The Gift of a Traveler by Wendy Matthews, illustrated by Robert Van Nutt (BridgeWater, $14.95) That rare commodity, a Christmas tale original and timeless. In turn-of-the-century Romania, a wolf offers a paw in friendship, and gypsies traffic in wishes come true.
Arthur: High King of Britain by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Michael Foreman (Harcourt Brace, $19.95) Tales "beyond the reach of time," in a soaring rendition of the epic story cycle.
On the Trail With Miss Pace by Sharon Phillips Denslow, illustrated by G. Brian Karas (Simon & Schuster, $15) A spunky schoolmarm's vacation on a dude ranch, saddled with two students who "stick to her like burrs." Despite her sidekicks, Miss Pace manages to find true love in a witty, winning send-up of one teacher's hard-won holiday.
Lucy's Summer by Donald Hall, illustrated by Michael McCurdy (Harcourt Brace, $15) The distinguished poet's evocation of one season in his own mother's childhood: the year is 1910, when New Hampshire farm dwellers shelled peas, picnicked in the sun and a girl made the journey to faraway Boston.
Kate Shelley: Bound for Legend by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Max Ginsburg (Dial, $14.99) On the night of a terrible deluge in 1881, a 15-year-old Iowa farmgirl crossed the slippery tracks of a 700-foot railroad bridge to guide a rescue party to the site of a train wreck. This re-creation of her exploits is based on contemporary accounts.
Mrs. Donald's Dog Bun and His Home Away from Home by William Maxwell, illustrated by James Stevenson (Knopf, $16) Indulging a predilection for blue shutters and overstuffed furniture, a "partly Boston bull, partly sheepdog, and partly Labrador" outfits his dream house, only to find that classy digs have their drawbacks. Uproarious for children; sophisticated and witty for their parents.
Any Bear Can Wear Glasses: The Spectacled Bear & Other Curious Creatures by Matthew and Thomas Long, illustrated by Sylvia Long (Chronicle, $14.95) Flying foxes to frilled lizards, a lively, informative bestiary, complete with habitat map and glossary. Junior naturalists will be taking their flashlights to bed to pore over this title.
Monster Beach by Betty Paraskevas, illustrated by Michael Paraskevas (Harcourt Brace, $15) It's not what you think: no scary apparitions here but, instead, a benevolent beastie who lives for rescue missions on the high seas. Certain to become a perennial favorite.
The Feather-Bed Journey by Paula Kurzband Feder, illustrated by Stacey Schuett (Albert Whitman, $15.95) One Hanukkah night, a girl and her mother, now safe in America, retrieve an heirloom. A memorable tale of loss and of some Poles who saved Jewish children.
Everglades by Jean Craighead George, illustrated by Wendell Minor (HarperCollins, $14.95) Roseate spoonbills to panthers, an excursion into a threatened world of unearthly beauties, with paintings from a master.