Recommendations from the mind of James Patterson

KidsPost asked author James Patterson for a list of new and old books that young readers might want to add to their holiday wish list. Here’s what he came up with:

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

by Chris Grabenstein

304 pages. Ages 8 to 12. $16.99.

Mr. Lemoncello’s library is definitely the coolest one in the world, and this is a story kids everywhere will love. The library has holograms and hover ladders — it’s even got an Imax theater! It has drawn comparisons to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” but Chris Grabenstein’s story really celebrates the magic of libraries and books. It will even teach you how to understand the Dewey decimal system and impress all your friends. You’ll want to plan a family trip to the local library when you reach the last page. Grabenstein has created something truly special, and I swear I’m not biased despite our previous collaborations on “I Funny” and “Treasure Hunters.”

The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus, Book 4)

by Rick Riordan

608 pages. Ages 9 to 12. $19.99.

If you haven’t read any Rick Riordan books, you’re missing out. All of his books are great, but “The Heroes of Olympus” series is a favorite of my son’s and mine. These adventures always take you on a wild ride, and this might be the best one yet. In this episode, Percy Jackson and his crew journey to the underworld, the heart of all evil, in the hopes of stopping the end of the world. There’s a lot at stake, and this is going to be one adventure that you won’t be able to put down. You could also read the series from the beginning, with “The Lost Hero.”

The Sasquatch Escape

by Suzanne Selfors, illustrated by Dan Santat

224 pages. Ages 7 to 12. $15.99.

This is a book that’s chock-full of crazy creatures and wild adventures. Meet Ben Silverstein, a city kid who has traveled to the small town of Buttonville to spend the summer with his grandfather. He joins forces with a local girl, Pearl Petal, and together they encounter a baby dragon, a mysterious hospital for magical creatures and, of course, Sasquatch. Dan Santat’s illustrations are particularly fun and will engage even those kids who say they aren’t interested in reading. It’s the first installment in a great new series, “The Imaginary Veterinary,” and the sequel, “The Lonely Lake Monster,” is even zanier.

Peter Pan

by J.M. Barrie

224 pages. Age 8 and older. $7.99.

It’s a classic, but it’s still a magical read for kids of all ages. It’s got pirates, fairies, mermaids — what’s not to like? I still remember the first time I traveled to Neverland as a kid, and back then it was one of the only books that I truly enjoyed. There are great new books coming out all the time, but there are also many, many classic stories that are worth a read or a reread. When I sat down to write “Maximum Ride,” my first series for kids, I had J.M. Barrie’s story in the back of my mind.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

by Brian Selznick

533 pages. Ages 8 to 12. $24.99.

It’s a combination of reading a great book and watching a great silent movie. Hugo is a 12-year-old orphan living in a Paris train station, and the pictures tell his story just as much as the text does. The illustrations are quite stunning, and it’s a read that families can enjoy together. I remember that my son, Jack, loved it just as much as I did. There was a film adaptation a few years ago, but the book is even better. These images will encourage kids, especially ones who love watching movies and television, to keep reading.

The 5th Wave

by Rick Yancey

480 pages. Age 12 and older. $18.99.

This one is for the older readers, but it’s an epic sci-fi ride nonetheless. It’s an alien-invasion story that’s full of action and thrills. The story will appeal to fans of “The Hunger Games,” but it has a mythology that’s all its own. The heroine, Cassie, is a force to be reckoned with. It’s got enough twists and turns to keep any reader, young or old, on the edge of his seat. I couldn’t stop reading.

Best new books of 2013

The Washington Post’s reviewers of kids books offer their picks for the year’s best titles.


Counting by 7s

by Holly Goldberg Sloan, 384 pages, age 10 and older, $16.99.

Willow Chance, 12, is what she calls a “person of color” and a genius. She was adopted at birth by a white couple, but when they suddenly die, she finds herself living with friend Mai Nguyen.

Flora & Ulysses

by Kate DiCamillo, 240 pages, ages 8 to 12, $17.99.

A run-in with a vacuum cleaner gives a squirrel superpowers in Newbery Medal winner Kate DiCamillo’s delightfully tart new novel. Much like its furry hero, this fast-paced tale is full of bold leaps and surprising turns.

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

by Kathi Appelt, 336 pages, ages 8 to 12, $16.99.

When feral hogs threaten the swamp, two vigilant raccoons decide to warn its legendary protector, the Sugar Man. The problem? They have no idea where he lives or how to get past his giant pet rattlesnake.


by Vince Vawter, 240 pages, age 10 and older, $16.99.

Summertime living isn’t easy for Little Man, 11, in the segregated Memphis of 1959. He stutters badly but has agreed to take over the paper route for his vacationing best friend. Collecting payments means speaking with new people, who often assume he’s stupid as soon as he opens his mouth.

One Came Home

by Amy Timberlake, 272 pages, ages 9 to 12, $16.99.

Amy Timberlake’s historical novel is a lively valentine to sisterhood and a bird that no longer exists: the passenger pigeon, which once flew in flocks so vast and dense that they blocked the sun.

Mary Quattlebaum


On a Beam of Light

by Jennifer Berne, 56 pages, ages 6 to 9, $17.99.

Following Albert Einstein from babyhood to worldwide acclaim, this inventively illustrated book provides a sense of his scientific breakthroughs and his love of comfortable clothes, ice cream and bike rides.

The Animal Book

by Steve Jenkins, 208 pages, ages 6 to 10, $21.99.

Combining fun facts (including the one about the horned lizard that squirts blood from its eyes) with vibrant illustrations, Steve Jenkins’s latest book reveals the amazing variety of the animal world.

Courage Has No Color

by Tanya Lee Stone, 160 pages, age 10 and older, $24.99.

Through anecdotes and photographs from the World War II era, readers get to know America’s first black paratroopers as they train for combat against both the Axis powers (Germany, Japan and Italy) and American forest fires. Stone’s book makes clear that courage has no color.

The Tapir Scientist: Saving South America’s Largest Mammal

by Sy Montgomery, 80 pages, age 10 and older, $18.99.

Based on a two-week expedition in South America, this fascinating book introduces readers to some of the world’s most unusual animals. The star of the show is the flexible-snouted tapir, whose babies look like four-legged watermelons.

The Beatles Were Fab (And They Were Funny)

by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer, 40 pages, ages 6 to 9, $16.99.

Here’s a lively version of how the Beatles formed and how they coped with their worldwide fame. Full of bright images, it’s a tribute to the infectious music they made and the quick wits they revealed.

Abby Nolan

Picture books

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

by Peter Brown, 48 pages, ages 3 to 6, $18.

When top-hatted, suit-coated Mr. Tiger drops down onto all fours, young readers will understand at once what’s happening. When he sheds everything but his stripes, others suggest, “If you must act wild, kindly do so in the WILDERNESS!” So Mr. Tiger runs away. When he finally comes home, the city has changed.

The Dark

by Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen, 40 pages, ages 3 to 6, $16.99.

“Laszlo was afraid of the dark,” this book begins. What makes this book stand out above other books on childhood fears is the fact that Laszlo negotiates directly with the living, breathing dark — and comes to terms with it in a way that children will understand.


Brian Floca, 64 pages, ages 7 to 10, $17.99.

Author-illustrator Brian Floca weaves a poetic text and dramatic illustrations into an appealing narrative, providing young readers with both factual information about early train travel and a real sense of what it must have been like to climb aboard an iron horse in 1869.

Kristi Elle Jemtegaard