Wednesday, December 23, 2020

😷🎄Six Christmas Picture Books

I love holiday picture books and here are some that came out this year. And a Christmas story book always makes a great gift for your young readers. I always found they were the perfect calming Christmas Eve answer to all that excitement that begins to build up once Thanksgiving is over. Here are six we really enjoyed reading.
Christmas is Joy
written and illustrated by Emma Dodd
Templar Books, 2020, 24 pages 
Emma Dodd always writes such sweet, gentle books for the youngest readers and this one is no different. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. A doe and her young calf explore the meaning of Christmas while wandering through a wintery woodland as large sparkling snowflakes fall around them. The trees are also laden with shiny snow and bits of green peeking out, and there are snowy mountains in the distance. Mother and baby snuggle before setting off to find the rest of their reindeer family. The text is a gentle rhyme in four line stanzas, all beginning with Christmas is... and teaching baby reindeer the different meanings of Christmas - giving, family, happiness, kisses. In the end, warm and safe in her mother's embrace, baby learns that "Christmas is peace/ stars twinkling above/ a night of sweet dreams/ and a heart full of love." The digitally created illustrations use a minimum of color, lots of white and silver, and brown for the reindeer and there's even a bright green appearance of the aurora borealis. This is another tender, heartwarming Emma Dodd book. 

Jack and Santa by Mac Barnett,
illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
Viking BFYR, 2020, 80 pages
Santa has two lists - one is for good kids, the other is for the bad kids. Jack isn't too happy about discovering he is on Santa's naughty list. Jack has a list, too, a long wish list of all the things he wants for Christmas. But when Santa arrives, he get caught in the snare Jack has set for him. And when Jack takes and opens Santa's bag, he discovers gifts for Rex the dog, and for the lady Jack lives with, but nothing for him. He frees Santa and before he leaves, he gives Jack a small gift box. But, to Jack's disappointment, there's only a lump of coal in it. Can Jack redeem himself in Santa's eyes? This is really a fun book, in fact, I found myself laughing out loud an number of time. Also, I had an incredible craving for a grilled cheese sandwich after I read it - maybe you will, too. It's also perfect for beginning readers. The story is divided into four short chapters, the text is simple, words are repeated, and illustrations convey a lot of the humor that might otherwise be missed by a beginning reader. I read this book to my young readers, some of whom do not celebrate Christmas, but nevertheless, they found Jack's situation very funny. In fact, I've had requests for more Jack books. This is the 7th one, so fans of Jack will certainly appreciate his Santa problems, and newcomers will no doubt end up fans. Which is just what happened with my young readers. 

Ming's Christmas Wishes by Susan L. Gong,
illustrated by Masahiro Tateishi
Shadow Mountain, 2020, 49 pages
In 1930s California, Ming Gong, the oldest child of immigrants from China, has three wishes - to sing in the school choir, to have a Christmas tree, and to feel like she belongs somewhere. She's not Chinese enough at home and not American enough at school. But Ming's mother is adamant about not have a tree - it's just not Chinese. To break the tension, Ming's Pop says he will take Ming with him when he visits the Lins the next day. After a long truck ride, the two arrive at the shack where Uncle Lin and his father live, old friends of Pop's father. Ming listens to their stories about living in Hong Kong, visiting Yosemite and Canada, and surviving San Francisco's big earthquake, as she looks around at the carvings all around the house. Carvings, Ming learns, made out of pine trees for long life and strong character. When they leave, Pop takes Ming to a grove of sequoias and one with an altar in its hollow base. Here, Ming learns about her father's life when he first came to America and receives some good advice from him. Before they leave, they find a way for Ming to have a Christmas tree that will be true to her Chinese culture. This is a nice historical fiction picture book that is more about what it was like to be Chinese in America and Chinese culture. It reminds us that we are a nation of immigrants, all of whom brought traditions with them and combined them with those in their new home land, much the way Ming's tree does. I really liked this story, and the old-fashioned color palette used for the illustrations, but some of the adult faces were a drawn a little too harshly, I thought. This is a picture book will probably lead to some lively conversations about how Christmas is celebrated in different homes.   
Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Tort, 
illustrated by Jarvis
Candlewick Press, 2020, 40 pages
This book was issued a few years ago in an oversized edition. Now, here is the same story in a smaller version perfect for younger kids. Back in 2017, I wrote "the anticipatory excitement of picking out a Christmas tree, buying it, and taking it home to decorate is captured perfectly in this story about a family of four as they set off on their tree buying day. At home, the furniture is moved around, the trunk of the tree is trimmed to fit the stand, and the decorations are brought down from the attic. When everything is ready, the family hosts a decorating party, inviting all their friends to help trim the tree with bright lights, jolly Santas, dancing elves, paper dolls, all kinds of ornaments. Finally, it's time for the crowning touch - a shiny golden star at the very top. The story is told in rhyme with spot on four line stanzas on each page describing every task that needs to be done for the spectacular finished tree that can be the end. Jarvis's simple pencil, chalk, and paint illustrations are done in a wintery palette outside, and a warm, cozy palette inside the house, and include diverse characters throughout." This is sure to become a yearly classic for many families, after all, it was wonderful in 2017, and it still is - it's just smaller.

Mouse's Night Before Christmas by Tracey Corderoy,
illustrated by Sarah Massini
Nosy Crow, 2020, 32 pages
This story opens with those oh so familiar words "Twas the night before Christmas..." but this is Mouse's story and he is definitely stirring. Looking at the Christmas tree, and all the presents, lonely Mouse notices the star atop the tree and remembering that star wishes sometimes come true, he wishes had a friend to give gifts to and have fun with. Suddenly, there's lots of noise outside. Santa and his reindeer have gotten caught in a storm and lost their way. When Santa sees Mouse, he asks if it was his wish he had just heard that knocked him off course. Mouse, realizing Santa needs help, and knowing his way around the area, offers to be his guide so he can deliver all his toys. The two set off together, with Mouse having a great time in Santa's company and helping. But what about his wish? Santa hasn't forgotten and gives Mouse two pair of ice skates and a map with a path marked on it for Mouse to follow. "Will the path lead the way to my wish?" he asks, to which Santa replied "Why not see for yourself?" There's nothing like a little Christmas magic, and sure enough, Mouse's wish comes true, but not quite the friend I expected. This was a fun take on the original Clement Moore tale, told in the same rhyme and it never falters. The mixed-media illustrations are colorful with a very traditional feel. I read this to my young readers a number of times who loved it, especially since Mouse found a friend who had made the same wish that night. 

The Christmas Feast by Nathalie Dargent,
illustrated by Magali Le Huche
Eerdmans BFYR, 2020, 32 pages
Christmas is coming and burrowmates Fox, Weasel, and Wolf have decided they want a nice turkey dinner for their holiday feast. Clever Fox goes off to steal a turkey and brings back one that looks good. But when Turkey sees the mess in the burrow, she insists that they clean it up, and oversees the job they do. When dinner time arrives, Turkey wants to know what they made for her to eat. After all, don't they want to fatten her up before eating her? After dinner, the four of them play cards and have a great time. And so it goes on like this with Turkey making demands and Fox, Weasel, and Wolf complying until Christmas Eve. How are they going to cook her, Turkey wants to know and tells them that she would liked to be flambéed.  But the three friends have hemed and hawed about the idea of cooking Turkey because they really don't want to lose their new friend. Seeing their discomfort, Turkey suggests that they spend the next year fattening her up for a really great feast. And so year after year, the four friends renew this arrangement of fatten Turkey up for the next year's Christmas feast, living a happy life in a joyful burrow in the meantime. But, uh-oh! Take a close look at that last picture of Turkey sitting in her rocking chair and reading a cookbook. Don't you just love a trickster tale? Especially a Christmas trickster tale? I know I do and I just loved the dry humor of this story translated from the French and originally called Le Festin de Noël. The fun cartoon style illustrations are just delightfully perfect for this story and, I know it is going to be a holiday favorite in my house for years to come.   


No comments:

Post a Comment

Imagination Designs