Boing Boing's Holiday Gift Guide part one: Kids

Well, it's coming up to the holidays and I've started to make my list and fill it in. As a starting point, I went through all the books and DVDs and gadgets I'd reviewed on Boing Boing since last November and looked at what had been the best-sellers among BB's readership, figuring you folks have pretty good taste! As I was taking a walk down old review lane, I realized that many of you would probably be interested in seeing these lists too, so I've turned them into a series of blog-posts that I'll be sticking up, one per day, for the next week or so. Today I'm starting with kids' media and media about kids and child-rearing. Later this week, I'll do fiction, nonfiction, comics and graphic novels, CDs and DVDs and gadgets and everything else, one a day. Hope this helps you with your holiday shopping as much as it's helped me with mine!

Baby's First Mythos
(C.J. Henderson)
Cthluhoid picture book
Original Boing Boing post

Invention of Hugo Cabret
(Brian Selznik)
Award-winning steampunk graphic novel for kids
Original Boing Boing post

Good as Lily
(Derek Kirk Kim)
Ass-kicking girl-positive graphic novel for young readers
Original Boing Boing post

The Plain Janes
(Cecil Castellucci, Jim Rugg)
Funny, spirited little story about a gang of girls named Jane at a strait-laced high-school, rejected by the mainstream, and their art adventures.
Original Boing Boing post

Little Brother
(Cory Doctorow)
My bestselling young adult novel about kids who hack for freedom
Original Boing Boing post

The Starry Rift
(Jonathan Strahan)
Science fiction anthology for teens
Original Boing Boing post

St. Trinian's: The Entire Appalling Business
(Ronald Searle)
Ronald Searle's original dark, weird and hilarious St Trinian's comics
Original Boing Boing post

The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need
(Daniel H. Pink)
Optimistic and iconoclastic career guide in manga form
Original Boing Boing post

Alice in Wonderland Tattoos

Alice in Wonderland temporary tatts
Original Boing Boing post

Freakazoid - The Complete First Season

The best TV cartoon since the Max Fleischer era, on DVD
Original Boing Boing post

Boy Proof
(Cecil Castellucci)
A compassionate young adult novel about a weird, smart, angry girl
Original Boing Boing post

(Lauren McLaughlin)
Smart YA novel about sex and sexuality
Original Boing Boing post

My Mother Wears Combat Boots: A Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us
(Jessica Mills)
Kick-ass punk-parenting book
Original Boing Boing post

How to Ditch Your Fairy
(Justine Larbalestier)
Hilarious kids book about the problems with fairies
Original Boing Boing post

(Terry Pratchett)
Moving and sweet young adult novel about science, superstition and decency
Original Boing Boing post

(Marion Bataille)
The best pop-up book in the world
Original Boing Boing post

The Baby Sleep Solution: A Proven Program to Teach Your Baby to Sleep Twelve Hours a Night
(Suzy Giordano)
The best parenting book I've read
Original Boing Boing post

How Children Learn
(John Holt)
Cllassic of human, kid-centered learning
Original Boing Boing post

The Graveyard Book
(Neil Gaiman)
Spooky, magical retelling of The Jungle Book in a graveyard
Original Boing Boing post

How Children Fail
(John Holt)
Angry lessons from failures to teach
Original Boing Boing post

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: A Pop-Up Book
(Sam Ita)
The paper kraken wakes
Original Boing Boing post

(Kimya Dawson)
Weird, jangly, hilarious awesome music for kids
Original Boing Boing post

Zoe's Tale
(John Scalzi)
Scalzi's smart-ass young-adult sf thriller
Original Boing Boing post

Free to Be...You and Me (The 35th Anniversary Edition, Hardcover)
(Marlo Thomas and Friends)
The book every kid needs
Original Boing Boing post


  1. Great list. I would add No!, Here Come The ABCs and Here Come The 123s by They Might Be Giants. Great stuff for kids and adults (No! is one of my favorite TMBG CDs).

  2. I’m sure this isn’t very wise of me, but… hey!

    While gift guides are most likely coming down the pike, it seems like the majority of books mentioned on boingboing are ‘young adult’ novels.

    Cory’s work aside, since it’s his house, just scrolling through the list I know I’ve seen at least 6 of those titles mentioned here before.

    I’m an adult and I’m always looking for something new to read. Sure I’m not the only one. Thanks in advance. Disemvowelment here I come.

  3. Working at a big box bookstore (Bunns and Noodles–thanks Alison Bechdel,) this list will be great for me this holiday season as people ask for suggestions. Thanks!

  4. I’m glad my boss isn’t like that! I’m working for BoingBoing right now and I’ve become a huge fan of young adult lit, especially Little Brother. It’s awesome!

  5. Blaine:
    “Today I’m starting with kids’ media and media about kids and child-rearing.”

    #3 and #$: shadduppa you face. Twenty four titles and you piss in the soup? Just shut up, I,and many,many others are tired of your yawping.

    Cory: thanks, I’ve read only four and enjoyed them all so I’ve high hopes for the rest. A useful gift guide.

  6. Hugo Cabaret is an excellent book! I work for an organization that works with young children’s books, and most of us are also avid fans of young adult lit and graphic novels. I’ve read a few of the titles from the Minx line that published Good as Lily and the Plain Janes. DC comics just shutdown the imprint after running into marketing obstacles. Sometimes getting a young lady into graphic novels means looking beyond her gender ;)

  7. I hereby cast my vote for IP bans for those that remain willfully tone deaf to the vandal sub-text of attacking Cory’s written works. Not warnings, not disemvoweling, notun-publishing- just straight IP bans. As in: “get lost”.

  8. Thanks for this. I’ve wish-listed several already for my older-than-her-years, manga-drawing 10 year old.

    One point of fact: Hugo Cabaret is “unavailable” at Amazon with no apparent date of availability, so your link there is tantalizing.

  9. Tkn:

    mnr typ n my pst.

    “Whl (thr) gft gds r mst lkly cmng dwn th pk…”

    ‘m wr ths s th frst f mny. Nvr th lss, fl my pnt stnds.

    Frst ff, hv n ss wth Cry hwkng hs wrs. t’s hs st. G fr t. Prsnlly, lvd “Smn Cms t Twn, Smn Lvs Twn” nd f wr t tk mbrg t nythng… t’d b tht h’s NT pmpng tht stry. Tht’s nly ‘f’.

    Tht sd, ‘m srry f my pnn ffnds bcs t rmns. I have no children and no interest in books geared towards them. Ths ds nt mk m bd prsn fr pntng t n pprnt nflx f sd mtrl.

    Cry nd th gng r wlcm t d whtvr thy wnt. f thy wnt t pst nthng bt rvws f prgs… t’s thr wbst.

    ‘m nt prtstng. ‘m nt bycttng. ‘m jst vcng my pnn.

  10. BDC – If you’re seriously skipping his posts because you think most of them are self promotion then you’re missing out on alot of wonderful things (including the posts that are about his own work).

  11. …If Larry Marder’s first Beanworld collection is available in time for Chrisnukkah, then it needs to be on the list. I have the first hardcover from almost 20 years ago, but that might be too hard to find and/or expensive for a kids’ book.

    …Also, the DVD restorations of A Charlie Brown Chrisnukkah and Rudolph The Ostracized Mutant Reindeer are always great gifts, especially for families whose parental work skeds can’t allow them to be home when either special airs on TV so they can whip up a batch of popcorn and sit with their kids to enjoy a holiday classic or two as they should be enjoyed!

    Note: I’m viral marketing for all three products. They are great, they keep your teeth bright and white, and there’s evidence they also prevent various cancers and flea infestations. And if you buy before December 24th, you’ll get ten free shares of Motorola stock to give as gifts! They make great sheets of emergency toilet paper, although they’re not good for paper airplanes!

  12. First of all, Cory, go ahead and talk about your books as much as you want – I mean for goodness’ sake it’s your site!

    Secondly, thank you for the list – I have an 11 year old and I’m definitely going to get The Invention of Hugo Cabret for XMAS for him!

  13. First, Cory, can you create a gift list for “The Neighbor of the Geek”, e.g. girlfriends, best friends, spouses and buddies who aren’t totally BB material but aren’t complete Luddites or traditionalists?

    Second: if the list is “books of the past year reviewed here with most sales” and Cory’s book is one of them…shouldn’t it go here? Even if it got there by hawking? If you have a book (or MP3s, or paintings) I am quite sure we’ll see you coughing up a lung explaining why it’s very good and can be bought on your site too.

  14. folks, don’t even respond to these assholes. The one post wonders that pop up to smear their dung will be dealt with, those who should know better should be pointedly ignored until embarrassment sets in.

  15. Blaine:

    I have no children and no interest in books geared towards them.

    Me too, now what?

    This does not make me a bad person for pointing out an apparent influx of said material.

    Yes. Bad, bad person. Do you need to point out all the other posts you have no need for?

    Move along, get over it, enjoy.

  16. The addition of Younger Brother on the list is totally valid, and I intend getting copies for my 11 year old daughter (along with the graphic novels) as well as for myself. the list is a breakdown of whats good from boing boing. what’s to hate?

    ‘Neighbour of the geek’ is a great idea. you see, as a geek, I’m hopeless at choosing presents. unless it’s from Dr Bleep or Make I’m screwed. homemade knitted robot synthesizers FTW!

  17. I’d like to suggest the “Lafitte’s Return” series of CDs. The proceeds from the CDs go to purchasing musical instruments to help rebuild the New Orleans public school music programs. There are now four volumes, each is over 79 minutes long, packed with pirate and maritime music.

  18. I am going to blatantly abuse my position as a commenter to hawk my own stuff, because you forgot to include Hank Hooper’s multimedia album download, “Playground Fortune Teller”, an interactive eBook and 17 original songs for young people.

    Make with the clicky…

    Special offer: buy one copy of the album and you may share the link with as many of your friends as you like. Our cadre of lawyers will not come after you, because we have none.

    Happy holidaze,

  19. What’s a FULL TIME blog for if you can’t promote your own stuff? Especially if the stuff is good stuff. Promote away, a man’s got to eat!

  20. And frankly, if we are all about copyleft and p2p marketing -without the middle man and overheads – how else are we gonna sell our stuff?

    Ditto: promote away.

  21. Cannot possibly agree with Cory enough that FREKAZOID! is an amazing show. Possibly even tops Batman the Animated Series as my favorite 90s cartoon.

  22. Blaine @2, when you find yourself typing a sentence like “I’m sure this isn’t very wise of me, but…”, does it ever occur to you to stop?

    Just curious.

    Blaine @11:

    That said, I’m sorry if my opinion offends because it remains. I have no children and no interest in books geared towards them.

    And that’s why you’ve read and are now commenting on an entry titled “Boing Boing’s Holiday Gift Guide part one: Kids.”

    Do you actually expect me to believe you’re that stupid? Because I don’t. I just think you’re being disingenuous, and I have no patience with it.

  23. Are we doing “When Moderators Collide!” today? I think we’ve given the platform a case of hiccups.

  24. Takuan, we should go light on expressions of intent to maul the readers. It’s always the good ones who take in the message, and feel alarmed or even slightly guilty; while those who are its intended audience are, almost by definition, inattentive readers.

  25. Just a suggestion, re:

    “Ass-kicking girl-positive graphic novel for young readers”

    Using “ass-kicking” as a positive identifier for women, while nice, is becoming a cliché to the point where it’s grating. Like women can only be victims or ass-kickers and nothing in between. Same goes for the descriptor “strong female characters.” We never talk about “weak male characters” – in fact, we never feel the need to qualify the male characters. We say “characters that boys can relate to” – while “characters that girls can relate to” is often thought of some pretty princess mallrat stereotype so many people don’t use it. I say we take it back.

    Sorry to rant a bit, it’s just that the book deserved better than just being labeled a strong girl book.

  26. @Takuan re: #21
    folks, don’t even respond to these assholes. The one post wonders that pop up to smear their dung will be dealt with, those who should know better should be pointedly ignored until embarrassment sets in.

    you’re not ignoring them hard enough!

  27. I would also suggest the “Plain Janes” sequel, “Janes in Love,” and “Confessions of a Blabbermouth” both from the unfortunately dead “Minx” line from DC Comics. While it wasn’t actually released this year, I would also recommend “Castle Waiting” by Linda Medley!

  28. This list makes me wish I was a kid again.

    I’m wondering if Baby’s First Mythos will scare my brothers kids… uh, ‘1 used & new for $75.00’? is that right?

    I have no kids, but my brother has 3. Am I out of touch – what books are appropriate for a 5 year old female, a 3 year old female, & a 1 year old male? If they can focus their eyes, they can read or be read to, yes?

  29. SMGRADY,
    You might want to check out this series of interactive art history books for little kids. In the pop art book the reader can feel a fuzzy Keith Haring dancer, a sticky piece of Lichtenstein mustard bread, and pop Warhol’s can of Tomato Soup. The whole series is very nice for kids and the adults who are forced to read to them.

    This is an amazon link to the “Touch the Art” book series.

  30. You know, when I was a kid I hate when my dad forced sports books on me, and was severely disappointed at me when I didn’t partake in his indulgence, leading me to feeling bad. I hope you guys keep your own childhoods in mind.

  31. In truth, neithor child nor adult should force anything upon one another. Common interests between adults and the very young can be hard to find, but art is most certainly a good source of common ground. And music. For some reason, he really likes Gram Parsons. Many many other things are summarily rejected, though, for being “sad songs.”

  32. The Golden Treasury of Myths and Legends by Anne Terry White, illustrated by Marie Provensen. It was the best book in the whole world when I was small, and marvellously illustrated besides. I checked it out of the library again and again.

    Thirty years later, I got my own copy, and was almost afraid to look at it in case it didn’t measure up. What I found was that it was even better than I’d understood at the time.

    Note: Amazon has the book’s reading level listed as “Baby-Preschool”, which is insane. The storytelling is elegantly clear, but it’s also true to its originals. Preschoolers are only going to get so far with lines like “The eye delights in what the eye still sees,” or “I came like the thunder, and I vanish like the wind.” And while I know I never came to a bit of harm from its stories of children abandoned on mountainsides, kings blinding themselves after committing incest, heroes wrestling with monsters and tearing their arms off, brothers being eaten one by one by wolves, knightly lives dedicated to treasonable adultery with the king’s wife, and other intriguing and educational matters, I have to think they’d be wasted on toddlers. The book was fractionally too old for me when I first made its acquaintance. I think I was seven. Use your judgement. Too young is better than too old.

    Most people come to these stories as high school or college students. Howevermuch praise they’re given, they’re still subjects to be studied from a distance. But to grow up with this book is to meet them when you’re still susceptible to being amazed or terrified or heartbroken by stories, and you don’t yet know how they come out. The plot twists come alive for you. Beowulf might be beaten by the monster. Medea is just the name of the woman Theseus brings home and marries. Tristan and Isolde might, when all’s said and done, live happily ever after.

    That’s a place you can’t get to any more. Your kid might.

  33. Best of luck this sales season, Cory. I never knew of the YA category until you mentioned it so many times. I don’t keep pace with the latest kid’s stuff, but I’m glad a full grown man like you is fully involved.

    Nw tk chll pll nd mntn yr sns f hmr.

  34. Teresa Nielsen Hayden:

    Your patience doesn’t specifically interest me since it seems to be outside the realm of your aforementioned ‘patience’ to actually read my comments.

    My point is BEYOND this specific post. I’m pointing out that for a literary crowd such as boing boing a marked amount of the suggested reading materials…


    are ‘young adult’ novels.

    This is my opinion. I am entitled to it. The contributors of this site are entitled to post whatever strikes their fancy.

    It’s only by giving them feedback, genuine feedback, that they’ll be able to gauge the pulse of those reading it.

    Whether or not they’re interested in the opinion is, frankly, no one else’s concern.

    As well you’re welcome to share your own opinion, which may differ from mine.

  35. #30:

    Oh, sorry, I forgot to address this…
    So your question is if when faced with possible negative consequences do I still do what I think is right…?

    I like to think so.

  36. Blaine, this is a website wit 5-ish regular contributors, one of which is a young-adult author.

    Draw your own conclusions as to why there are so many young adult novels featured, share them, but be aware it is is simply not okay to berate your hosts. Or even just sound like it.

    So your question is if when faced with possible negative consequences do I still do what I think is right…?

    I like to think so.

    Yes, yes you do.

    To be generous: She was asking if you ever hit “Preview” and try to read your comment the way someone else might. Half of effective communication is respecting your audience, the other half is the audience respecting you. (A less generous interpretation of TNH above is do you ever listen to what comes out of your mouth?)

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