Book Reviews by Carrie Anne
December is here and at our house that means Christmas. As soon as the Santa Clause parade makes it’s way through town we start getting festive: the Christmas music starts, the decorations begin to go up, the dining room table is covered in Christmas crafts. December also means we can start reading those delightful Christmas stories on the bookshelf. If you’re looking to bring some Christmas into your reading routine, here are a few of my kids favourites:
Written and illustrated by Chris Raschka
Poem by E.E. Cummings
Published by Hyperion
2006 Caldecott Medal winner
Based on E.E. Cummings poem ‘Little Tree’, Chris Raschka recreates a beautiful tale about a little tree’s journey from little tree in the country to a wonderful Christmas tree in his own home in the city with his own family to love him. Rashka’s use of repetitive text gives the story a light, song-like read. The watercolour images with their dark black lines give the impression of stained glass windows and Santa appears here and there, showing how he’s played a part in fulfilling the little tree’s deepest Christmas wish. Even as a board book, my kids and I never tire of reading this wonderful story that’s both beautiful to read and to look at.
Written and illustrated by Eric Carle
Published by Philomel Books
Picture Book (2-6)
A farmer lives on a farm with his animals aptly named One, Two, Three, Four and Five. Christmas is almost here but no snow has come. As the farmer naps he dreams of being covered in a blanket of snow and that one-by-one his farm animals also get covered. When he wakes he is greeted by not dream snow, but real snow. This prompts him to prepare a wonderful Christmas surprise for his farm animals. Eric Carle’s colourful collage images you’ve come to expect in his books, fill the pages in Dream Snow. Kids will delight in revealing the farmer and his animals as they are hidden behind snow overlays. But the best part is the musical surprise the farmer prepares for the animals. My kids enjoy hearing the lovely chime at the end of the story.
Christmas ( The Christmas Book in Canada)
Written and illustrated by Dick Bruna
Published by Methuen Children’s Books
Picture Book (4-6)
A simple telling of the Christmas story. The rectangle shape of the book allows for nice wide scenes. The illustrations are simple and child like and focus on the main elements of the story; the pages aren’t cluttered by background images. While the illustrations fill the right hand pages, a few sentences on plane white paper grace the left hand pages. The sentences and story details are simple for young children to understand; the vocabulary too is keep simple. The original book comes with a punch out Christmas Crib scene. We have since lost the scene but the story is still one of our favourites.
Written by Lawrence David, illustrated by Delphine Durand
Published by Random House
Picture Book (4-8)
Peter Claus hopes to follow in his dad’s footsteps someday. But then he ended up on the naughty list. Peter doesn’t think the naughty list is fair. He takes his dad’s sleigh and gathers all the kids on the list and bring them to the North Pole to explain to Santa why they did some of the not so nice things. One-by-one Santa takes the kids home while listening to their tales. He agrees if the kids do one nice thing to make up for a naughty thing they still might find a gift under the Christmas tree. This is a great story that realizes it’s hard to be good all the time, but that doesn’t make them bad. ‘All people do naughty things once in a while. It can’t be helped,” Santa explained. “Saying you’re sorry is what matters most.”
Written by Charise Neugebauer, illustrated by Barbara Nascimbeni
Published by NorthSouth
Picture Book (4-8)
Timothy loves new toys but he never shares them with his friends. Christmas morning Santa didn’t leave Timothy a new toy, instead he left him the task of distributing all the presents to the other animals. At first Timothy was very upset, but with the help of his friend Humphry, Timothy realized Santa had given him the best gift ever: the gift of giving. I love Timothy’s need to have a new toy, any toy, thinking that’s what Christmas is all about. But when he gets to experience the joy he creates by giving gifts he realizes how unimportant things are compared to having friends. I like the letter correspondence in the book between Santa and Timothy too, as well as the bright pastal illustrations used throughout.
Carrie Anne is a regular contributor to No Time For Flash Cards, she is a mom of 3 and writer. You can find her every day at her blog Another day. Another though…or two.