Book gift guide: Good reads for the younger set

The Boss Baby

Marla Frazee

Beach Lane Books, $16.99

For any family expecting a baby, this hilarious picture-book riffs on how a new baby takes over and runs the household with a pudgy iron fist.


La Noche Buena

A Christmas Story

Antonio Sacre, illustrated by Angela Dominguez

Abrams, $16.95, ages 4-8

A girl goes to Miami to celebrate Christmas with her father’s Cuban family in a story full of beautifully-observed cultural details.

Market Day!

Victoria Roberts and Tomislav Zlatic

Kane Miller, $19.99


For all those families crowding farmers markets with strollers: Here is a beautiful collection of board books introducing colors, shapes, opposites and numbers to the youngest readers (ages 2-6) — and packaged in a box that cleverly unfolds into a market street with puppet characters to array in the stalls.

Shark vs. Train

Chris Barton, illus. by Tom Lichtenheld

Little, Brown, $16.99


This rowdy picture-book contest of one-upmanship brings up the question: Are you a shark guy or a train guy? Perfect for rambunctious boys ages 3-6.

Dash and Lilly’s Book of Dares

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Alfred A. Knopf, $16.99, ages 12 and up


Set in New York during the Christmas school break, this he-said, she-said novel is a story of romance and a celebration of the love of reading. The newly-minted pair spends New Year’s Eve locked in a storeroom at Strand Books with a complete Oxford English Dictionary. What bliss!

Bink and Gollie

Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illus. by Tony Fucile

Candlewick, $15.99


An irresistible set of stories about two very different friends with a passion for roller skates, a gift for expressing themselves in exactly the right words, and the coolest houses on the planet. For early readers ages 7-10, especially girls.

The Cardturner

Louis Sachar

Delacorte, $17.99


A novel about a teenager who falls in love with bridge (yes, the card game!) and, by way of learning about life and love, discovers what a cool dude his great-uncle is. Giving this book might be considered a mawkish move (by grandparents) or a dorky one (by the grandkids), but the writer is the pretty cool author of the widely loved “Holes.” Ages 11 and up.

Bolle writes Word Play, a column about children’s and young adult books, which appears monthly at