‘Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the town, people were scurrying, and rushing around. Counting the last few dollars in purses, despite holiday cheer, I heard a few curses. Last minute gifts, for hard-to-buy folks; stockings longing for more than dollar-store jokes. I want to shop local, so I’ll go have a look. Hark! Lo! It hits me: I’ll go get some books!
Track Pack: Animal Tracks in Full Life Size, by Ed Gray; illustrated by DeCourcy Taylor, Jr.; published by the one and only Stackpole Books. What’s not to like? A small, spiral-bound bound that fits in your pocket, this fantastic nature guide shows a drawing of the animal and a map of its range on the left side of the pages, with a photorealistic, true-to-life-size drawing of the animal’s print on the right side. Whether you’re out power-hiking in the Canyon, or just noticing tracks in your backyard, you can hold this handy little book up right next to the tracks and compare. Extra-cool thing: the pages with the BIG tracks fold out to fit bear paws and moose tracks! This is a great present for kids ages 4 to 104.
Folks who are interested in science, the outdoors, and little resource books that pack a wallop of info might remember the little “Golden Guides.” Recently, St. Martin’s Press started updating and reprinting these treasures. With full-color illustrations, charts, maps, and photos on every page, these pocket-sized guides are fun for kids and adults. Each Golden Guide is individually written by an expert in the field, be it “Pond Life” or “Geology” or “Stars”. Though they are simple enough for kids and beginners wanting an introduction to a subject, I know my brother had to buy the Golden Guide to “The Night Sky” for a college Astronomy class.
For those who love logic puzzles, trivia questions, sudoku, crosswords, and other on-paper brain-games, the Andrews McMeel Publishing Company brings us tiny “Pocket Posh” books filled with at least 100 puzzles each. With bright colored covers and tied up in strings, these books are perfect for stockings, back pockets, and purses. We seen them sent overseas to our men & women serving in the military; gifted to people who spend a lot of time waiting in doctors’ offices; and to parents who have a few minutes here and there in between chauffeuring kids to various activities. Put down the SmartPhone, folks, and pick up one of these awesome little books. They don’t break if you drop them!
Finally, you can’t go wrong with a mass-market paperback. Originally sold as “pulp fiction”, mass-market paperbacks were invented to bring fiction to the masses at a more affordable price. Also, during and after World War 2, soldiers could carry their Westerns or classics when they were traveling light, and they didn’t have to worry if the cheaper material fell apart. Today, there are tens of thousands of mass-market paperbacks to choose from. They fit the budget, the stocking, or the suitcase better than the “trade” or “quality” paperbacks of slightly larger size. Too many choices got you all in a flutter? Pick a book that is being made into a movie, and get ahead of the pop culture crowd: read it before you see it!
So, even if you’ve waited till the last minute to do your shopping, all hope is not lost. The light at the end of the tunnel is not The Polar Express come to run you down.