In a recent post, I featured some of the many Christmas-themed books that I especially like. Here are a few more, some just fun, and others more profound.
Christmas Parade, by Sandra Boynton
For the littlest ones, fans of Sandra Boynton’s loveable hippos, cows, ducks, and other creatures, here is a simple, noisy, exuberant Christmas parade. As you “BOOM biddy BOOM biddy BOOM BOOM BOOM!” with the 15 hippos drumming, count the chickens with bassoons, ducks with trombones, one trumpet-playing Santa rhino, and all the others as they march along to the little pig’s house.
Santa’s Stuck, by Rhonda Gowler Greene (lexile: NA; AR book level: 2.0; 32 pp)
An age-old question: how DOES Santa get up and down those chimneys? Not always easily, it turns out, if he’s had too many sweets! In this fun cumulative tale, Santa gets stuck going back up. First the reindeer from the roof try pulling, then the family dog, cat, and kittens try to push from below. Finally it’s the little mouse who comes up with an ingenious solution for getting Santa out. The pictures are bright and fun, and the rhyming text fun to read aloud.
Where Did They Hide My Presents? Silly Dilly Christmas Songs, by Alan Katz (lexile: NA; AR book level: 4.2; 32 pp)
Your family will laugh out loud singing these very silly Christmas songs, set to the tunes of familiar carols. How about “At the Malls” (to the tune of “Deck the Halls”): “At the malls/ No parking spaces/ Ma ma ma ma ma/ Can’t we go home?” Or perhaps “We’re Caroling” (to the tune of “O Christmas Tree”): “”We’re caroling, we’re caroling / What do we do this stunt for? … I do not mean to be a pain / but it’s so cold I’ll freeze my brain.” The zany illustrations by David Catrow add to the fun. (You can see more Silly Dilly Song books I’ve reviewed here.)
On Angel Wings, by Michael Morpurgo (lexile: NA; AR book level: 4.4; 48 pp)
When the angels appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of the Savior, the Scriptures tell us they eagerly rushed to Bethlehem to see the baby. But who stayed with the sheep? Well, in this unique and warm complement to the Biblical story, it’s the youngest, of course, who is stuck with the job. Now as a grandfather recounting the story to his grandchildren, he tells how he lamented the unfairness of being left behind. But then the angel Gabriel returned, and secretly whisked him off to be the first to see and hold the baby Jesus. He was back with the sheep before the others returned, with his own special memories of that miraculous night. Simple, flowing pen and watercolor drawings by Quentin Blake (who illustrated many Roald Dahl works) fit the story. Well worth reading with the family on Christmas Eve.
Great Joy, by Kate DiCamillo (lexile:680; AR book level: 3.0; 32 pp)
From their apartment above the street, Frances can look down and see the organ grinder and his monkey on the corner, and sometimes, when it’s quiet, hear his music, sad and far away. As her mother is getting her costume ready for the Christmas pageant, though, Frances wonders where the man and his monkey go at night in the cold. So on the way to the church, Frances offers a simple, heartfelt invitation.
The final, wordless picture spread in the book captures something of what the angel meant when he announced so long ago that the tidings of great joy would be for “all people.” A beautiful, simply-told story, with superb pictures and a wonderful message.
On the funny side I can also recommend Dear Santa: The Letters of James B. Dobbins, by Bill Harley, and Three French Hens, by Margie Palatini. And one more touching historical Christmas tale, based on a true story from the author’s own family: An Orange for Frankie, by Patricia Polacco.