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Treasures are found amid pages

December 16, 2012
Diane Speer - Lifestyles Editor , The Alpena News

When it comes to Christmas gifts, Paige Edwards ranks books at the top of her list.

"Always my favorite gift under the tree were the books I've gotten over the years, treasured and kept," she said.

Ever the appreciative recipient of a good read, Edwards now is in a unique position to recommend the best book picks for holiday gift giving for kids of all ages. As the manager of Blue Phoenix Books in Alpena, she knows what new books are hot and what classics remain ever popular.

Article Photos

News Photo by Diane Speer
Paige Edwards, manager of Blue Phoenix Books, arranges a display of children’s books suitable for holiday gift giving.

Among her favorite storybooks this season for the younger set is "The Santa Trap" by Jonathan Emmett.

"It's been out overseas for a while and is just beautifully illustrated," Edwards said. "It's about a devious little boy who decides to capture Santa with a very elaborate plan. There are lots of rhymes. It's very funny and cute and is for the mischieviousness in us all."

"The Night Santa Got Lost: How NORAD Saved Christmas" by Michael Keane is another storybook recommendation for younger children.

"It's one sent from our indie suppliers. It's for our military families," Edwards said. "There are really fun illustrations. It's silly with rhymes throughout, but with adult humor built into it."

The Dr. Seuss classic, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," remains a popular holiday selection for children, according to Edwards. So too, do "The Polar Express" by Chris Van Allsburg, "The Mitten" by Jan Brett and "The Nutcracker."

For young grade school readers, books about everyone's favorite first grader, Junie B. Jones, top the list of favorites. Edwards said "Junie B. Jones, Jingle Bells Batman Smells" is a good Christmas pick this year, especially since Alpena Civic Theatre currently is doing the show live on stage.

Also popular with this age group is the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne.

"Her books just fly off the shelf," Edwards said.

Osborne wrote a special Christmas volume (#44) in the series called "A Ghost Tale for Christmastime," that Edwards recommends, along with her newest book currently available only in hardcover. Its title is "Perfect Time for Pandas." Also oft selected books amongst this group are the "Diary of a Whimpy Kid" books, with "The Third Wheel" having just been published.

As for older elementary age readers, the American Chillers series by Jonathan Rand continues to attract a large fan base. Rand just came out with #36 in this series, "Carnivorous Crickets in Colorado."

"The first week we had the book in the store, it sold out, and we had to order another batch," Edwards said.

She also recommends "The Trumpet of the Swan" by E.B. White, (more famous for the classic, "Charlotte's Web") because it is "a beautiful story that has that same whimsy as 'Charlotte' Web.'"

Edwards said anything by Lois Lowry makes for a good selection for young adults. In particular, she recommends "Number the Stars," a Lowry book that combines historical fiction with a beautiful friendship between two girls. Lowry also wrote the ever popular books, "The Giver" and "Gathering Blue."

"If children 12 to 17 haven't read 'The Hunger Games' yet, the should," Edwards said about this first book in a trilogy by Suzanne Collins. The other two book are still available only in hardcover.

Other young adult recommendations include "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle (strong female protagonist and mythology), "The Maze Runner" by James Dashner (science fiction), "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak (set in Nazi Germany), "The Diviners" by Libba Bray (fantasy), "The Match" trilogy by Ally Condle and "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien.

"Since the movie is coming out in theatres this Christmas, 'The Hobbit' will be really popular," Edwards said.

As for classics and those wanting a little more substance, her two top picks are "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte and "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Blue Phoenix Books is located at 106 N. Second. The store is able to order books not in stock and receive them within three to seven days. For more information, call 278-4020.

Diane Speer can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5691.



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