Special/Signature Issues » Family Style

Books for a winter day.

Let reading help fight the winter doldrums.

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Does your child have a special toy? Remember your special toy? If so, Anne Fine's "The Jamie and Angus Stories" (Candlewick Press $15.99), is the book for you. When preschooler Jamie spots the stuffed Highland bull in the toy-shop window, he knows they belong together. The six chapters in the book detail their everyday adventures: An almost disastrous washing experience, a visit from a young, lively uncle, a hospital stay and a babysitter's wedding. Illustrated with soft pencil drawings, this book's gentle humor should please its readers. For ages 8-10. A nice read-aloud for younger children.

In January we honor Martin Luther King Jr. King's ability to face fear and hatred with courage and love is an example needed for all times. Doreen Rappaport's "Martin's Big Words" (Hyperion Books $15.99), simply and poetically tells the story of Dr. King, using quotes from his writings and speeches. Illustrated by dramatic collages, this book will bring Dr. King's words alive for all readers 8 and up.

Laurence Yep uses a true story as the basis for his historical novel "When the Circus Came to Town" (Harper Collins $14.95). Ursula, a lively, fearless tomboy living in a small Western town, becomes reclusive and angry when a bout with smallpox disfigures her face. When her family hires Ah Sam, a cook from China, the two slowly become friends. Ah Sam patiently helps Ursula come out of her shell. The story culminates in a visit from his relatives — acrobats who put on a performance for the whole town. When a blizzard strands the acrobats, Ursula, her friends and the townsfolk band together to provide a Chinese New Year celebration in their honor. Lively action, down-to-earth characters and a truly heartwarming story make this a perfect book for a cold winter night. For ages 10 and up.

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