Here's our monthly showcase of the latest and greatest new selections in media for youth.
From books and games to educational toys and DVDs, there's never a dull moment for active and eager young minds. And this month, the spotlight shines on some great holiday themed books to welcome the season and shopping ideas.
Andrew McMeel Publishing, $9.99, Ages 12 and older
"Celebrating Christmas: Share, Remember, Cherish" by Jim McCann
There's plenty of great details, dates and information packed into the 80 pages of this tiny hardcover written by Jim McCann, the man who founded the company 1-(800) FLOWERS.com. From the origin of gingerbread men to Christmas decorating traditions, each page is filled with interesting facts and illustrations and photos, along with favorite memories and stories shared by McCann's company employees and customers. It's available at andrewsmcmeel.com.
Andrews McMeel Publishing, $9.99, Ages 8 and older
"MUTTS: A Shtinky Little Christmas" by Patrick McDonnell
A perfect stocking stuffer, there's a happy holiday ending at the end of this 80-page small hardcover featuring the favorite cats and dogs of comic creator Patrick McDonnell. For this adventure, the snow is starting to fall and these problem-prone pets are meeting up with some interesting new friends, ranging from a snowman to Santa Claus. And when they become lost in a storm, it's up to them to find their way home in time for a holiday party that awaits. It's available at andrewsmcmeel.com.
Houghton Mifflin, $12.99, Ages 4 and older
"The Christmas Quiet Book" by Deborah Underwood
With beautiful illustrations by Renata Liwska, a collection of animal families of the forest use just a few words to explain the importance of "quiet time." Whether its eating quietly or while watching a movie or a play, there's a time and a place for talking. Even during the busy, loud and exciting times of the holidays, there's still a need to be polite and quite while waiting for "the big day" to arrive. It's available in stores or at hmhbooks.com.
Houghton Mifflin, $7.99, Ages 4 and older
"Happy Hanukkah Curious George" by Emily Flaschner Meyer
There's plenty of interesting details and description shared in this 16-page "board-style" book dedicated to the traditions and customs for observing "the Festival of Lights." And who better than Curious George to lead the way through an explanation of everything from applesauce and potato pancakes (latkes) to spinning tops called dreidels and flickering candles. With classic illustrations by Mary O'Keefe Young, even the Man in the Yellow Hat helps explain the favorite bright idea moments of this holiday feast. Available in stores or at curiousgeorge.com.
Houghton Mifflin, $18.95, Ages 5 and older
"The Polar Express: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary" by Chris Van Allsburg
It's been a quarter of a century since Michigan author claim-to-fame Chris Van Allsburg first took readers on a ride with his book "The Polar Express." This special hardcover edition has the favorite story of children whisked by rail to Santa's North Pole, with elves and magic, in addition to including a keepsake shiny metal tree ornament and even a CD featuring the story as read by actor Liam Neeson. You can also visit polarexpress.com for activities, recipes for the family, prizes and even a countdown until Christmas.
Clarion Books, $16.99, Ages 4 and older
"Christmas Wombat" by Jackie French
What's a wombat? Young readers soon find out within the 32 pages of this hardcover book with fun and vivid cartoon illustrations by Bruce Whatley. This fur-covered, fat and always smiling creature of the Australia is ready to take young readers on an adventure to the North Pole to visit Santa to help with his busy night of deliveries. And along the way, he meets from new friends, ranging from reindeer to polar bears. From the creators of "Diary of a Baby Wombat, it's in stores or at hmhbooks.com.
Clarion Books, $17.99, Ages 8 and older
"The Christmas Tugboat" by George Matteson and Adele Ursone
This 42-page hardcover is the story of "How the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Came to New York City." Using paintings by James E. Ransome, it's the story of a real tugboat trip and the girl who was at the wheel as police, fire boats, helicopters and tourists made way to welcome the arrival of one of the most famous and grand Christmas trees to grace our country in The Big Apple each year. It's available in stores or at hmhbooks.com.
Sterling Children's Books, $9.95, Ages 5 and older
"Michael Hague's Treasury of Christmas Carols" by Michael Hague
Illustrator Michael Hague, who grew up in Los Angeles, was greatly influenced by the artwork of Walt Disney and his creations like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. His gift to young readers for the holidays is a beautiful red velvet lined hardcover book that includes his favorite animal creations explaining the importance of Christmas carols, while sharing the words to all the most popular songs of the season. From "Jingle Bells" and "Deck the Halls" to "O Christmas Tree" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," they are all included and easy to follow along with. It's available in stores or at sterlingpublishing.com.