Cozying up with a mug of hot chocolate, a plate of festive cookies, and some holiday stories…that’s a recipe for happy memories. Here are five new choices for your stack of books:
The Christmas Boot, written by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
published in 2016 by Dial Books for Young Readers
Award-winning artist Jerry Pinkney has richly-illustrated this magical Christmas tale. Open the book and be transported into a wintery wonderland, a heavily snow-laden forest, and an Old World mansion regally appointed for the holidays.
Hannah Greyweather is an elderly peasant woman whose gnarled, chilblained hands bear witness to the hard life she lives out of her rustic log cabin.
When she happens upon a large, jet-black, boot in the forest, fur trimmed, deliciously warm, her fortunes take a most surprising turn. Wishes start coming true with dizzifying amplitude!
That boot belongs to someone else, though — a crimson-coated stranger who appears at her cabin door one cold night. Hannah is an honest and generous soul. What will happen when she has to give up the boot?
This is a lovely tale, cram full of Christmas spirit, that you will thoroughly enjoy reading again and again with children ages 3 and up.
Walk This World at Christmastime, illustrated by Debbie Powell, written by Zanna Davidson and Mary Sebag-Montefiore
originally published in 2015; first U.S. edition 2016 by Big Picture Press, Candlewick
Christmas is a time of surprises, and this book packs oodles and oodles of surprises behind a myriad intriguing, tiny flaps.
We’re traveling around the world to see how people celebrate the season. Visit six continents, stopping in 32 countries, all vividly illustrated with so much punch, vivacity, and color. These pages are mesmerizing.
There are doors and windows galore to open, each holding a small picture and a brief sentence telling something about the local celebrations. Peek inside one and learn that, “in Kerala, India, star lanterns are made from colorful decorative paper and hung on poles.”
Or, in Nigeria, “the Christmas feast might include pounded yam, fried rice, jollof rice, and beef, goat, or lamb in a delicious stew.” Meet a Swedish tomte. Find out Santa’s postal code. Check out what’s for dessert in Australia.
You can blitz through the whole book, or try parceling out the numbered flaps to use as an advent calendar. That sounds a bit tricksy to me, but…maybe you have incredibly patient children! Ages 4 and up.
Presents Through the Window, written and illustrated by Taro Gomi; English translation by Tadashi Yoshida
originally published in 1983 in Japan; first U.S. edition 2016 by Chronicle Books
Beloved Japanese illustrator Taro Gomi created this juicy treat over 30 years ago and it’s as fresh as ever! Just look at that contemporary design!
Santa has arrived in his helicopter. He’s dressed in cozy, electric pink with a darling white pompom on his cap and a bundle of goodies slung over his back. Santa zips from house to house, peeking through the windows to see who lives there so he can lob in the perfect gift. And we get to peek, too! Such fun.
Santa thinks he spies a zebra through this window…
Slight problem, though. Santa’s window-peering is not quite enough to see who really lives there. Thus his gifts are quite a jumble!
…but it’s really three geese!
Preschoolers funny bones will be merrily tickled by the astonishing mix-ups and everyone’s heart will be warmed by the happy solution. A delight for ages 2 and up.
Gingerbread Christmas, written and illustrated by Jan Brett
published in 2016 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Any new Jan Brett book speaks for itself. This is the third of her gingerbread stories, all set in a picturesque Swiss mountain village. If you haven’t read the first one, Gingerbread Baby, which I reviewed here, I’d heartily recommend it. You don’t have to read these stories in order, but I think those who have already met Matti and his mischievous gingerbread child in their first adventure will enjoy this a teensy bit more.
As you can guess by the cover, this episode features a gingerbread band, plus some more quick-thinking on the part of that spunky Gingerbread Boy and Matti. I won’t spoil the surprise, but as with the other two books, there’s a splendid, giant, fold-out to wrap up the story. Definitely an ooh-ah moment. Soak in the detailed beauty of these illustrations with kids ages 3 and up.
The Biggest, Smallest Christmas Present, written and illustrated by Harriet Muncaster
published in 2016 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Clementine is a sweet, little girl. I mean, she is a really little girl. Smallest one in the world, with a matchbox for a bed and a teacup for a tub.
Life at this tiny size is happy enough for the most part, but sadly, Santa Claus just cannot seem to grasp how minute Clementine is, and keeps leaving her regular-sized presents. This does not work out well at all. Imagine plying a paintbrush the size of a small sapling, or wearing slippers fit for a giant.
Though Clementine thinks of many ingenuous ways to remind Santa of her diminutive stature, nothing seems to work. Until one message finally gets through. And just wait till you see what Santa thinks of! It’s the biggest, smallest Christmas present ever!
Thoroughly charming illustrations with plenty of peppermint-pink and spearmint-green set a perky, cheery tone from the sweet endpapers straight on through. This is a Christmas dream, especially for little girls, even if they’re not quite as little as Clementine. Ages 3 and up.
And P.S. if you like all things miniature, you will love Harriet’s blog, victoriastitch.blogspot.com where you’ll find more art like this!
There are gobs more Christmas titles for your holiday reading in my Subject Index under Holidays: Christmas.