What a great time of the year to give books for gifts. Here is a collection of books about, and for, the Christmas season. The first four books are good for ages eight and older. The rest are picture books and are good for ages four to eight.
Charles Dickens: England’s Most Captivating Storyteller, by Catherine Wells-Cole, and beautifully illustrated and packed with fold-outs, envelopes, flaps and more by an assortment of illustrators, is a most interesting biography that will surely pull ages ten through adult into Dickens’ life. This over-sized book has double folded pages and a visual display of information that begs to be read. The life and accomplishments of the author who wrote the famous “A Christmas Carol”, along with many other well-known works, is written about in a most interesting way. Kids who are assigned to read and report on a biography, or adults interested in the life of Dickens, will thoroughly enjoy this book!
Franklin and Winston: A Christmas That Changed the World, by Douglas Wood, and painted in watercolors by Barry Moser, is a look into Churchill’s historic visit to the White House during the Christmas of 1941 just after Pear Harbor was attacked. The author writes about their quickly formed friendship and there are many famous quotes and references, referenced here during this critical time of history. These two great men embarked upon one of the most important alliances in American history, as America joined the Allied Forces. Many of Moser’s resplendent paintings are based on actual photographs from this historic event. Be sure to check out the Afterward and the Author’s Note found at the back of this picture book.
Jake, by Audrey Couloumbis, is the perfect read-aloud for this Christmas season! Ten-year-old Jake is having the worst Christmas holiday ever. His widowed mom has fallen and has to be in the hospital for a few days with a broken leg. Now his grandfather that he’s never known except through sparse phone calls comes to take care of him. This ex-military man (who was his father’s dad) doesn’t know how to relate to Jake and neither does Jake know how to reciprocate. But through the kindness of a neighbor, this relationship begins to grow. The story is well written with much heart, but is never too sappy. And the joys and love of family abound. The entire family will gather around to hear this novel!
The Carpenter’s Gift : A Christmas Tale About The Rockefeller Center Tree, by David Ruble, and beautifully painted by Jim LaMarche, is an interesting account of how the first Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center came to be. It’s 1931 and young Henry lives in the country where he helps his father cut down trees to sell in the city. After their long work day, they end up giving their last tree to the construction workers and together they turn it into a decorated Christmas tree. On Christmas morning, the workers bring Henry and his family building materials to build a new home. The owners of Rockefeller continue this tradition today. More information can be found at the back of this picture book.
Christmas in the Mouse House, by Maggie Kneen, is a delightful book full of flaps that lift and pop-ups throughout. Papa mouse tells his children to look for the hidden star ornaments that he and Mama mouse have hidden around the house. The last scene will bring smiles to all who read this cozy little book. The warm scenes are painted with watercolors that make this house a happy domain.
Can You See What I See? Toyland Express, by Walter Wick, is much like Wick’s successful other books that exemplify an “I Spy” type of display where you search for particular objects. But this story is a bit different in that it’s a story centered around a train. The rich, colorful photographs are on full pages and help make a fun experience on every page.
The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Jane Ray, is a beautiful rendition from the classic song. The setting is a large house in a busy city in the 1920’s as a young woman begins to receive gifts on a daily basis. The final spread has her true love bringing her a single rose. The colorful mixed media used on the paintings is found on each two-page spread. This book can be read or sung and is good for all ages.
Little Bunny and the Magic Christmas Tree, by David Martin, and painted with ink and water-colors by Valeri Gorbachev, celebrates the magic of Christmas Eve. Little Bunny is upset when he feels so small next to the rest of his family. But when he falls asleep under the tree, he finds that he’s the same size as the ornaments that have magically come alive. Be sure to check out the end pages that begins and ends the tale.
Santa Claus: The World’s Number One Toy Expert, by Marla Frazee and Clement C. Moore’s
T’ was The Night Before Christmas, illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith, are two books that have been made into a small size and packaged ready to mail. Both books come with addressable flaps and seals.
Oh, What A Christmas!, by Michael Garland, is about an adventure Santa’s never had during his flights on Christmas Eve. His reindeer head upward but his sleigh crashes into a barn and so he decides to use the barnyard critters to pull his sleigh. He is reunited with his reindeer after his work is done, but he has some special gifts for his newly acquired animals. The digitally made pictures are vibrant and rich.
When I Love You at Christmas, by David Bedford, and nicely and sparsely painted in ink and watercolors by Tamsin Ainslie, is a smallish size picture book that tells the culmination of what Christmas time is all about: love. It’s about a little girl preparing for Christmas as she wraps presents, decorates and bakes – and it’s all done in love.
Holly E. Newton, M. A.
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