Thursday, December 10, 2009

'Tis the season to ... PANIC!

I’m starting to panic.

I always do this, every single year, so you’d think I would have learned and changed my ways by now, but nope. Sigh.

I’m talking about Christmas shopping, and how late I leave it. I’ve bought a grand total of ZERO gifts so far. Crazy of me, since I now have the kids home on holidays and can’t go shopping unless I rustle up a sitter. And double crazy because I have fourteen kids to buy for - my three, plus five nephews and nieces and six friends’ offspring. Gah! Lucky all the adults in my family agreed to nix the gift buying for each other a long while back, or I would be sooo dead (not to mention broke!)

So I sat down last night and began to plan my attack. I locked and loaded my mum to do baby-sitting duty all day today (what a saint!), then racked my brains for gifts - and finally decided I’m going to do my bit for the industry and buy them books. I've scanned through a few catalogues and on-line book stores and worked up a bit of a list - it just might give you some ideas if you’re looking for kids’ books yourself. And please, any suggestions for me will be greatly appreciated!

So, to The List ...

Firstly, for my brood:

GAMERS QUEST by George Ivanoff, and GONE by Michael Grant, sound like they'll do the trick for Child #1. He's eleven but reads at a 13-14 year old level, and while he reads anything, he really loves sci-fi/fantasy, so I’m thinking these will be a hit. GONE sounds especially good – all the adults in the world vanish, leaving only teens, tweens and toddlers. Then the teens start to disappear when they hit fifteen, and no one knows why …. mwhahaha. He’ll love it.

Child # 2 is nine and isn’t all that much into fiction. He’s a facts man, loves poring over books about the galaxy, or volcanoes, or bugs … so I might get him the current GUINESS BOOK OF RECORDS, and Sir David Attenborough’s latest offering, LIFE IN COLD BLOOD, all about reptiles. A lot of the language is above his reading level, for sure, but I know he will spend hours with these books.

Child #3 is five, and easy – anything about OLIVIA the pig is right up her alley. Oh, and anything with a prince in it. * rolls eyes* (She’s on a Snow White kick at the moment – someone bought her the DVD of the Disney original and boy, does Snow White’s shrill trilling of "some day my prince will come" make my hair stand on end! Grrr.)

The other kids I’m buying for range from thirteen years down to five. I’ve seen some gorgeous Christmas picture books that’d be great for the littler ones - THE SECRET LIFE OF SANTA CLAUS, by L. Frank Baum, and JINGLE BELLS, HOMEWORK SMELLS by Diane de Groat. THE TWELVE DOGS OF CHRISTMAS by Emma Kragen also caught my eye; and of course, with the movie out now, it is the perfect time to introduce a whole new bunch of little readers to Maurice Sendak's WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.

For the bigger kids – Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS STORY is a good classic, and the Aussie school-angst classic, HATING ALISON ASHLEY will be perfect for my eleven year old niece and a couple of my friends’ daughters. And for the boys (though the girls would enjoy them too) … THE THIRTY NINE CLUES series is fabulous. It’s the adventures of a brother and sister, Amy and Dan Cahill, which start when their grandmother dies. A huge number of previously unknown relatives turn up for the funeral – and a bigger surprise is in store when their grandmother’s will is read and they discover that in order to claim their inheritance (and discover the secret of their family’s power) they must find thirty-nine clues scattered across the world. Child # 1 has read all the books in the series so far (interestingly, each book is written by a different author) and he loves that there's an interactive The Thirty Nine Clues website, plus card collecting and on-line gaming - boy heaven! And the ZAC POWER series, about a boy-spy and his espionage loving family, is always a winner with the lads.

There is one adult I’ll be buying for – my DH, can’t forget him. The trouble is, he’s into sci-fi, and I hate buying it. So does he, actually, because he finds a lot of sci-fi, while conceptually good, is often poorly written (not much different to general fiction, I guess.) Last year I bought him Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD, which he loved, so I’m thinking I might buy another McCarthy; BLOOD MERIDIAN, maybe. It is quite possibly the goriest book I’ve ever read, but it was un-put-downable.

And moi? I’ve already told my DH what book I want Father Christmas to bring me– Stephen King’s UNDER THE DOME. I’ve heard it’s a REALLY big book, and a “disturbingly delightful read” – sounds just perfect!

So, any other suggestions for me? And if you’re buying books this Christmas (and I hope you are) which ones have you chosen?

And, most importantly, what book would you love to find under the tree, just for you?


  1. Hi Rachel,

    You mean this Olivia the pig?

    I'd never heard of her before, but she's this year's Myer Christmas Window story :-)

    Christmas shopping is the _worst_. I did manage to get a few things easily, but now I'm into the "what do I get this person?" or "Why is there not a single trifold men's wallet for sale in Melbourne?" territory *sigh*. I hope your shopping went well!

    Let's see...I bought my mum ECHO IN THE BONE, and I know my dad has bought her some more books that she wanted, too. Although my brother is a huge reader, I don't know _what_ to get him because he just tends to buy the things that he wants, so I'll probably give him a Dymocks gift card so he can spend it as he pleases.

    As for my wish list...I do have a bit of a hankering for Scott Westerfeld's LEVIATHAN, it looks very shiny and interesting! (And big. Big books are good!) And the latest Diana Wynne Jones book (THE GAME), the new Jaclyn Moriarty book (DREAMING OF AMELIA - too late now probably, but if you're buying for teenage girls, I strongly recommend her first book, FEELING SORRY FOR CELIA. It's hilarious - there are all these associations that send the MC letters, including the Association of Teenagers who think she's a disgrace because she's 15 and has never been drunk or kissed a boy. If they'd gotten my address, I'm sure I'd have been sent a "please climb into the refrigerator until your teen years are over" letter too *g*). And THE CRYING TREE by Naseem Rakha, which was reviewed over at Compuserve recently, to name but a few. *g* Fortunately my mum is a school librarian so she has always given me lots of books as presents!!

    I hope Santa is kind to you *s*

  2. Count me in as another one who hasn't brought ONE present yet. :P Why does the season creep up on me nowadays?

    I beginning to think that I've single handedly spurred the local book buying economy this year; I've brought THAT many books! lol. I find myself really tempted by Ereaders. Can you believe? Of course that is REALLY dangerous because I can download a book any time I feel a jones to do so. Really, really dangerous...

  3. I'm about halfway down my list and starting to worry, because we're approaching that time when the only ones left on the list are DH's family and I've got to start cajoling him into coming shopping with me, in one marathon session, where he picks out gifts for them. I can think of a few things, but he can come up with the rest of the ideas only while shopping - instead of thinking of gifts in advance and telling me, so I can just buy/order them and have it all done by December :-)

    Funny you should mention books; this turned out to be a very book-y year for most of our presents as well. I found a copy of Istanbul Noir (like Phoenix Noir) for my parents, as well as the latest books in the Olive Farm series by Carol Drinkwater (she's the actress from the tv show based on James Heriott's books, All Creatures Great and Small, who now has an olive tree farm in France - lucky!); my sister's slowly working her way through Isaac Asimov's books, and as a joke, I got DH the new book Why AC/DC Matters :-) Of course, I've got two amazon (.com and .ca) wishlists a mile long, and I hope family think of looking there for my gifts!

  4. Rachel,

    My kids are all older now, but we all loved Sylvester and the Magic Pebble as a read-aloud. It's one of just a few books I've stolen from what's left of the kiddie books and put it on my shelf for safe keeping. Just the other day, Sparky and I read it together (see my blog).

    I saw the coolest book ever and bought one copy for my 18 year-old, and one for the 15 year-old. It's called What it Is, and is an illustrated journal, full of teenage angst, etc. Both my girls are extremely artistic and love writing, so this will be much appreciated.

    Have fun!


  5. Helen: Yes, it's that Olivia the Pig. We were introduced to her a few years back, when my brother bought my daughter an Olivia board book for her third birthday. It was right when my little dynamo girl was at the pinnacle of her crazy pre-schooler behaviour, and my brother thought the antics little Olivia gets up to reminded him of my daughter to a tee. I had to laugh when I read the last line of that Olivia book - Olivia's mum has just tucked her in bed, bends down to kiss her goodnight and says "You know, sometimes you really wear me out, but I still love you." That's me and my Miss, for sure! You have some great book choices there, Helen; and how very handy to have a librarian for a mum! Thanks for the recommendations, and good luck with the rest of your shopping.

    Kristen - go on, one more book can't hurt, can it? (eg). An Ereader does sound tempting, but like you, I'd feel a cheapskate to download books. I guess when you know how much blood, sweat and tears go into the creating of a book, paying $4.99 for a downloaded version doesn't seem right. But they say its the way of the future ... who knows?

    Deniz - you *have* been doing your bit for the publishing industry! What a great selection you've bought. I haven't come across the Olive Farm series, but I do remember Carol Drinkwater - she played James Herriot's wife, didn't she? I loved that show as a kid; erm, except when James and Seigfreid would "examine" the pregnant cows ... eeeww! (g)

    Stephanie - I'll have to check out those read-aloud books; any books kept after the kids outgrow them must be great. And journals ... what a great idea! My bunch are a bit small for scribbling out all that angsty stuff (though Child #1 is not far off) but my niece, though only eleven, is right there. (g) Sounds like the gift for her!

  6. Rachel,

    Oh yeah...everyone's getting books this year. Forgive me if I can't remember the authors names, I'm in another room and far too lazy to go get them...

    But I got my aunt THE KITE RUNNER, THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE CIA for one uncle, a WWII novel about something or other for another, ONE FOR THE MONEY by Evanovich for another aunt. I got my sister two Jeaniene Frost mom a true crime novel. Alas, no young adult books. *sigh*

    I really wish I could get someone into YA, because there are a lot of YA books that kick some major arse. Off the top of my head for child #1, you might try THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. It's fantastic. It's about a post-ap world that has been divided up into districts, and every year they have to compete for the food supply. They do this by nominating one female and one male teenager from each district for the Hunger Games, which is a gory fight to the death. Crazy cool concept. LOVED it. And there's a sequel out now -- CATCHING FIRE, which I haven't read. *DAMN DAMN DAMN* Cannot spend the day reading, but me want, me want!! :)

    Good luck with the rest of your shopping. I'm happy to say I'm MOSTLY done... just a couple of other small things to buy and I'm golden. :)


  7. Hi Rachel,

    <<"You know, sometimes you really wear me out, but I still love you." That's me and my Miss, for sure!>>

    Awww! How cute *s* (And having met your Miss, I can see why that would be appropriate. She is definitely full of beans!)

    As for the Christmas shopping, it's getting there. I did a marathon, go-to-every-store-in-the-whole-darn-shopping-centre kind of shop on Friday night, and finally managed to find what I was looking for. Now all I need is a Secret Santa pressie for work, and then I think I'm done!

  8. Jen - Well, I've had some shopping success; I managed to buy a whole pile of books for the extended bevy of children on my list, plus a few for my own, but damn, that's only the tip of the ice berg. VERY hard to buy for kids as they get older, especially when Child #1 only wants games for his Nintendo DS. *rolls eyes*. Glad to hear you're nearly done!

    Helen - that's right, you *have* met the Tasmanian Devil who passes herself off as my daughter. I need say no more. (g) And another one who's nearly done with the shopping ... very well done!

  9. Hey Helen - "I did a marathon, go-to-every-store-in-the-whole-darn-shopping-centre kind of shop" - that's *exactly* what I need to do. 8 days left!!!

  10. Rachel - *vbg*

    Deniz - 8 days left?? Yikes! And yes, sometimes marathon-every-store shopping is the only way to get it all done.