Well, December is almost upon us. But before you scream, “Dear Crossdressing Fish on a Motorcycle!” and panic about presents, make yourself a cuppa, and sit yourself down with the Wordgardener for a wee bit of advice about book-giving in the festive season.
Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith

For Grandmothers and Alexander McCall Smith fans: La’s Orchestra Saves the World

          This one’s a gentle, occasionally humorous book detailing the minutae of  La’s move and subsequent settlement in a little cottage house in Surrey. My only quibble is that there are a few things unresolved, and the ending is a bit hasty, but it’s otherwise lovely. Set during World War II, there’s a little romance, a little music, a little gardening, small doses of mysterious trepidation, and much simplicity. It’s a nice little hardback in pale blue with a swallow (I love the jacket design) so it will sit pretty on your (or your grandmother’s) bookshelf.  ($34.95 isbn:9781846970924)

 

Mary Ann Schaffer (Allen and Unwin)

Mary Ann Schaffer (Allen and Unwin)

For Mums, cousin Janets, Aunties, and the entire population of the earth: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Schaffer.

            This is another one set around World War II, and is also very gentle. It’s all written in letters, (each one by our heroine is signed off, Love, Juliet Ashton {Miss}) which I thought would grow tedious, but is amusing, sweet and novel the whole way through the book. Juliet Ashton, a columnist during the war, finds herself at a loose end when peace is declared. She is trying to find something to write about, and something to feel passionate about, when she recieves a letter from a man on the island of Guernsey who has an old book of hers with her name and address written on the inside. Juliet finds herself intrigued by the story Dawsey tells of the literary society formed during the occupation of Guernsey. Also a lovely romance, some amusing herbal escapades, and the kind of hope that can only be conveyed through tragedy. Glorious, glorious, glorious. Buy it for yourself for Christmas! Don’t expect a follow up though, as poor Schaffer didn’t live to see her book published. Hope through tragedy, people. ($29.95 isbn:9781741751680)

 

Alexie Sherman (Random House)

Alexie Sherman (Random House)

For teens: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Alexie Sherman

                  This is a brilliant and humorous evocation of what it feels like to be a teenager. Except that Junior has to deal with living on a reservation, having a soft (and easily damaged) skull, and being the smartest kid to have come out of a reservation school. When Junior makes the decision to leave the reservation every day to attend the white school in the town nearby, he has to deal with bullying from his own people as well as the white kids at school. He forges forward, though with his own special brand of humour, cartooning, smarts and nerdy charm. At turns tragic and hilarious, Part-time Indian is an enjoyable and fast-paced read. It does contain a lot of swearing, though, as it’s quite realistic. This one’s already winning awards, and quite deservedly too! ($19.95 isbn:9781842708446)

Isobelle Carmody (Penguin Group Australia)

Isobelle Carmody (Penguin Group Australia)

For the kids: A Riddle of Green: The Legend of Little Fur by Isobelle Carmody

             This is the fourth in the series of velvet covered books. These books have an environmental message, but aren’t didactic. Little Fur is a half troll, half elf healer, whose attachment to the earth-magic has lead her into many adventures. She has a band of animal friends, but this series isn’t sentimental. The characters are damaged (Sorrow the fox has no self esteem having been brought up in a science laboratory and escaped into the wild), and tragic, but the endings are always redeeming. In this adventure, Little Fur learns about where she came from, and where the future of the trolls lies. These books are to be read in order from 1. ‘Little Fur, The Legend Begins’, 2. ‘A Fox Called Sorrow,’ 3.’A Mystery of Wolves’. I highly recommend them, and the velvety covers are lush and make them very gift-worthy. They are a bit reminiscent of ‘The Dark Crystal’ movie to me… (Series retails at $24.95 isbn of Riddle of Green: 9780670040957)

I hope this helps you all out with your Christmas shopping!

Cheers bookworms,

The Wordgardener

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