Just like the Thanksgiving books, I wanted a record of the Christmas books we’d checked out of the library this year so next year we can re-find the winners and avoid the not-so-great options. If this list is helpful to anyone else, even better!
I was excited about this book because of the pop-up feature; anything 3D seems more exciting to me! And while it was quite artistic, it wasn’t really as cool as it sounds. All the popups are white paper (a couple have red on them, too) and Santa is questionable in more than one (creepy psycho in one; picking his nose in another). The very last page is incredible, though; a winter’s night scene with houses, cathedral, trees, bridge over a creek, and Santa and the reindeer disappearing from sight in the snowy sky.
Due partly to the fact that this was a very well-used library book, I was pretty unimpressed with this book. Half of the flaps and pop-ups were torn or completely gone; one ended up falling off while we had it and I had to tape it back on because it was barely hanging by a paper thread when we got it. The state of disrepair wasn’t the only thing that made this drop on my list of favourites. The other reasons I disliked the book was the story wasn’t very well-written, and the original design was flawed. If you’re going to make a lift-the-flap book, especially if you expect children to be lifting the flaps, you need to make the flaps easy for little fingers to pry open. These were a far cry from easy. Even I had a hard time getting them open and it was clear previous patrons had similar issues due to the ragged edges of the flaps.
This is a very unique book. The artwork is very European, styled after 12th- or 13th-century (I’m a little rusty on my art history) paintings. Every other page is a pull-open pop-up window, revealing a lovely scene, which is described in words straight from the Bible (a modern translation so it’s more easily understood by young readers). The alternating pages include something to move, such as a tab that opens the innkeeper’s window, or pulls the star across the sky in front of the wise men. It’s really a good quality coffee table Christmas book that Little Miss really enjoyed looking through. Everything was easy for her to do and the pictures were bright and interesting enough to hold her captive. It’s a short book, but it’s the simple (yet not so simple) story of the birth of Christ.
Not my favourite book, but one of Little Miss’ top choices every story time. The story of Jack, a young boy going through “just a stage” of being shy. He practices asking Santa for a fire engine but when he gets to the mall to talk to Santa, Santa is gone! By chance he bumps into him and discovers Santa is going through the same stage. Together they get brave and conquer their shyness. It’s a cute attempt at a story but it’s not really the best quality writing…and the fact that Jack’s parents insist it’s simply a “stage” he’ll pass through on his way to being the “obviously” preferable extrovert bothers me. There’s nothing wrong with being shy, and down-playing a child’s personality and fears by essentially telling him “you’ll get over it” doesn’t jive well with me. Maybe that’s because I have an a) introverted husband and a b) shy 3-year-old.
This is an adorable book. The artwork is super cute and the story is perfect for a preschooler. For some reason it’s never one of Little Miss’ first choices for story time, but I absolutely adore it. Little Bunny hears about something called “Christmas” from some chickadees but before he can ask them what it is, they fly away. He then proceeds to ask everybeast he sees if they know what Christmas is. None of them can define it, but they can describe an aspect of it (“as sweet as a mother’s love” and “as bright as a shining star”). Together the animals walk through the woods in search of Christmas until they find it at the end of the wood, in a small stable. The final image in this book has to be the most beautiful depiction of Baby Jesus I have ever seen. A truly beautiful baby.
Muckle the Elf has finally had enough of Santa’s Christmas Eve tardiness and creates the perfect solution: The Deliverator! The machine can do everything Santa does “sooner, faster, and better.” They test it against Santa and find that the Deliverator is actually faster…but is it actually better? It’s a cute story, though a bit wordy for a preschooler. The pictures aren’t that great, but that’s my picky adult opinion talking. I’d get this book again and I’d say it’s about at the middle of my list.
This is NOT a book for preschoolers. I almost got bored reading it and I’m nearly 30. After the first few pages Little Miss was squirming and not paying attention at all, so I ended up paraphrasing as best I could the rest of the book and she’s never looked at it again. A father and his two children take care of a lighthouse on an island and this is their first Christmas since their wife and mother has died.They have no money and can’t have a traditional Christmas this year. When their dad rescues a sailor from a storm one night, the kids decide to stay with their father and the sailor for the holiday, rather than go to the mainland to visit their aunt and uncle as planned. Choosing love and family over material holiday comforts, the children make the best of what they have and discover the true blessing of Christmas. It’s a sweet story but definitely shouldn’t be in the children’s section. It’s likely that the youngest kid who could really get into this story would be a 7-year-old.
With Latin-inspired artwork and a simple poem of rhyming couplets, this sweet book tells of the gifts the animals brought to welcome the Baby Jesus on Christmas night. The pages are fairly colourful but a bit dark, and there is “hidden” humour; on the page where the mouse brings some grass from its nest, an angel is holding the cat’s tail and telling it “no no” as it strains to pounce on the mouse. I’d definitely get this book again; it’s cute, it’s easy to read and understand, and the picture style is different from most American children’s books.
One of several in the “Duck & Goose”series, this is a bit young for a preschooler. It’s a board book and suitable for a 2-year-old or younger. While it’s fine to read it to an older child it’s not very interesting or engaging. The pictures are, however, very cute and colourfully eye-catching…but the story bothers me a little, too. Duck tells Goose it’s not time for snow angels or throwing snowballs or ice skating – it’s time for Christmas! I just don’t like the message – that Christmas can’t include those things, but it’s all about the tree and the presents (implied on the last page). This is likely not the message the author intended but it made me sad that Goose couldn’t do the fun things he wanted to do just because Duck didn’t think they were “Christmas” enough. An okay book, but definitely not on my “must-read” list.
The classic story, this time with words by the original author. Sadly, after reading this I can tell why the original version had only pictures. He’s a fantastic artist but a terrible story-writer. Many of the original panels are excluded and the story is essentially what I told when “reading” the original picture story to Little Miss (only less interesting – ha!).
The little girl in the red coat is looking for “an extra special gift for an extra special someone.” The Christmas Eve shopping crowd jostles her off the main road and she finds herself on deserted December Lane, “as dark and dreary as a winter without Christmas.” She is about to give up when she spots a brightly lit window she didn’t remember seeing before. Sure she can find something there, she enters the store…and watches as the other customer (wearing a red suit hidden by a large grey coat) buys every last toy and leaves her with nothing, once again. Before she leaves, the chief assistant at the store (with strangely pointy ears) tells her that “sometimes the best gifts are the ones that find us.” This is an incredible book in every respect. The writing is top-notch – beautiful imagery, perfect word choice, sometimes poetic word combinations – the pictures are a perfectly appropriate blend of grey and dreary and bright and cheerful, and the story is heartwarming. Definitely my favourite of the lot, and Little Miss’, too.