Christmas 2017 will soon be here. Outlined below are descriptions of some of the best books for, and about the magic of, Christmas. The first six books are good for ages seven and up but are also wonderful to read-out-loud for all family members to enjoy. The rest are picture books – good for ages three through eight except for the last book. The last book is an early chapter book and is good for ages six through eight.
Harry Potter: A Journal Through a History of Magic is a companion to the Britain Library exhibition which opened recently in London. This exhibit is scheduled to come to the New York Historical Society next October. Be prepared to be amazed as you pour over every page packed to the brim with unseen manuscript pages and sketches rendered by J. K. Rowling. There are treasures found from all around the world along with Rowling’s inspiration to create the Philosopher’s Stone, magical wands and fire-breathing dragons. The illustrations are colorful and the entire book is simply magical!
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The Illustrated Edition Book 3, spectacularly illustrated with vivid color by Jim Kay, is a large over-sized book filled with images of some of the greatest action that takes place. Every page has either a full page or open-page illustration, or drawings that share the page with the text. Some of the pages have exquisite patterns that fall over the entire page and one page even has a spider-web pattern featuring Aragog. This book is a prize for the Harry Potter lover.
Hogwarts Library has three books included in this boxed set. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which delves into Newt Scamander’s master work on magical creatures. Quidditch Through the Ages is a complete history of this fascinating game. And, The Tales of Beetle the Bard is a collection of well-known stories written specifically for young wizards.
The Nutcracker Mice, by Kristin Kladstrup, and with wonderful black and white illustrations done with oil and acrylic sprinklers throughout by Brett Helquist, is a magical adventure that begs to be read-out-loud. This well-written adventure will keep your seven through eleven-year-old captive as these determined and courageous mice are about to perform their ballet against all odds. Chances are that after reading this inventive story, your youngster will have a greater understanding of the Nutcracker story, as well as the composer.
Top Elf, by Caleb Zane Huett, is a delightful story about who will be the next Santa. Mr. Claus has decided he won’t be Santa anymore and has opened the possibility to elves. But who can pass all of the tests which include squeezing through tight chimneys and consuming mountains of cookies? This story is pure fun!
The Wonderling, by Mira Bartok, hales back to a Dickensian era of orphans and hard labor. Arthur is a one-eared foxlike animal who is an orphan and has a long title to hope for. But as the story progresses music becomes one of the healing remedies for his happiness. This beautifully written story, with nicely drawn etchings made with ink, gouache and graphite sprinkled throughout, is fully uplifting and full of heart!
Once There Was a Story, by Jane Yolen, and charmingly illustrated by rendering in gouache and colored pencils by Jane Dyer, is a book rich with stories perfect for bedtime for ages three through eight. The stories chosen by Ms. Yolen are quick reads, abundant with imagination and inspiring characters. Some of the stories are well known and others are not. These include: The Gingerbread Man, The Mean Tiger and The Hare and The Golden Goose. This book is perfect for ages four through eight.
Love, Santa, (The Beautiful Truth about Santa), by Martha Brockenbrough, and painted with watercolor and mixed media by Lee White, is told through a series of letters. The letters are back and forth between a young girl and Santa. But eventually as the girl grows older, she asks mom about Santa and the reality of him. This is a delightful book to help children as they transition with this concept as they age.
The Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore, and gorgeously painted by Antonio Javier Caparo, is the classic story of Santa coming with his reindeer. This version has stunning pictures of this special night with the colorful pictures filling the page and many times with an open-spread page.
Santa Calls, by William Joyce, is a reissue that was first published back in 1993. This beautifully illustrated and over-sized book which was vividly painted with acrylic, takes place at the North Pole where three kids venture to help Santa ward off evil elves.
The Flying Squirrel Stowaways, by Marijke Simons, is a story about an adventure of two flying squirrels. When their large and beautiful tree has been chosen for Boston’s downtown, they are in their tree as it travels from Nova Scotia to Massachusetts. They are in for quite a surprise. The illustrations are bright, especially the double-page picture of the entire tree lit up
A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa’s Tasty Trip Around the World, by M. E. Furman, and brightly illustrated with charcoal on paper and digital collage by Susan Gal, is an enlightening and tasty trip throughout the world as you discover the tasty treats that await Santa when he visits households. There is a map of where these treats come from on the end-pages as well as recipes found at the back.
Christmas Stories, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, is a newly repackaged edition that includes new black and white illustrations. This collection of Christmas stories is all adapted from the author’s Little House Books. The stories are rich with this season and the food, visits from friends and more memories from Laura. The book is small and reminiscent of days long gone.