Books are always a wonderful gift for children of all ages and usually a most welcome gift. These are a few recent additions to our bookshelves.

The Christmas Pig by J. K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Field is the story of Jack and his favorite toy, Dur Pig (DP). DP has always been there for Jack, but on a Christmas Eve, DP is lost. Jack and the Christmas Pig (a not-very-satisfactory replacement for DP) set out to find DP in the Land of the Lost. Magical things can happen on Christmas Eve, and along their way, they find help including a “winged thing called Hope.” The illustrations are wonderful, and Rowling is a powerful storyteller. The Christmas Pig is published in hardcover by Scholastic and retails for $24.99.

Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Life is a beautiful book written by Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan and illustrated by Angela Rizza and Daniel Long. It is visually very appealing and contains a wealth of information including many creatures that I had not heard of. Readers will see how the earliest life forms developed in water and much later plants and animals moved onto land. Readers will learn about what happened to dinosaurs and how mammals came to dominate our planet. At the end of the book, readers will learn about early human ancestors. At the end of the book, there is also a page devoted to some animals that are now extinct which should make us think carefully about animals that we know are identified as endangered species. Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Life is published in hardcover by Dorling Kindersley and retails for $19.99.

The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo, who is one of our favorite children’s authors, is the story of mysterious girl who appears in a pen with a very nasty goat and is found by Brother Edik of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing. She can’t remember much except her name, but the king’s men know who she is and are looking for her which puts the girl and the monks all at risk. It is a medieval story set in a time of war with a young girl who has more power than she knows. The Beatryce Prophecy is illustrated by Sophie Blackall who has illustrated some forty-five books and is a two-time Caldecott Medalist. The book is published in hardcover by Candlewick Press and retails for $19.99.

And finally, Pony by R.J. Palacio, author of the New York Times bestseller, Wonder. In the middle of the night, twelve-year-old Silas is awakened by three horsemen who take his father away. Silas is left alone and scared except for his companion, Mittenwool, who happens to be a ghost. Then a pony shows up at his door, and Silas knows he has to set out on a journey to find his father – “a journey that will ultimately connect him with his past and his future…” Pony is published in hardcover by Alfred A. Knopf and retails for $17.99.

All of these would be suitable for middle grade readers, but they also have something to offer to readers of any age.