Christmas time is a very special time to read magical stories to little ones. Here are some new picture books for all ages to help celebrate this wonderful season.
One Christmas Wish, by Katherine Rundell, and beautifully painted with ink and watercolor by Emily Sutton, is a sweet story that centers on a lonely boy. When his parents head to their workplaces on Christmas Eve, Theo is disappointed to be left with a new babysitter and not his favorite older sitter. After his new sitter falls asleep, he is surprised to find a toy tin soldier, an angel and a small rocking horse come to life. The adventures that await all four become learning experiences which display sweetness and kindness. The soldier, and a newly found princess doll, decide to stay near a manger scene to help protect Baby Jesus. And Theo discovers more the next morning. The colorful pictures extend across the double-page spreads.
Oliver Elephant, by Lou Peacock, and brightly painted with mixed media by Helen Stephens, showcases the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping. Youngster Noah is following his mommy while she pushes his little sister in a stroller in the mall. He is very glad he brought along his favorite stuffed animal, Oliver Elephant, to keep himself entertained as he feels all this shopping is most boring. But a catastrophe happens when he loses his toy. Thankfully, all works out when he finds it in a most surprising place.
The Broken Ornament, by Tony DiTerlizzi, is a tender story about a boy who learns a great lesson on Christmas Eve. Jack desires a larger Christmas tree so that more presents can be placed underneath it. And he wants more decorations. His mother responds, “This tree is just fine.” Jack quickly searches for more decorations and locates an old dusty box. When he opens it, he only sees one old glass ornament. He is very excited to hang it on the tree as his mother tells him, “Not that one.” Just as he hangs it, it falls and breaks. He soon realizes it was his great-grandmother’s ornament. But a tiny bit of magic awaits Jack as he learns the true meaning of Christmas. The full-page illustrations, completed with colored pencil and gouache, are rich in color and emotion.
Ecclesiastes, by Cynthia Rylant, is an illustrated account from the King James Version of the Bible. The first page begins with “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven”. On this first open-page spread, Rylant’s gorgeous color splashes across both pages with the rendering of a new day. The next page simply reads: “A time to be born” and showcases another open-page spread with a lone tree about to burst with new lime-colored leaves. Every page reflects this same double-page scene continuing the chapter with a simple sentence and earth’s beauty and life. Rylant’s breathtaking trademark illustrations were made with acrylic paint done on watercolor paper. Be sure to check out her “Nativity” and “Creation” books using this same format.
I Got the Christmas Spirit, by Connie Schofield-Morrison, and illustrated with resplendent color by husband Frank Morrison, showcases a young girl waking up to the Christmas season. All that she experiences is gloriously on display for us to revel in. She can hear the spirit of Christmas with the ringing of the bells as they “Ding Dong Ding” along with the music of choirs that touch the heart. Throughout the simple text the examples of the joy that Christmas brings is brought to the forefront. Each page is an open-page spread with the images so exact that you can almost feel the snowflakes falling gently down and smell the roasting chestnuts crackling in the heat. Onomatopoeia is found throughout.
The Polar Bear Wish, by Lori Evert, and photographed by Per Breiehagen, is an adventure that takes place near the North Pole. Young Anja and her cousin, Eric, are heading to the Christmas party on their dogsled. When a blizzard slows their travel to a stop, they pitch a tent for the night. They find a small lost polar bear cub, so they set out to locate the mom. This Nordic story, with wonderful photography, makes a perfect read out loud for this season.
A Christmas Advent Story, by Ivy Snow, and cleverly and brightly illustrated by Hannah Tolson, is a perfect countdown book in the frame of a story. Each page has one or two flaps to open signifying a number as you count closer to Christmas. Each page has a different open-page Christmas scene. Ice skating, sledding, Christmas shopping, wrapping presents and baking are some of the activities taking place as the countdown gets closer to the big day. Some of the pages include interactive questions that involve counting or locating specific items such as how many icicles are hanging from some pine trees. This book could easily become a favorite each Christmas.