Book Reviews

25 Days – Book 19: Barney Wigglesworth And The Smallest Christmas Pageant

Day 19 of our Christmas picture book countdown. We are so close to Christmas! Today I bring a book from the 80s, but it is new to me. I wanted this book so badly as a kid, but never got it. I don’t know if there were any other Barney Wigglesworth fans out there. That series is still one of my favorites from my childhood. We had mostly Christian themed books in our home and, as I’ve bemoaned before, they don’t tend to be very good quality. Barney Wigglesworth is one of the series that breaks that stereotype. There are four total in the series. I had three growing up and my children adore them now. This Christmas I determined to see if I could find an inexpensive copy of that elusive fourth which just so happens to be the Christmas one. So here it is! Barney Wigglesworth and the Smallest Christmas Pageant by Elspeth Campbell Murphy, illustrated by Yakovetic, 1988.

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25 Days – Book 17: Arthur’s Christmas

Day 17 brings a different Arthur series book than I’ve previously posted. I’m a big fan of Marc Brown’s illustration work, my most favorite probably being his In New York book from 2014, but I’m biased towards NYC literature anyway. I also loved the Arthur television series when I was a kid. But I had never seen this Christmas book about that famed Arthur. I hunted it down via the library and to be perfectly honest, I was kind of meh about it… until the very end. It warmed my heart. Take a look at Arthur’s Christmas by Marc Brown, 1984.

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25 Days – Book 16: The Nutcracker in Harlem

Day 16 brings another new book this year that is a delightful reinvention of The Nutcracker. Set in Sugar Hill in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance, this familiar, yet completely new story is an amazing tribute to the classic while giving unique honor to the power of jazz on the American soul. Add this one to your shelves immediately: The Nutcracker in Harlem by T. E. McMorrow, illustrated by James Ransome, 2017.

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25 Days – Book 15: The 12 Days Of Christmas (Pizzoli)

Day 15 brings us a brand new book from a favorite picture book creator. You can never have too many counting books and at Christmas, a counting book is most likely in the form of this carol. This carol can be annoying. Really annoying when it gets stuck in your head. And if you really think about what the carol is talking about, what’s happening can actually be perceived as annoying too. Enter Greg Pizzoli and his hilarious animals with their simple exaggerated expressions. This book arrived just in time for the 2017 Christmas season and is here for your enjoyment today. Check out (and then go buy) The 12 Days of Christmas by Greg Pizzoli, 2017.

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25 Days – Book 14: Christmas Eve on Sesame Street

Day 14 brings another visit to Sesame Street, but this time on Christmas Eve. My girls and I first discovered this story via the narrated album. We actually love to listen to Sesame Street albums, particularly the stories. There is something hilarious, captivating and magical about the muppets telling famous or invented stories in their own quirky ways. And this Christmas story caught our ears and became quickly beloved last year. There are several songs sung by Bob and the rest of the gang that are delightful. (The book includes sheet music in the front and back.) The album is narrated by the ever elusive Santa Claus, a fact that is only revealed at the end (spoiler) and continues to delight my children every time! At some point, while we continued to listen to it on repeat, I looked it up and discovered it was actually a television special. We love watching that as well! And late in the season last year, I tracked this illustrated version of it down. You could say we love (are obsessed) with this story. Join us for Christmas Eve on Sesame Street created by Jon Stone, illustrated by Joe Mathieu, 1981.

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25 Days – Book 12: The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree

Day 12 brings a lovely tale of a Christmas tree for a family of beloved bears. I don’t know about your families, but around here there is a lot of love for the (vintage) Berenstain Bears. Most of our books are from the 70s and 80s and were my husbands. Our girls have taken a strong liking to them all on their own. I’m not sure if it is the size of the books, the familiarity of the characters, or the simplicity of the stories that has them so captivated. I was excited to track down this book last Christmas. It is a special holiday book based on the NBC-TV Christmas show (which we actually haven’t seen). Warm your heart and your spirit this season with The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain, 1980.

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25 Days – Book 11: Cranberry Christmas

Day 11 takes us to a cranberry bog with the smell of pine in the wind, and the frozen fresh water pond. Doing a quick check of the blog, I am shocked to realize that I never posted about Cranberry Thanksgiving here. I mentioned it in a storytime post, but considering it is a classic Thanksgiving holiday book for me, I feel remiss.

Cranberry Christmas is a part of the Cranberryport series by this husband and wife team. It is a silly and sweet story about the curmudgeonly Mr. Whiskers who is facing a gloomy holiday until Maggie and her grandmother help tidy up the house and solve the feud with his greedy neighbor. Enjoy the excitement of Cranberry Christmas by Wende and Harry Devlin, 1976.

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25 Days – Book 10: A Child’s Christmas in Wales (Ill. Schart Hyman)

Day 10 of our Christmas countdown is ending after a long Sunday. The Christmas preparation is starting to wear on me a bit and I’m taking a deep breath, hoping to make it through this coming last week of school before the holiday break. Somehow, this book always seems to find me when I’m too tired for the holiday. I wrote a long post about this story last year with illustrations by Chris Raschka. I just reread my post and have considered simply reposting it here as appropriate. Ha! I think I did an excellent job discussing the story in that post, so here I will talk about this version’s illustrations. It is my new favorite version of this book due completely to the illustrations. So come get lost in the art of A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas (1954) , illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, 1985.

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