny is back, wearing yet another new blue jacket. Peter's bored and moping about having nothing to do, so he squeezes under the gate in Mr. McGregor's garden, intending to steal some lettuce. He finds a picnic basket smelling of onions, so he climbs in. Finding sandwiches, he eats them and proceeds to fall asleep, but awakes to feel the basket joggling in the back of a cart on the open road and finds himself in an adventure in Scotland. It comes with a CD of the author reading the story. For ages 5 and up, but come on -- who doesn't like a fun little Peter Rabbit story?
Hardcover, 64 pages, 8.5 x 11 inches, $20.
In 1942, Gertrude Chandler Warner wrote a little book titled "The Boxcar Children," featuring the orphaned Alden children, Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny. It was so beloved that readers demanded more of the adventures of the resourceful children. Warner went on to write a total of 19 books in what would become the Boxcar Children Mysteries, and the series continued after her death, with more than 100 titles in all.
Now, Patricia MacLachlan, winner of the Newbery Medal for "Sarah, Plain and Tall," has written a prequel to the original book. What was their life like before they became the Boxcar Children? How did they become orphans? In "The Boxcar Children Beginning: The Aldens of Fair Meadow Farm," we meet not only the children, but their warm and loving parents. Times are hard, but their parents take in another family stranded in their car during a blizzard. The book also reprints the beginning of the original book, in which the newly orphaned children are wandering the countryside, trying to find food and a safe place to stay. If you and your kids haven't experienced these wonderful, heart-warming books, do yourself a favor and try them. I suggest you get the original as well as this one, so little readers have a resolution of the upset of the Alden children's lives after they become orphans.
Hardcover, 144 pages, $16.99.
Copyright 2012 by Mary Louise Ruehr.