These wonderful books will surely help satisfy the great anticipation of this best season of the year!
The First Christmas: A Changing-Picture Book, by Sophy Williams, is the retelling of Baby Jesus with clever flaps that open and change the pictures in an over-sized book. The illustrations are beautifully painted in soft pastels.
Christmas in the Time of Billy Lee, by Jerdine Nolen, and illustrated by Barry Moser, is a sweet story about Ellie and her three wishes for her struggling family. Her wishes, along with the beautiful paintings, evoke the magical aura of this well done story.
Great Joy, by Kate DiCamillo, and beautifully painted by Bagram Ibatoulline, is a simple but powerfully told story with pictures that evoke the emotions of compassion and charity. A young girl is about to perform in her church Christmas play but she’s been watching the organ grinder and his monkey outside her window through the many cold nights – and her concern grows. The atmospheric paintings induce this feeling of love and kindness.
The Christmas Giant, by Steve Light, is a bright little story about a giant and his little elf friend who make wrapping paper for Santa. When they are asked to grow a tree for Santa, problems ensue and they must work together to figure out how to solve their dilemma. A few of the pages have several pages with wordless pictures that cleverly move the story along. The ink, pen and pastel drawings give an old fashioned effect.
It’s Christmas, David!, by David Shannon, continues with the “David” picture books where David makes wrong choices by peeking at up-opened gifts and sneaking cookies and much more. The anticipation of all the trappings of Christmas has David getting caught making bad decisions. The Kindergarten-like drawings by the author add to the atmosphere of a young child and his decisions.
Little Tree, by E. E. Cummings, and illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray, is a reissue by the celebrated author about young siblings who find a small, bare tree in a tree lot and take it home to decorate. This beautifully painted story fills the reader with the true message of Christmas.
Christmas is Here, illustrated by Lauren Castillo, with words from the King James Bible, begins with a family coming upon a large crèche while walking down a street. Then only text begins by quoting from the Book of Matthew and illustrating the events of what happened when Baby Jesus was born. The watercolors and ink pictures fill each page.
Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas, by Julia Rawlinson, and brightly illustrated with pastels by Tiphanie Beeke, is a cute little story about Fletcher, a fox, who is worried about how Santa will find his new home. His little family just moved and he doesn’t think Santa knows where he now lives. But Christmas morning he discovers a nice surprise.
The next two books are geared for ages nine and up. The Christmas Genie, by Dan Gutman, tells of a meteorite crashing into a 5th grade classroom and a real genie appearing. But problems begin when the genie gives the class just one wish together and they can’t decide what that will be. This hilarious story is also very entertaining and great fun to read.
The Adventures of Santa Paws, by Nicholas Edwards, includes two stories in one. “Santa Paws” has this homeless puppy becoming a hero when he rescues a family from a burning building and also a child from drowning. “The Return of Santa Paws” has the puppy and his new owners flying to New England when the plane crashes in a remote wilderness. Both stories are definitely page-turners.
White Christmas, from the song written by Irving Berlin, and beautifully illustrated by Michael Hague, is a great celebration of this classic song. The attention to detail on the full page paintings are glorious and with the complete score located at the back.
Ivy Loves to Give, by Freya Blackwood, is the perfect book depicting the joy of giving. Young Ivy loves giving but must learn to give correctly and also learn how to receive honorably. The simple watercolors parallel the simple text giving a strong message of giving and receiving.
The Christmas Eve Ghost, by Shirley Hughes, teaches tolerance and acceptance. A widowed mother must work on Christmas Eve and tells her children not to go next door as they don’t belong to the same church. But the children get frightened and end up going to their neighbor’s house where they discover that the neighbor is kind and trusting. The ink and watercolors are a nice fit with the story.
And for baby, here are two small board books about Christmas. It’s Christmas Time!, by Salina Yoon, is a clever book with six interchangeable disks that you can take out of each page and slide into the next. The brightly colored, foil-covered disks help each page become an interactive and entertaining page.
Christmas Shapes, by Nancy Davis, has press-out pieces that toddlers can take out and put back as they turn the pages and see new basic shapes. The final pages fold out to double the size.