Be an angel this holiday season and give a new book purchased from Red Balloon to a St. Paul student in need. All month long, donated books will go to Reading Partners Twin Cities and SPPS's Project REACH, who will get those books into the hands of kids who need them.
The ABC Group: Best Books for Young Readers 2019 Holiday Catalog
Gift ideas for the young readers in your life!
2019 MIBA Holiday Catalog
Check out our holiday catalog full of gift ideas for all ages!
Picture Books & Early Readers
The Bear and the Star
by Lola M. Schaefer, Bethanne Andersen (Illus.)

This beautiful, wintry book is a wonderful addition to almost any holiday picture book shelf. It's full of hopeful imagery from many different sacred traditions along with a message of peace and inclusion. It's not so much a non-denominational winter holiday book, it's a multi-denominational winter holiday book! — Angela (RBB Staff)
Wild Honey from the Moon
by Kenneth Kraegel

One winter night, Mother Shrew's son Hugo falls ill. Consulting a medical book, she discovers that the only way to cure Hugo is for him to consume one teaspoon of wild honey from the moon. Thus begins Mother Shrew's journey to the moon where she encounters magical "night mares," sweet butterflies, evil queen bees, unhelpful owls, and unimaginable magic. This lusciously illustrated story reminds us that mothers will go to the ends of the earth--and beyond--to take care of their children. — Kelsie (RBB Staff)
What's Cooking at 10 Garden Street?
By Felicita Scala

“Something smells good at 10 Garden Street,” is how this book begins. And it’s not just some thing, it’s so many things! The pages are filled with colorful, gorgeous illustrations of the apartments at 10 Garden Street, the diverse neighbors who live in them and several simple recipes from culinary traditions around the world. This beautiful and rich celebration of the importance of good food, culture and community is a perfect gift for any family's bookshelf.    — Holly (RBB Staff)
The Shortest Day
by Susan Cooper, Carson Ellis (Illus.)

A beautiful celebration of the winter solstice! Carson Ellis's illustrations are a warm and wonderful compliment to Susan Cooper's lovely poem. I'm buying one for everybody! — Angela (RBB Staff)
Santa's Cookie Is Missing!
By Anne Passchier  (Illustrator)

Oh no! Santa’s cookie is missing! Die-cut circles lead us to possible locations. Could it be lost in the presents? Or in a giant snowball? Sparkles and shiny foil add to the festive nature of this holiday mystery and the playful ending will delight all. A fun, sweet holiday book for the youngest of readers. — Holly (RBB Staff)
Middle Grade
by Randy Cecil

A cute story with great illustrations about a movie theater mouse who accidentally ventures out into the wide world outside. In the face of terrifying beasts (cats), broom-wielding humans, and perilous rooftop climbs, can Douglas make her way back home to the safety of the cinema, where "popcorn [falls] like rain?" — Sarah (RBB Staff)
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky
By Kwame Mbalia

When Tristan creates a rip in the fabric of reality, he meets African American folk heroes and African gods in the world he falls into. Can they all work together to convince Anansi to weave the fabric back together before everything is destroyed? There are moments of thoughtfulness as Tristan's adventures help him to deal with the loss of his best friend, but mostly he plunges from one harrowing situation into the next, accompanied by Gum Baby, whose endless comments made me laugh out loud. — Joan (RBB Staff)
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe
by Carlos Hernandez

A great story about Sal—who has diabetes and a dead mom, is Cuban, is a smart aleck, and, oh yeah, can reach through the multiverse to conjure things in our world, no big deal. When he allegedly (and magically) puts a raw chicken in a mean girl’s locker, he catches the attention of Gabi—a smart, driven student council president, editor of the school paper, the owner of many excellent t-shirts and hair accessories, and a kid with one mom and a dozen dad figures (not all of them male). But as Sal and Gabi team up to explore Sal’s powers, they may be putting the stability of the entire universe at risk. Super hilarious and a delightful adventure! — Sarah (RBB Staff)
How I Became a Spy: A Mystery of WWII London
by Deborah Hopkinson

When three children in WWII-era London find a missing young woman’s diary, the last section of which is written in code, they end up in a high-stakes adventure to solve the mystery of her disappearance and what it means for the war effort. They’ll need to decipher the code—meeting all sorts of eccentric code crackers along the way—before a mysterious person mentioned in the diary compromises the D-Day invasion. A thrilling tale perfect for younger middle grade readers. — Sarah (RBB Staff)
Anya and the Dragon
by Sofiya Pasternack

Anya's family is the only Jewish one in her 10th century Eastern European town, and no one will let them forget it, including a prejudiced official who wants them gone. So a job offer from a visiting magician—help him hunt the last dragon and get enough gold to save their family home—is a welcome opportunity. After all, everyone knows that dragons are cruel, ferocious creatures. But then the dragon saves Anya's life, and everything changes. A wonderful story of magic, friendship, and adventure. — Lily (RBB Staff)
Leading the Way: Women In Power
By Janet Howell, Theresa Howell, Kylie Akia (Illus.), Alexandra Bye (Illus.)

Come 2020, it will have been 100 years since women won the right to vote. With a forward by Hillary Rodham Clinton, this book featuring 50 women from various walks of life could not be more timely. There are those we know well (Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren), and those whose names are not as familiar (Lottie Shackelford and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen). Each one appears on a two-page spread with various symbols used to highlight their strengths (integrity, resourceful, persistence, empathy, and more). There are 30 additional women leaders listed at the end, along with an essay: "How to Stand UP, Speak Out, and Make a Difference." This is an inspiring read and also one suited for classroom discussion. And not only for girls/women, but for everyone! — Susan (RBB Staff)
Fearless Felines: 30 True Tales of Courageous Cats
by Kimberlie Hamilton

Meowgnificent cat facts for fans of felines! Short biographies of thirty pawsome historical cats are interspersed with cat trivia of all kinds—anatomy, behavior, mentions in literature, etc. Pawrticularly purrfect tails include Tama: Japan's Furriest Stationmaster, Beerbohm: Scene-Stealing Theater Cat, Pitoutchi: The Kitty Who Fooled the German Army, and Humphrey: Chief Mouser of the British Isles. This book will whisker you off your feet! — Lily (RBB Staff)
Before They Were Authors: Famous Writers as Kids
By Elizabeth Haidle

A fascinating survey of the various facts of writers' lives before they became famous. The stories are told in graphic form with panels highlighting each tidbit of information. The ten authors featured in this book are multicultural and range from the classic (Mark Twain and Beatrix Potter) to modern (J.K. Rowling and Gene Luen Yang). Within their stories are common threads like inspiration, creativity, and perseverance. Becoming a writer seems so otherworldly, but the stories illustrated in this book show that the most ordinary of people have found their way to becoming great storytellers. — Susan (RBB Staff)
Young Adult
Frankly in Love
by David Yoon

Yes, it is a YA romance, and no, I don't usually read YA romance, but I read this one and loved it! Korean American friends Frank and Joy come up with a scheme so they can date the people they know their parents will disapprove of. Through Frank we see how race and identity affect all his relationships--friends, parents, extended family, and romantic interests, all in an engaging and heartfelt story. — Joan (RBB Staff)
Courting Darkness
by Robin LaFevers

We are in the world of the assassin nuns from the Fair Assassins series. This is years later and Sybella and Genevieve, both nuns from St. Mortains, find themselves in the French court. Genevieve has been there so long she no longer knows why she is there, and who she is fighting for. Sybella comes along and must find Genevieve and save the newly crowned queen. Told in alternating perspectives, this is filled with intrigue, death and assassins. If you loved the Fair Assassins series you will enjoy being back in their world. — Julie (RBB Staff)
Patron Saints of Nothing
By Randy Ribay

A thoughtful, captivating story about culture, immigrant identity and the complexity of truth. This is a page-turner set in the current day Philippines and Duterte’s violent war on drugs is part of the context. You won’t be able to put this book down and then when you finish, you will want to tell everyone you know about it.   — Holly (RBB Staff)
Aurora Rising
by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff

As a fan of Kaufman & Kristoff's Illuminae Files , I had high expectations for this new series...and it did not disappoint. I loved this book! The multi-character POV gave each character a distinct voice that I really enjoyed. The story is fun and exciting, and you're rooting for them on each page. I devoured this book in a matter of hours. Bottom line: It's got great characters, there's a fantastic space adventure, and it's truly an awesome book! — Jaya (RBB Staff)
Little Weirds
by Jenny Slate

If you are a fan of Jenny Slate's comedy—including her new Netflix special—this book is for you! In one of the stories in Little Weirds , a fox puts its paw comfortingly on a woman's back. The whole book feels like that—uncanny, comforting, companionable, odd. The audiobook version (available from is even performed by Jenny herself!   — Lily (RBB Staff)
Miranda in Milan
by Katharine Duckett

I loved this queer, fem-positive sequel to The Tempest ! It's beautifully written. The female relationships really shine in this novelette. A quick, enjoyable read for a cozy afternoon with a cup of tea.   — Jaya (RBB Staff)
How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems
by Randall Munroe

If you've read any of Randall Munroe's other books—or his webcomic, xkcd —you won't even need to read the rest of this review to know you want to read this one. For the rest of you, welcome to the silliest science book, where you'll learn how to move your house using helicopters, build a pool out of cheese, and send a file using monarch butterflies, all illustrated with delightful comics. The audio, (available through, though it lacks the comics, is also delightful—it's read by Wil Wheaton!  — Lily (RBB Staff)
Red, White & Royal Blue
by Casey McQuiston

What happens when the president's son falls in love with his former nemesis: a member of the British royal family? Chaos, politics, secrecy, and the sweetest love letters! This book is perfect for anyone who's wishing for a fluffy romcom set in an alternate reality version of the 2016 election.  — Lily (RBB Staff)
More Books We Love
The Crayon's Christmas
By Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers (Illus.)

Christmas Is Coming!
By The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dragon Post
By Emma Yarlett

Stephen Biesty's Incredible Cross-Sections
By Stephen Biesty

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Illustrated Edition
By J.K. Rowling
Rat Rule 79: An Adventure
By Rivka Galchen, Elena Megalos (Illus.)

The Princess Who Flew with Dragons
By Stephanie Burgis

Dear Sweet Pea
By Julie Murphy

A Tale of Magic...
By Chris Colfer

Arlo Finch in the Lake of the Moon
By John August

Technically, You Started It
By Lana Wood Johnson

The Starless Sea
By Erin Morgenstern