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Book Report: Give the gift of a local author

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The holiday season is upon us and the search for appropriate gifts has begun.

In our family the children get top priority and upper Midwestern publishers have been burning the midnight oil to give gift givers a wide variety of choices.

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Here's a sampling of new books for kids from nine to 90.

Roberts author Korinn Hawkins is out with another book for kids. It's entitled, "Our Home, The Earth," photos by Samantha Cole and Corey Hawkins.

It's a real charmer and a good way to begin teaching kids early how to respect the planet they live on. (Hardcover available at Korinn, $18.99 and Amazon.com. e-book, $1.99, softcover, $9.99)

It's based on a story Hawkins wrote years ago, set it aside and when she had two children, dug it up and included her kids in the narrative.

So she's taking her kids on a walk in the great outdoors where "the sky was that perfect shade of blue that you cannot find in a crayon."

But wait! What's that? A plastic bag someone has carelessly thrown in the pasture!

Time for her little boy to get a lecture on polluting the planet. And so it goes.

This beautifully produced book, with charming color photos of and by the participants, is a winner.

And there's lots more, most of it from area publishers.

For youngsters, grade levels 6-9, Graphic Universe of Minneapolis has a series of charmingly illustrated graphic novels, including "Lou: Down in the Dumps," by Julien Neel, ($8.95) originally published in France and now translated by Carol Burrell.

Also a hair-raiser entitled "My Boyfriend is a Monster: I Date Dead People," by Ann Kerns ($9.95), and No. 1 of the Chicagoland Detective Agency series entitled "The Drained Brains Caper," by Trina Robbins ($6.95).

Lerner Publications imprint Darby Creek appeals to an older demographic with a series of hardcover teenage fiction "for reluctant readers," in a series they call "After the Dust Settled," including "River Run," by Deirdre Black "Shot Down," by Jonathan Mary-Todd and "Plague Riders," by Gabriel Goodman (all $20.95 in hardcover).

There's also the Robyn Hunter Mysteries by Norah McClintock, including "Last Chance ($8.95, paper).

Lernerbooks of Minneapolis excels in biography and history. If you've got teen sports fans there are books out there for them in its "Amazing Athletes" series. Have a Packer Fan on your list.

Try a new one, "Clay Matthews," by Jeff Savage.

Basketball?

"Shaquille O'Neal," by Ross Bernstein.

If I were in junior high, I'd love to get a Lernerbook biography of Booker T. Washington, by Thomas Amper, or "Nathan Hale: Patriot Spy," by Shannon Zemlicka, or "Leif Eriksson," by Shannon Knudsen or "Laura Ingalls Wilder," by Ginger Wadsworth.

Millbrook Press, another imprint of Lerner, would have been welcome when I was a kid.

Millbrook features an incredibly talented fellow named Bob Raczka, whose books would have given me a step up from my classmates when it came to the fine arts, which, I must admit is still a mystery to me.

Raczka illustrates and writes about the various forms of visual art in books like "Name that Style: All about Isms in Art" ($8.95).

In "The Vermeer Interviews" Raczka pretends to interview characters in seven different paintings by the Dutch artist Vermeer.

When we began this column, I gave high marks to Korinn Hawkins for her accessible new book to help inculcate ecological principles in the values of youngsters.

Carolrhoda books from Lerner have always been in the forefront of making social problems clear and insightful for the young reader. Try "Sacagawea," by Minnesota native American poet Lise Erdrich.

Or "Taj Mahal," by Caroline Arnold, or "Land of Big Dreamers: Voices of Courage in America," by Neil Waldman."

And then start stuffing stockings.

Happy holidays!

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