I wrote a blog full of Steinbeck, Kafka, Morrison, Atwood, Heller and angry despair yesterday, after the heartbreak of Tuesday night. I couldn't see my way clear to thinking about suitable Christmas presents for Auntie Morag or Wee Hamish.
Then last night, I realised that three books I had already bought and stashed away in the spare room for my real nieces and nephews this Christmas are essential stories.
1. The Day The Crayons Quit. by Drew Daywalt. (Ages 3-7) A great empathy primer and an introduction to the power of organised labour to bring about change.
2. Mother Bruce, by Ryan T Higgins. (Ages 5-8) An unconventional family (Mummy is a male bear and the kids are geese) full of love and laughter. Genuine out-loud laughs.
3. The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin. (Ages 0-3) A parent's wish for a new life - full of love, unbounded dreams and deep kindness.
4. I'm going to add Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, which I'll be tucking in a stocking or two this December. If you haven't read it, it's a brilliant, clarifying and readable account of contemporary American justice, with a lightbulb-moment analogy I won't spoil.