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Published: Sunday, December 5, 2010, 12:01 a.m.

Stanwood bookstore suggests gift ideas

Snow Goose Bookstore recommendations include local favorites, national bestsellers

  • At Snow Goose Bookstore in Stanwood, Kristine Kaufman and Tom Bird greet customers with Christmas cheer and some excellent gift recommendations.

    Dan Bates / The Herald

    At Snow Goose Bookstore in Stanwood, Kristine Kaufman and Tom Bird greet customers with Christmas cheer and some excellent gift recommendations.

Books make excellent gifts.
They're not expensive, and they provide hours of enrichment. And, unlike so many other gifts, they can be used over and over.
Finding just the right book for the avid reader in your life isn't easy. That's why we paid a visit to one of Snohomish County's most cherished independent booksellers, the Snow Goose Bookstore in Stanwood.
Kristine Kaufman, 55, and her husband, Tom Bird, 65, have run the shop for 12 of its 30 years, and they know books, especially Kaufman, who has been a bookseller for 33 years.
Here's a look at the Camano Island couple's top gift book recommendations for 2010.
Nonfiction
Northwest Essentials: Cooking with Ingredients That Define a Region's Cuisine” by Greg Atkinson ($24.95)
Originally published in 1999, this guide to cooking local by chef and food expert Greg Atkinson of Bainbridge Island has been updated with colorful photos for the booming locavore movement.
“The recipes are fabulous,” Kaufman said. “Despite the fact that he is a big-name chef, they are not difficult.”
Masterpuppet Theatre: The World of Shakespeare at Your Fingertips” created by Michael Rogalski ($14.99)
This gift set comes with a deck of 60 finger-puppet cards featuring Shakespeare's most famous characters, such as Hamlet, Lady Macbeth and King Lear.
You also get 12 stand-up backdrops and a 96-page folio of classic scenes, such as Hamlet's “To Be or Not to Be” soliloquy and Romeo and Juliet's balcony encounter.
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption” by Lauren Hillenbrand ($27)
Hillenbrand, the best-selling author of “Seabiscuit,” shares the true story of Louis Zamperini, a juvenile delinquent-turned-Olympic runner-turned-Army hero.
It's a title to be filed under “The Greatest Generation,” a popular category among locals, Kaufman said.
“It's one of those hair-raising stories. It's hard to believe anyone could survive it,” she said. “This is what real endurance is.”
A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness — And a Trove of Letters — Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression” by Ted Gup ($25.95)
The gift is money, given during the Great Depression, to people who responded with their needs to a newspaper ad offering assistance. The secret is that the man doing this good deed was none other than Gup's own grandfather operating under a false name.
“My Reading Life” by Pat Conroy ($25)
The New York Times best-selling author of “The Prince of Tides” and numerous other popular books shares his stories of books and people who have shaped his life.
“Anyone who loves to read would love this book,” Kaufman said.
Fiction
“Heartbroke Bay” by Lynn D'Urso ($15)
A young English woman escapes her life as a maid in America by eloping with a man headed for Alaska's gold rush. Adventures and heartbreak ensue in D'Urso's dark debut novel.
“It's based on a real story,” Kaufman said. “It's a tough story in the end.”
“Bruno, Chief of Police” by Martin Walker ($14.95)
This is the first title in a mystery series set in a village in southern France, where food, and preparing it well, is as important as solving brutal murders.
“He's quite the gourmand,” Kaufman said of Bruno. “In these books, you get great descriptions of food and wine, which is always worth doing anyway.”
“The Distant Hours” by Kate Morton ($26)
A long-lost letter arrives and suddenly Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, where she finds the three spinster daughters of the late Raymond Blythe, a children's author. In the process, she discovers clues about her mother's secret past.
“This is a really good old-fashioned Gothic novel,” Kaufman said.
“Blind Your Ponies” by Stanley Gordon West ($14.95)
Originally self-published in 2001, this novel — about the small-town Montana adventures of English teacher and basketball coach — has been a sleeper hit in the Northwest for years, Kaufman said.
“He literally sold it by driving around to bookstores in the Northwest,” Kaufman said of the author.
Likened to “Hoosiers,” this is the book for those on your list who need an uplifting story.
Children
“Everything But the Horse” by Holly Hobbie ($16.99, for ages 4 to 8)
The revered children's book author shares recollections from her own childhood. Despite living in the country, she does not get the horse she wants.
This is the book, Kaufman said, for parents who are tired of explaining why a pet horse is not an option.
“It's a good lesson, softly told,” Kaufman said, adding that there is a nice surprise for Holly in the end.
“Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You” by Nancy Tillman ($16.99, for ages 4 to 8)
Letting your children know how much they are loved is a common children's book theme, but Tillman, the Portland-based author of “On the Night You Were Born,” has made it an art with this book's magical, photo-realistic drawings.
Kaufman said: “This is a perfect grandparent book.”
“A Bedtime for Bear” by Bonny Becker ($16.99, for ages 4 to 8)
When Mouse comes to spend the night, Bear isn't sure he will like having his bedtime routine disturbed by an overnight guest.
“Bear blows up,” Kaufman said. However, Becker, a Seattle writer, knows how to bring the two together.
“The Amazing Hummingbird Story of ‘Red' Rufous” by Craig and Joy Johnson ($9.95, for age 5 to adult)
The Whidbey Island-based Johnsons mix their passions for birding, writing, illustrating and photography to create the ultimate educational book on the Puget Sound's migratory hummingbirds, documenting the birds' life and journey from Whidbey to Mexico and back.
“Nancy and Plum” by Betty MacDonald ($15.99, for ages 9 to 12)
It's two orphaned sisters against the world on Christmas Eve. They find unforgettable characters — and unexpected kindness — in this classic story, originally published in 1952 by celebrated Northwest children's author Betty MacDonald.
“Good things happen to them,” Kaufman said.
“The Search for WondLa” by Tony DiTerlizza ($17.99, for ages 9 to 12)
Eva, 12, is human, but has always lived in a subterranean world dominated by mostly friendly robots. Then she finds out there is another human out there and the adventure begins.
Black and white illustrations, maps and even a robot-world alphabet make this book, a first in a trilogy from the author of “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” a true escape.
Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037, sjackson@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » BooksCamano IslandStanwoodLifestyle & Leisure

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