2022 Holiday Book Guide with Hannah

Books are the perfect gifts for the special people in your lives. This year's gift guide was created by Hannah Oxley, the Children’s Book Buyer at Mystery to Me Bookstore in Madison, Wisconsin.

You can find these books in their store or order them online. For more great recommendations, check out their 2022 Holiday Catalog. You can also find our 2021 gift guide here.


Lastly, we recently kicked off our third annual Community Book Drive. Learn more about how to get involved here. Please join us in sharing the magic of reading with children across Dane County this season!


Picture Books (Ages 3-7)
I’m a Unicorn by Helen Yoon

What’s cuter than a calf with one horn? A calf with one horn WHO THINKS HE’S A UNICORN. All his life, this little calf has believed himself to be one thing: a magical, majestic unicorn. Until he meets an actual unicorn…and his world is turned upside down.

Finding Fire by Logan S. Kline

Are you looking for a heartfelt picture of bravery, healthy masculinity, and friendship? Look no further than this book. In this wordless picture book, a young “caveboy” volunteers to go out into the wild to find and bring it back for his family. Along his journey, he meets a young woolly mammoth, and the two embark on a trek you’ll not soon forget. So much empathy. So much courage.

Will We Always Hold Hands? by Christopher Cheng and Stephen Michael King

If you loved Winnie the Pooh growing up, you’ll love Will We Always Hold Hands? by Christopher Cheng and Stephen Michael King


Holy nostalgia, from the illustrations to the sentiments, this picture book brings readers straight back to the days their parents and grandparents read them tales from the Hundred Acre Wood. This is a story about unconditional love and growing up.


Chapter Books (Ages 5-9)
The Bad Guys in the Others?! (The Bad Guys #16) by Aaron Blabey

The Bad Guys are back! And things are getting weird. Like weirder than all the stuff that’s already happened in the series. There’s an over-sharing bats, a guy with a mullet, and a really creepy character who lives in the woods. If you haven’t started this series yet, it’s a great gift for fans of Dog Man and Captain Underpants.

Nina Soni, Snow Spy by Kashmira Sheth

With a long weekend and lots of snow on the way, Nina Soni is ready for some action-packed winter fun with some family friends, but when she notices some strange happenings at her neighbor’s house (whom she knows is out of town this weekend), she decides it’s time to be a Snow Spy. After all, someone has to get to the bottom of things, so why not Nina?

Quest Kids and the Dragon Pants of Gold by Mark Leiknes

This highly illustrated chapter book is perfect for readers who devoured The Bad Guys, Dog Man, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. A wizard-in-training, a 700-year-old elf, a rock troll…? Buckle up and get ready to meet the zaniest, funniest kids as they go on their very first quest. The task? Find the Golden-Fleeced Rage Beast, shave it, and use its fleece to craft a fashionable tracksuit.


Middle-Grade (Ages 9+)
Amari and the Great Game by B. B. Alston

This sequel has been LONG awaited by everyone who had the pleasure of reading Amari and the Night Brothers. Picking up after some very exciting events (and shocking revelations) in book one, Amari’s first summer as a Junior Agent is turned upside down after she declines an offer from the secretive League of Magicians and new authorities come to power. I highly recommend gifting books one and two to any readers who loved Harry Potter, The Keeper of the Lost Cities, and Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

Northwind by Gary Paulsen

If you liked Hatchet, you’ll love…Northwind by Gary Paulsen


In Northwind, readers follow Leif as he flees the plague striking the small fishing village he’s lived in all his life. He’s alone, he doesn’t know his destination, and he knows he’s going to face dangers unlike any he’s seen before.

Better Than We Found It: Conversations to Help Save the World by Fredrick Joseph and Porshe Joseph

For the future activists, the question-askers, and the readers who are all around curious about the problems in this world (and how we can work to solve them). This book includes essays and interviews with experts about a variety of current issues. From the climate crisis to gun violence to racism, Frederick and Porshe Joseph provide insight, context, and action steps using language middle-grade readers can digest and reflect upon.


Young Adult (12+)
Bloodmarked by Tracey Deonn (Releases on Nov. 8)

Legendborn absolutely rocked the YA fantasy world with its debut in 2020 as we followed Bre through an eerie world of magic, secret societies, and Arthurian legend that left all of us MIND BLOWN after that ending! Don’t worry, no spoilers here…but if readers haven’t already read book one, gift them Legendborn and Bloodmarked this year!

Henry Hamlet’s Heart by Rhiannon Wilde

If you liked Red, White, and Royal Blue, you’ll like…Henry Hamlet’s Heart by Rhiannon Wilde


How to describe this book? It’s like bundling up in the coziest blanket, surrounding ourselves with our favorite people, and filling our hearts to the brim with ice cream and all the feels. Your heart will swell and break in time with Henry’s, and at the end, you’ll have a permanent place in your heart for his story. Fans of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe, and They Both Die at the End will also immediately fall in love with Henry.

Belittled Women by Amanda Sellet (Releases Nov. 22)

Whether you’ve read Little Women, watched the movies, or loved the musical (YES, there’s a musical version of Alcott’s beloved book), you will thoroughly enjoy this modern twist. Jo, Meg, and Bethamy’s mother is OBSESSED with Little Women (hence their names), and has had the brilliant idea of the girls dressing up and doing a little reenactment for the tourists. To put it lightly, Jo is sick of Little Women, but when their show catches the attention of an acclaimed photojournalist, she sees a way out. That is, of course, until said journalist’s son comes into the picture…


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