Ah, yes, the holidays. They are upon us. What to give? Personally, I'm very fond of books, both for giving and receiving. This year there's been a bumper crop of wonderful books written by and/or published by Minnesota authors and publishers. So over the next week, I'm going to profile several that I think would make fantastic gifts. (In fact, I started yesterday over on my other blog, where I talked with Lynne Rossetto Kasper about her lovely new cookbook.)
I should also--ahem--note that my book would make a wonderful gift too. In fact, I know someone who bought one of my books and gave it accompanied with a gift certificate from the Minnesota Bed and Breakfast Association, which I think is rather brilliant.
OK, enough self-promotion. Today I'm going to talk about a couple of picture books that far transcend their target audience of young readers or pre-readers.
Birds in Our Backyard, text by Adele Porter, photography by Bill Marchel, published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. I can't tell you how much I love this book. The photography is absolutely gorgeous, and I can't imagine the time and patience it took to get some of these shots. Each bird is accompanied by a short poem in larger font, then a short paragraph in smaller font with more details about that bird. So in one short book you have a colorful, lively tale to read to the little ones; text worthy of sounding out for new readers; and photos that bird lovers of any age will appreciate. This is one of those books that, when it showed up on my doorstep, I thought, cool, I wonder who I can give this to when I'm done with it? And then, upon finishing, realized I have no intention of giving it to anyone.
The same thing happened with this book.
Twelve Owls, text by Laura Erickson, illustrations by Betsy Bowen, published by the University of Minnesota Press. This is a fascinating exploration of the 12 species of owls native to Minnesota. Each species is represented by a life-size painting of that owl, from the tiny northern saw-whet owl (only 8 inches from head to tail) to the Great Gray Owl, the largest owl in North America. Along with the color portraits of each owl, there are several black-and-white illustrations too: an owl chasing a rabbit, an owl with head cocked, an owl family in a nest. The text is more advanced than a typical picture book, but again, really young readers will appreciate the vibrant illustrations, and older readers--and adults--will learn a great deal about the complex world of owls.
My thanks to the University of Minnesota Press and the Minnesota Historical Society Press for providing me with review copies of these books. That I have no intention of giving up. They're MINE. Get your own.