UT Expert Suggests Five Great Holiday Book Gifts for Your Kids

Miranda Clark

Miranda Clark

KNOXVILLE — Need help finding some great books for the youngsters on your holiday list? The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, might be able to help.

Miranda Clark, director of UT’s Center for Children’s & Young Adult Literature, suggests these five reads:

“Hello Baby!” written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Steve Jenkins.

“You can start a fun conversation with your little one by reading ‘Hello Baby!’” Clark said.

Illustrated with lifelike collages, the baby in the book meets a parade of young animals. In the end, the baby learns which of the creatures is the most special of all.

Mem Fox is Australia’s most highly regarded picture-book author.

The book is published by Beach Lane Books.

“What’s Coming for Christmas,” written by Kate Banks and illustrated by George Hallensleben.

“If you like surprises, you will love this book,” Clark said. “While a little boy and girl are getting ready for the holiday, something special is happening in the barn that turns out to be the best surprise of all.”

Published by Frances Foster Books, the book is written for children ages 3 to 8.

“Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea,” written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins.

“This is a perfect book for the aspiring marine biologist on your list,” Clark said.

Written for children ages 5 to 8, the book explores the sea from top to bottom. Sidebars and endnotes provide additional details about the sea creatures. Illustrations are of cut paper.

“It beautifully captures the amazing sea creatures from the shallow coral reef to the Mariana’s Trench,” Clark said.

The book was published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.

“Leviathan” written by Scott Westerfield and illustrated by Keith Thompson.

Written for young adults, this book is a fantasy set at the cusp of World War I.

Two unlikely young allies from opposite sides of the battlefield unite aboard the Leviathan, a massive biological British airship that resembles an enormous flying whale. They embark on a fantastic, around-the-world adventure that changes their lives forever.

The book was published by Simon Pulse.

“14 Cows for America,” written by Kewilson Kimeli Naiyomah and Carmen Deedy and illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez.

Written for children ages 4 to 8, this is a story of a young Kenyan who returns to his village after being in New York City and witnessing the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He decides to give his cow — one of his most treasured possessions — to the Americans as an expression of condolence. His fellow villagers donate 13 more cows.

“To heal a sorrowing heart, give something that is dear to your own,” Naiyomah and Deedy write.

At the end of the book, Kenyan author Naiyomah explains that this was a real event and that he was the young man involved. They also explain what happened to the cows.

The book was published by Peachtree Publishers.


The Center for Children’s & Young Adult Literature is located in 434 Communications Building. With a noncirculating, examination book collection of the latest works in this genre, the center provides an academic and research resource for students and faculty, and also offers outreach to teachers, librarians, parents and children. The center is instrumental in bringing children’s and young adult authors to Knoxville to conduct workshops and speak.

The center is part of the School of Information Sciences, but has close ties with UT Libraries, the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences and Knox County Library. It is administered by a board of directors, which includes UT faculty, area librarians and local authors.


C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu)

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