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Are you looking for some outstanding Christmas books for this special
season? Look no further, because I have the best and newest books for the
Holidays:
Let's start with the only fiction book on the list. "The Last Holiday
Concert", by award winner Andrew Clement, is a funny and touching book of
fiction for 8 to 12 year olds. Everything changes for 12-year-old Hart Evans
when he flips a rubber band at his chorus teacher. This begins a chain of
events that changes everything in the hearts and minds of every student
involved in the story. And Hart ends up becoming something he never wanted -
or imagined:  the new music director.
Are you're looking for a book that is a little different? How about a pop-up
book? "The Christmas Alphabet", by Robert Sabuda, is a step above all pop-up
books. Mr. Sabuda has mastered this type of book and has proven once again
that his books are beyond any pop-up book you've ever seen. Each letter
object represented twirls, turns or jumps out as you open its flap.
Another extraordinary book that is similar to the pop-up book is "The First
Noel: A Christmas Carousel", by Jan Pienkowski. Each page opens to reveal a
3 dimensional image. But even more surprising is the way you can open all
pages at the same time to make the entire book into a star. Both Sabuda's
and Pienkowski's books are like eye candy for all ages to enjoy.
Here are two books that represent this Christian celebration. "Room for a
Little One: A Christmas Tale", by Martin Waddell, is beautiful story about
how there's always room for one more as stray animals are welcomed into a
lowly barn by an ox and ultimately welcoming in Mary and Joseph as they
retire on the hay. The illustrations, by Jason Cockcroft, are beautifully
painted and completely cover each page.  "Pippin the Christmas Pig", by Jean
Little, is a sweet stable story about the importance of kindness and giving
in the true spirit of Christmas. Werner Zimmermann's illustrations are
wonderful, making this a perfect book for all ages.
"Shall I Knit You A Hat? A Christmas Yarn", by Kate Klise, and illustrated
by her sister M. Sarah Klise, is another great picture book about giving.
Little Rabbit has really gotten into the spirit by knitting everyone a warm
hat. But even better than the gift are the friendships that are made between
the characters.
"Bunny Christmas: A Family Celebration", by Rick Walton, will get anyone
into the spirit of Christmas. As the Bunny family gets ready for Christmas,
Paige Miglio fills every page with wonderful illustrations. By the end of
the book, there are many relatives helping the Bunny family enjoy the
season.
One of my favorite illustrators, Steven Kellogg, has a bright and brilliant
new book, "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town". Based on the lyrics of the famous
Christmas song, by Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie, Mr. Kellogg is the master
of filling his pictures with bold detail and imagination. Children, young
and old, will "hear" the music as the images almost jump off the page.
"Petunia's Christmas", by Roger Duvoisin, is a classic picture book recently
reissued about a goose that saves a gander from becoming the dinner during
Christmas. The book was first written in 1952 and has become much loved by
many. Here's your chance to own a perennial favorite.
"The Polar Express", by Chris Van Allsburg, comes with a wonderful
assortment that goes along with the movie. The collection includes the
picture book, CD from the movie, an audiotape of the book, and a small
golden bell. A nice set from one favorite book that seems to carry on from
one generation to the next.
And what is Christmas without caroling? The Metropolitan Museum of Art has
assembled "A Treasury of Christmas Songs". What makes this particular book
so outstanding is the tie-in of each carol with a classical painting. Each
song has a beautiful rendering from the museum and blends so well with the
carol you might think each inspired the other. The songs are arranged simply
and you'll find comments written about the song and / or the work of art.
And we can't mention this season without mentioning Hanukkah. Here are two
wonderful books celebrating this special Jewish Holiday, "One Candle", by
Eve Bunting, and wonderfully illustrated by K. Wendy Popp, is a picture book
about how a family celebrates this special holiday by remembering how their
grandma and great-aunt marked this day while in a German concentration camp.
And "Papa's Latkes", by Michelle Edwards and illustrated by Stacey Schuett,
is a sweet story about how a father and his two girls attempt to make their
first Chanukah latkes since mama died. The attempt proves their devout love
for each other will help them during this most difficult time.
So, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all!