n a recent trip to another City of Literature — Reykjavik, Iceland — I learned about their Jolabokafloo or “Yule Book Flood.” Every year, only in the months leading up to Christmas, Iceland’s books are published and quickly bought as gifts to be read specifically on Christmas Eve, though any other cold winter night works just as well. If, like me, you want to get in the Jolabokafloo spirit this year, here are some great new books to give to the children in your life.
For those who love picture books, take a stroll through the seasons with these stories. Give the wordless wonder of the magical forest in “Little Fox in the Forest” by Stephanie Graegin. Explore a neighborhood at dusk with a boy and his dog in the beautiful “Windows” by Julia Denos. Then laugh together as you read “The 12 Days of Christmas” in a whole new light as Greg Pizzoli shows who has to take care of all those birds and people.
Newly independent readers will enjoy settling down to read one of these options. Kids who love animal stories and mysteries will be sure to love the owl detectives in “Wallace and Grace” by Heather Alexander. “Captain Pug” by Laura James is just right for dog lovers with a silly streak. Magic and horses combine to create the winning series “Tales of Sasha” by Alexa Pearl.
Even the most screen hungry tween will put down the device long enough to read these titles. For the comics obsessed, try the sci-fi fantasy hybrid “One Trick Pony” by Nathan Hale. For more in-depth fantasy, consider the world of dragons and sorcery in “The Wearle” by Chris D’Lacey. For those who like funny growing up stories with some romance, give “Well, That was Awkward” by Rachel Vail. Readers who like action and a bit of history will enjoy “Refugee” by Alan Gratz. My favorite book of the year is somewhere between historical fiction and adventure, the wonderful “Beyond the Bright Sea” by Lauren Wolk.
Each title is available at the library to try before you buy, and you can always ask a librarian for even more recommendations to help create your own Jolabokafloo.
l Morgan Reeves is children’s librarian at the Iowa City Public Library.