Reviews by Laura Madsen
As a follow-up to my post on favorite Halloween picture books for kids, here’s a list of great children’s Christmas books.
Dragon’s Merry Christmas, by Dav Pilkey (1991). This early reader is divided into four chapters following Dragon (a cheerful, blue, horned beast) as he makes preparations for the holiday. In “The Perfect Christmas Tree,” Dragon searches for the perfect tree, but once he finds it he can’t bear to cut it down, so decorates it where it stands. In “Merry Christmas, Dragon,” he buys himself some presents but gives them away to creatures in need: food for hungry raccoons, a coat for an elderly rhino, and a birdhouse for a pair of lovebirds. This sweet story teaches the importance of giving.
Olive, the Other Reindeer, by J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh (1997). Olive is a cute little terrier who mishears the song lyrics, “All of the other reindeer” as “Olive, the other reindeer.” She figures she is meant to go to the North Pole to join Santa’s reindeer. Santa and Comet aren’t sure why the small dog is there but give her a chance, and she saves the day by using her super-sniffer to guide the sleigh through the fog.
Snowmen at Christmas, by Caralyn Beuhner and Mark Beuhner (2005). In this gorgeously illustrated picture book, while people are asleep on Christmas Eve night, snowmen gather in the town square for dancing and tree-trimming. The snowy scenes glow with light and color, and each illustration has bonus hidden shapes for kids to find.
The Night Before the Night Before Christmas, by Natasha Wing and Mike Lester (2002). In this very funny riff on the classic poem, the narrator, a clever young girl, comments on the ironic, hectic preparations for a modern American holiday celebration. One of my favorite passages:
“Things will get better, I thought, as I crawled into bed.
Maybe visions of sugarplums will dance in my head.
Instead, I lay wondering, gazing up at the moon.
What on earth is a sugarplum? Is it a candy or prune?”
Everything is a disaster, as Mom gets the flu, Dad nearly falls off the ladder hanging lights, bulbs burn out, the cat knocks over the tree, and little brother pees on the mall Santa’s lap. Mom despairs that the holiday is ruined but Dad reminds her of the true meaning of Christmas:
“No, it’s not, sugarplum,
These things are just stuff.
Christmas is about love.
And we have quite enough.”
Have a happy holiday season from Bookshop Talk!