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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Day 9 brings us a book of selected poems. This book is so incredibly lovely, I was quite surprised to realize I haven’t featured it before. It is a book about Christmas Eve. About a moment when, if all creatures were given human thought and speech, they might utter responses to welcome and comfort the baby Jesus in the manger. Allow yourself to wonder with Manger, poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Helen Cann, 2014.
Day 8 is a sweet book adapted from an old English carol. It is a story about the first Christmas as the animals await Mary and Joseph and their newborn baby. It is a unique version of the carol, with an expanded story and vibrant, unusual colors. Check out The Friendly Beasts by Laura Nelson Baker, illustrated by Nicolas Sidjakov, 1957.
Day 7 of the Christmas Picture Book Countdown! This summer I discovered the delightful series about Jesse Bear that begin in 1986 and ran through 2004. My three year old fell hard for that lovable bear and I swoon over the childhood favorite illustrator, Bruce Degen, and his fantastic backdrops and enchanted world around Jesse Bear. I’m slowly tracking down vintage copies of the series, and our most recent acquisition is this special Christmas story! I’m sure I’ll be talking more about this lovable bear in the near future, but let me start by sharing Where Is Christmas, Jesse Bear? by Nancy White Carlstrom, illustrated by Bruce Degen, 2000.