Santa Claus Is Coming to the Bookstore

My four children were (are) avid readers. My eldest and youngest daughters favor fiction (I wonder where this comes from), while my second daughter and son (the baby) have always asked for “real stories.”

Page-turner nonfiction books used to be more challenging to find than novels. Not anymore.

Since the last days before Christmas are always too busy I’ll make it simple.

I selected two nonfiction books that really stood apart from the many I read over the last months.



For the kid who loves dinosaurs (I still have to meet one who didn’t go through this passionate phase), you can’t go wrong with You May Just Be a Dinosaur written by Heather Macht and illustrated by Jason Gillard.

This clever fun picture book introduces young children to the fascinating living creatures that inhabited earth in its earlier days, balancing true facts and great storytelling.

The author’s conversational voice, the factual sidebars about the different kind of dinosaurs and the illustrations that roar from the pages will delight children and please parents who want more from a picture book than “just a story.”

Parents’ Caution: This book has the potential to make bedtime story way longer…



Do you know a teenager who loves music and history (my son is this kind of guy)? Then Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad written by M.T. Anderson is an aboslute must.

This is the true story of the siege of Leningrad that started when Hitler’s army surrounded the city in the fall of 1941.

Two and a half years of bombardement and starvation, more than a million deaths.

This is the true story of composer Dmitri Shostakovich, caught between the Nazi occupation and the Soviet government.

During one of the most horrific sieges in Western history Shostakovisch wrote the Leningrad symphony to commemorate his fellow citizens, left unburied on the streets when nobody had the strength and the means for proper burials.

Perhaps because I was lucky enough to visit the USSR in the late 1980s I felt the constant presence of Leningrad and its people  when I read this extraordinary story. The power of music and human bravery beat through each page of the book. This is due, of course, to the award-winning author’s exceptional writing and research skills but moreover to his obvious equal passion for music, history, and humanity.

Above all, for me, this book is really a symphony to human resilence and defiance in the face of horror.

Hush, it’s one of my gifts for my son. Fortunately he doesn’t read his mother’s blog. By the way this book is also perfect for any adult on your list.


Of course if you have a special kid between little ones and teenagers, my novel Chronicles From Château Moines is not a bad idea, either.

Happy and Peaceful Holiday Season to each of you!

And don’t forget that Santa Claus Is Coming to that Bookstore near you.









  1. Great book ideas, Evelyne, thank you for sharing!

  2. Bev Broughton says:

    Good choices…thanks! Always listen to an expert!

  3. Both of these books look interesting but I’m really intrigued by Symphony for the City of the Dead- I think I’ll get a copy for myself
    I’m doing most of my shopping at the bookstore this year.
    By the way, my kids don’t read my blog either!

  4. Now that’s the test to see if he does read your blog in secret.
    Your recommendations do sound interesting even for adults (I was never interested by dinosaurs but loved your own book!)

  5. That sounds really interesting, for kids of adults. Thank you!

    • The book about the siege of Leningrad is amazing. It’s perfect in terms of content and writing. The research must have been extensive. The dinosaur one is well-written and the topic is always a hit with young children.

  6. I must have that dinosaur book! I read to my little guy every single day, and we’re going to run out of books soon and need to make a library trip. Great idea, Evelyne!

  7. The Shostakovich book sounds wonderful. I’ve read a few things about the siege of Leningrad and the USSR during WWII, but not about the symphony. And now I’m wondering if I might be a dinosaur . . .

    • I had also read about this period of time but never about the composer during that time either. My son knew his work and when I heard about the upcoming publication I knew I had to get that book. The author has written several other books and is one (in my humble opinion) of the very best in contemporary children and teens’ literature. I fell in love with his novel Feed back in the early 2000s but this one is another piece of art. And the picture book is adorable and smart. If you know a young child it’s a great gift. Thank you, Susanna, for stopping by.

  8. Happy holidays to you and to your family, Evelyne. I’ll definitely check out the second one or my daughter.


    • Merry Christmas to you and your family as well, Elizabeth. If your daughter loves history and music and a well-researched and beautifully told story, Symphony for the City of the Dead is a book for her. And for you too. Happy Holidays!

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