The Hippo


May 30, 2020








Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Illustrated Edition.

Hippo’s A-list gift guide

These books that were reviewed by Hippo reviewer Jennifer Graham in 2015 received a grade of A- or higher.
The Tsar of Love and Techno, Anthony Marra
Furiously Happy, Jenny Lawson
How Bad Do You Want It? Matt Fitzgerald
Massacre on the Merrimack, Jay Atkinson
The Heart Goes Last, Margaret Atwood
Did You Ever Have a Family, Bill Clegg
Skyfaring, Mark Vanhoenacker
Do No Harm, Dr. Henry Marsh
The Third Wife, Lisa Jewell
Bike Battles, James Longhurst
What Comes Next and How to Like It, Abigail Thomas
War on Morris, Steve Israel

Readers’ choice
Gift ideas for all kinds of book lovers


For kids

I have three nephews who love animals more then anything, and this year I’ll be giving them Grandmother Fish: a child’s first book of evolution by Jonathan Tweet, illustrated by Karen Lewis. Grandmother Fish explains the process of evolution in language simple enough for a preschooler with lovely, colorful illustrations of many stages of the evolutionary tree that led to humankind. The story concludes with a few pages of more detailed scientific information on evolution for parents and older siblings. — Marita Klements, Reference Librarian, Nashua Public Library
The three girls in my house are ages 7 and 8, and they’ve all asked for the new Dork Diaries book, Dork Diaries 10: Tales from a Not-So-Perfect Pet Sitter, by Rachel Renee Russell, as well as Ever After High: Once Upon a Pet: A Collection of Little Pet Stories by Suzanne Selfors (the newest book in that series, Fairy’s Got Talent, comes out Dec. 15). All three girls like the easyish-to-read chapter book format and the stories about the lives of school-aged girls (some of which are still, thankfully, a little above their heads). My 10-year-old son is still liking Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and the latest one is Old School. I might also get him the new Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Illustrated Edition, which seems to be such a hot gift idea that it’s currently out of stock on Amazon. — Meghan Siegler, Hippo managing editor
For young adults
The new so-weird-it’s-good series is The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, which takes a futuristic look at classical fairy tales like Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood. The books star a cast of female protagonists, led by a cyborg Cinderella, who must defeat Queen Levana, who rules over the moon and wants Earth next. The last in the series, Winter, was released in early November. The series is not incredibly deep and is sometimes goofy, but I found the audiobook easy to follow and super entertaining while driving and working out. — Kelly Sennott, Hippo books reporter
For nature lovers
Sometimes picture books are not just for kids. Using close-up photography, Into the Nest by Marie Read and Laura Erickson is a stunning book that takes a look at the family lives of more than 50 birds. From courting, to nest building, to the laying of eggs, the family lives of birds are fully documented until those little chicks leave the nest. Perfect for anyone who appreciate birds. — New Hampshire writer and blogger Wendy Thomas (Lessons Learned from the Flock,
A great gift for families, nature lovers, or lovers of literature this year is The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest that Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood by Kathryn Aalto. In writing the Winnie-the-Pooh stories and poems author A. A. Milne was inspired by Ashdown Forest, a free public access area in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Sussex, England. Aalto’s book is a guide to the wildlife of the Ashdown Forest, as well as its association with Milne’s life and his greatest literary creation. — Marita Klements
For history buffs
If someone were to ask me what book I want for Christmas this year, I’d pick SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard. Any history buff has heard of the founding of the Roman Empire, by the twins Romulus and Remus, and there are innumerable theories about the fall of the Roman Empire, but what happened in between? Mary Beard focuses on the rise of Rome. Unique in all history for the size and might of their empire, how did they get there?  — Marita Klements
For runners
For your friend or family member who’s a runner, get Born to Run (Knopf, May 2009) by Christopher McDougall. For this book, the journalist tracked down and wrote about a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners in Mexico, talking with scientists and running experts along the way. It’s informative and true but moves like a narrative, starting with a foot injury and ending with a race in the Copper Canyons. It also stars ultra-marathon superstar (and recent Appalachian Trail record-setter) Scott Jurek. McDougall’s no scientist, and some of the research is controversial, but it gives you new insight to the sport and makes you want to, yes, go out for a run. — Kelly Sennott
For foodies
Have someone who is a passionate locavore? The Food Activist Handbook (2015) by Ali Berlow is filled with tools and solutions to help you energize and organize your local food system in order to create better access to healthy food for everyone. It has enough tips and concrete steps for anyone to get started in making sure fresh food is available for all. — Wendy Thomas
Using artful photos, Amy Chaplin creates a cooking reference in two parts in At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen - Celebrating the Art of Eating Well. Part 1 covers the basics, what you should have in your pantry and how to create recipes like simple green salad with Tangy hemp seed dressing. Part 2 goes into more complex vegan and vegetarian recipes like Curried Socca with Cilantro Coconut Chutney. Filled with tons of “how to” information, this is a book that you’ll reference time and time again. — Wendy Thomas
For mystery fanatics
I wasn’t a fan of J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, but I do like her murder mystery books under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. This is another series I listened to in the car, courtesy of top-notch narrator Robert Glenister. The latest book, Career of Evil (Mulholland Books, Oct. 2015), concerns a Jack the Ripper-like case in which the protagonists, Detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant-turned-partner Robin Ellacott, are the would-be targets. Your best bet is to read the first two before this one; The Cuckoo’s Calling (Mulholland Books, April 2013) was OK, but my favorite was The Silkworm (Mulholland Books, April 2014), which centers around a couple of arrogant authors and a tainted publishing industry. Fair warning: not for people who can’t handle graphic content. — Kelly Sennott
For science geeks
Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs by Lisa Randall is a thorough but fun review of the latest knowledge and current understanding of the birth, growth and structure of the universe. Recommended for older science geeks who want to learn about dark matter knots and other stuff Isaac Asimov never dreamed of. — John Milton, Nashua Public Library 

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