You can never go wrong buying books for kids for the holidays. If you are overwhelmed trying to figure out which books are suitable for the age of a child, then make it easier on yourself and go to one of the book stores dedicated just for kids.
Livres Babar, celebrating twenty years in the book business, has done so well that last year it opened up a second location in Double Hook’s old home on Greene Ave. Kidlink has been a fixture on Monkland Ave. for thirteen years. The people who own or work in these shops read the books, so they know them well. They are also informed about which ones are popular in each age bracket, because they see which ones are flying out the door.
Other less expensive options for children’s books are the Book Market, a second-hand shop that has an extensive children’s section, and JRC Warehouse, a toy liquidator which offers great clearance prices on books.
By far the hottest activity books of the season according to Kidlink’s cash register, are Taro Gomi’s “Doodles” or “Scribbles”. They consist of gorgeous illustrations by Gomi, a Japanese artist, which are left unfinished with suggestions as to how to complete them. It’s for ages five to ninety-nine.
I asked Patricia Wood, manager of Livres Babar, to suggest some of her favorites. These are just a teensy sampling: In picture books, Lilly’s Big Day by Henkes; for little girls three to six years, perhaps Toot And Puddle:The One and Only by Holly Hobbie. Girls will like Olivia Forms a Band by Ian Falconer, and for boys four to seven, The Hockey Tree by David Ward or Pirate Bob by Kathryn Lasky. Animal lovers from five to ten can read The World’s Greatest Elephant by Ralph Healfer. Older boys ages ten to fifteen enjoy the adventures in Pirate’s Passage by William Gilkerson and for girls you might buy Ingo by Helen Dunmore.
Hania Brooks, an owner of Kidlink picked out: Millie Moo, Touch and Feel by Roger Priddy which is a search and find book. For three to eight year olds, My Bodyworks is a book and CD by Jane and Steven Schoenberg with catchy songs about bones, muscles, heart, etc. Animal Faces by Akira Satoh and Kyoko Toda is for ages four to fifteen. Madonna has another book out, English Roses, Too Good to Be True and the series Artemis Fowl, is up to Book 5: Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer, which would please those nine years to adult.
Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall is for girls (and their Moms) ages ten to fifteen; it’s about four sisters. two rabbits and a very interesting boy. Then there’s Ryan and Jimmy: And the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together by Herb Shovellerby. A book with a cute twist is The Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers And Eaters by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, with recipes like Cinderella pumpkin tartlets or Snow White baked apples.
Livres Babar Books, 46 Ste. Anne St. at Bord du Lac, Pointe Claire. Phone: 514-694-0380 Hours: Monday to Thursday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. This is the kind of children’s book store everyone would like to have in their neighbourhood. With about 45,000 books and the biggest selection in Quebec, it’s full of every award winning book (French and English), sells CD’s of your kids’ favourite singers, and even has a decent choice of educational toys. The staff reads avidly and know what to offer. Check to find out about the monthly events at 3 pm on Saturdays – often touring authors reading from their own books. Other location: 1235A Greene (514-931-0606).
Kidlink, 5604 Monkland Ave, at Oxford St. Phone: 514-482-4188. Hours: Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Opened in 1993, this book/toy store is oriented towards children. Every level of book, from baby cloth and hardboard to toddler picture books, preschool, step-into-reading books and chapter books right up to young adult and teen books, all the bases are covered here. To keep kids busy there are tons of different kind of activity books like dot-to-dot, cursive writing, math and language comprehension as well as audio books. There some adult books and lots of parenting ones, as well as cookbooks. For the rest of the store, they concentrate on award winning toys and games, music and video and arts and crafts. There are gifts for newborns, journals and toys with long term value, and it all comes with free gift wrapping and excellent customer service.
Book Market, 3343H Des Sources Blvd. at De Salaberry Blvd, D.D.O.. Phone: 514-683-9890. Hours: Monday to Wednesday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. These two locations are part of the largest chain of used book stores in North America, and that means lots of children’s books too. With about 1,000 to choose from in both hard covers and soft covers, they will always have relatively recent titles and classics, all in good condition. There’s picture books, first readers, easy readers and often Archie comics, Babysitter Club, Shivers, Animorphs, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Most used book stores don’t bother with magazines, but here they have boxes of them in every subject – sports, tennis, boating, fashion, crafts, home, science and yes, National Geographic. Even better – they will buy back everything they sold you for 20% of the sticker price. 90% of the books are English. Other location: Kirkland, 2935 St. Charles Blvd. (514-694-1546). www.bookmarket.ca
JRC Toy Warehouse, 5765 Pare, Suite 200 at Devonshire St. Phone: 514-342-6979. Hours: Nov. 29th 10 a.m to 5 p.m., Nov. 30th and Dec 1st 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., December 2 to Dec 23th Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Dec. 24th 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Once a year before Christmas, between October and December, this toy (and book) warehouse opens to the public with deals of up to 70% off.. Books start at 2 for $1, and there are sticker and story books from $2 to $10, mostly for ages newborn to five years old. Name brand toys from Fisher-Price, Mattel, Hasbro, Little Tykes, Step 2, Crayola, Playskool, Disney, Mega Bloks, Vtech, Spiderman, Hulk, Bratz, Strawberry Shortcake and Barbie line the rest of the shelves. www.jrctoys.com