Originally published December 12, 2011 at 5:00 AM | Page modified December 13, 2011 at 8:21 AM

New kids' books: 12 days of a Washington Christmas and fairy tales for teens

Books by Northwest authors and illustrators for children and teens feature the story of a huggable porcupine, the search for Sasquatch and some fractured fairy tales for teens. Wrap them up now; read them by the fire with your favorite youngster later.

Special to The Seattle Times

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Books by Northwest authors and illustrators will entice shoppers looking for holiday gifts for children and teens. From darling picture books to a defense of Sasquatch to hot teen titles, these selections are sure to please young readers.

Young children

It's easy to hug a pig — "Just spread your arms out EXTRA big," explains Renton author Laurie Isop, but "How Do You Hug a Porcupine?" (Simon & Schuster, 32 pp., $15.99, ages 2-5). This rhyming picture book, with charmingly simple illustrations by Gwen Millward, shows children cuddling various creatures. The skeptical porcupine takes more convincing, but eventually makes friends — hugs included.

Seattle artist Margaret Chodos-Irvine, a 2004 Caldecott Honor winner for "Ella Sarah Gets Dressed," adds her bright mixed media print illustrations to "Light Up the Night" (Disney-Hyperion, 32 pp., $16.99, ages 3-7) by Jean Reidy. A boy's quilt becomes a spaceship as the cumulative rhyming verse soars from the galaxy to the Earth to the boy's town and street, "with friends I know and new ones to meet." Perfect for bedtime, the story celebrates a child's imagination but grounds it in the comfort of "my own little piece of the universe."

A visiting cousin experiences whales in Puget Sound, alpenhorns in Leavenworth and apples in Wenatchee while sightseeing in "The Twelve Days of Christmas in Washington" (Sterling, 36 pp., $12.95, ages 3-9) by Seattle author and illustrator John Abbott Nez. Young children will enjoy the local twist on the carol, while older readers can glean state facts.

Elementary school

Twelve-year-old Homer and his basset hound, Dog, who smells "kind of like a rancid corn chip," want to continue their search for a pirate's stash in "Smells Like Treasure" (Little, Brown, 408 pp., $15.99, ages 9-12), a new addition to Bainbridge Island author Suzanne Selfors' series (started with 2010's "Smells Like Dog"). First, however, Homer must win a seat in a secret adventurer society by competing against a former friend to solve clues and find a hidden token. Selfor's offbeat characters and affectionate humor will appeal to young mystery fans.

Washington state boasts the most Sasquatch sightings — 487, to be exact — so it seems right that a local author makes a case for the creature's existence in "In Search of Sasquatch" (Houghton Mifflin, 64 pp., $16.99, ages 10-13). Spokane author Kelly Milner Halls decided to focus on Bigfoot after working on 2006's "Tales of the Cryptids." She highlights Native American legends, interviews witnesses who claim to have seen Sasquatch and profiles a professor who studies footprints. Who better to bring a Sasquatch book than another mysterious visitor, Santa?


Olympia author Kiki Hamilton blends fey folk with Oliver Twist in "The Faerie Ring" (Tor Teen, 348 pp., $17.99, ages 13-16). Tiki, a pickpocket in 1871 London, will do anything to protect her small family of orphans, even if it means bartering with evil faeries over a magic ring she stole from Queen Victoria. With a little romance — Tiki isn't sure whether to trust a handsome fellow thief — and plenty of adventure, this romp will attract fantasy and historical fiction aficionados.

The richly complex world of "Daughter of Smoke & Bone" (Hatchette, 418 pp., $18.99, ages 15 and up) takes a while to set up — jetting as it does from Prague to Marrakech to Paris — but once they've fallen in, readers won't want to let go of Portland author Laini Taylor's newest novel. Blue hair isn't the oddest thing about 17-year-old art student Karou; she also collects teeth for her demon adoptive father, who boasts ram horns, claw feet and lion fur. Falling in love with an enemy seraph, she is forced to discover her role in the brutal war between angels and monsters.

Two young-adult novels won't be out until early January, but they are worth pre-ordering (stuff a printout of the book jacket into stockings). In "Cinder" (Feiwel and Friends, 400 pp., $17.99, ages 12-16, available Jan. 3), Tacoma author Marissa Meyer rocks the fractured fairy tale genre with a sci-fi twist on Cinderella. Cinder is considered property by her stepmother because she is a cyborg. There's a gorgeous prince, a mind-controlling queen, a deadly plague, and, of course, a ball — but don't expect a fairy godmother to pop up in this futuristic tale.

Accused of witchcraft and tortured, Tess endangers her two best friends; all three flee to the safety of "Dragonswood" (Dial, 403 pp., $17.99, ages 13-16, available Jan. 5). This medieval fantasy by Bellevue author Janet Lee Carey can be read on its own, but also stands as a companion novel to 2008's "Dragon's Keep." Both Tess and Garth, the thoughtful huntsman who helps protect them, hide secrets that might force them apart.

Stephanie Dunnewind, a former Seattle Times reporter, is an elementary-school librarian in Bothell.

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