Maybe you have a someone on your present buying list who just happens to be from New York City. Maybe they might like to look at their home in a whole new way...and here are three 2008 books, all excellent reads in their own ways, that do just that.
Masterpiece by Elise Broach, is a lovely book about a young beetle who shares a New York apartment with a lonely boy. On his birthday, the boy gets a pen and ink set, but has no interest in drawing...not so the beetle, whose new found artistic talent leads not only to friendship with the boy, but to an exiting adventure in the dangerous world of art theft! For the younger reader (say, 6th grade-ish), this would make a lovely present, an even better one paired with a pen and ink set, with possible add-ons including a book of Old Master etchings, a promise of a trip to the local gallery, an original pen and ink sketch by Da Vinci, etc. Or perhaps a book about beetles!
Maybe you think you know Manhattan. But this book, by Scott Mebus, offers a New York that will knock your socks off, because it is filled with gods--hence the title, Gods of Manhattan! Small gods, like the God of the Good China, and big gods, like seventeenth-century Dutch governors, 19th-century socialites, and the spirits of the Native Americans, cruelly imprisoned as part of the plot of one particularly nasty divinity to take total control of the city...and standing against that evil god is a young boy, who can see things most kids can't. Like small warriors disguised as cockroaches. Great fun, and a very good one for the 12+ year old who likes action-packed fantasy.
Maybe you've wondered what New York City would be like if there were fewer people in it. Maybe, after you read this book--The Dead and the Gone, by Susan Beth Pfeffer, you will be glad for all the people whose shoulders you bump on your morning subway ride. Because (as the title, um, subtly hints at) most of the folks are not there anymore. Leaving one teenage boy struggling to look after his sisters and to stay alive in a post apocalyptic nightmare. This is a follow up to Life as We Knew It, but since it tells of different characters in a different place, it is a true stand alone. Not exactly festive reading (Young Adult rated, on account of death, disease, and destruction), but it should make your giftee appreciate having family, which is, after all, one of the points of the holiday season.
And here is a Free Wrapping Tip, Worthy of Martha Stewart, if I say so who shouldn't--you could use an old tourist map of the city, with an apple ornament tied festively to the ribbon! Or not.
All three of these books have been nominated for the Cybils in Science Fiction and Fantasy--please feel free to use the Amazon link thingy at right, to support these wonderful blog-given awards.