Santa is set up in the local malls, and it’s time to think about picture books about Christmas. Here are eight books that celebrate Christmas and the winter season.
- “Little Babymouse and the Christmas Cupcakes” by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm will make everyone smile as Babymouse gets her first picture book. It’s about Babymouse when she’s four years old. Incorrigible as ever, she eats Santa’s cookies. Then she decides to make him special cupcakes. But while her mother is putting the baby to sleep, Babymouse must battle the fierce dragon. She then celebrates with a feast. Will there still be a cupcake for Santa? Told by a narrator who comments on the action and through the dialogue, kids will love this clever tale of a misbehaving Babymouse. (Random House Books for Young Readers)
- “The Christmas Boot” by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney is a lovely and touching picture book about a lonely woman named Hannah who has no one to talk to. She does her chores in the forest and talks to the forest and the trees, but no one answers. One day she finds a black boot in the snow. She puts it on over her rag-covered feet and it miraculously changes to fit her perfectly. That night, as she is going to sleep, she says to the one boot, “I only wish I had your mate.” The next morning the right boot is there to match the left boot. Hannah’s wishes come true and she gets mittens and a fancy house and feast. But when a man dressed in red shows up at the door missing a boot, she gives it back cheerfully. Everything she wished for disappears. “The boot didn’t belong to me, but I enjoyed it while it was here,” she says philosophically. When Santa (for that is who the red-suited visitor is) asks her what she most desires, her response is one that is worthy of discussion. This is a story that will be beloved by young readers and old. (Dial)
- “Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree” by Lori Nichols (Nancy Paulsen Books) is the fourth book in the ongoing story of two sisters, Maple and Willow. In this book, perfect for the holidays, Maple and Willow celebrate getting their very first Christmas tree. But when the family realizes that Maple is allergic to the tree, how will they celebrate without a beautiful tree? Willow manages to come up with an idea that saves not only Christmas, but Maple’s hurt feelings! Beautiful, simple illustrations bring the warmth of the holiday season into the pages of the story.
- “The Twelve Days of Christmas: A Peek-Through Picture Book” by Britta Teckentrup (Doubleday) is a lovely book celebrating the song by the same name. The clever peek-though is an arrangement whereby on the first day, the cut-out shows two elves looking through the opening at the partridge in the pear tree. On the next page, the same elves see the opening has enlarged to include the two turtle doves. The elves keep watching as each page brings a new peek into the song. Some openings are separate, some get larger, but it’s all beautifully done. Kids will enjoy turning page after page to spy new parts of the song.
- Young readers will enjoy “Santa’s Underwear” by Marty Rhodes Rigley and Marty Kelley (Sleeping Bear Press). What’s Santa to do when his favorite red long underwear — the ones he wears every Christmas Eve to deliver presents — goes missing? There is humor aplenty, and finally, Santa’s reindeer come through. Kids will enjoy the idea of Santa getting a gift that he truly needs from his trust reindeer.
- “The Nutcracker” is based on the New York City Ballet production of George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” and illustrated by Valeria Docampo (Little Simon). It’s a true retelling of the much loved ballet, and the text is perfect for reading aloud. The illustrations show the characters as actual dancers in the ballet, but not in a way that takes away from the story. This is a perfect choice for fairy tale lovers and to read to children who love the ballet (or who will be attending the ballet). Read it with the music playing in the background for a perfect storytelling experience!
- “The Lost Gift: A Christmas Story” by Kallie George and Stephanie Graegin (Schwartz & Wade) is the story of four forest animal friends who see a gift slip from Santa’s sleigh as he flies overhead on Christmas Eve. They find the gift which is addressed to the new baby at the farm. What to do? They decide to take the gift to the baby, even though it’s not easy for them to do it without arms to carry the gift. They cleverly manage to do it, even though it takes them hours. They are hungry, tired and cold when they finish their errand. But then they find a surprise of their own waiting for them!
- “Classic Children’s Tales” is a compilation of stories and rhymes by four of the greats. Randolph Caldecott, Edward Lear, Kate Greenaway and Beatrix Potter’s stories and illustrations fill this book. Children will love reading these classics, and parents will love the memories that reading these classics brings back. Perfect for cozy reading by a fireplace or while tucking little ones into bed, this is a great gift for the season. (Penguin Young Readers Group)
Please note: This is based on the final hardcover books provided by the publishers for review purposes.