Christmas Eve is finally here, and what would this countdown be without a Night Before Christmas book? Thankfully, the world of children’s literature never runs out of new illustrated versions of the famous poem. This is my newest vintage find for this particular day, and it is a good one. The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, pictures by Gyo Fujikawa, 1961.
Day 22 has arrived and with it a long, lovely picture book. There have been many illustrated versions of this picture book. I have two of them: one illustrated by one of my favorites, Adrienne Adams, and this one. This is the one that I have very specific memories of from childhood. I don’t remember owning this book. It must have been a favorite from the library. But I remember the pictures like I made them myself. They bring a flood of memories. And someone must have read me the story, or perhaps I could read for myself at the time; but this one leaves an impression on your heart. Come enjoy a story about wishing. This is The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden, pictures by Barbara Cooney, 1957/1985.
“Once there was this little child
You know her I believe
Here’s who she is me ELOISE
And it is Christmas Eve.”
Day 20 brings an old, tiny book from the Babar series. I really love tiny books. While I appreciate picture books in all their forms, I really think there is something special about tiny books. They match their audience perfectly – little hands, little books. I think Beatrix Potter really knew what she was doing with her classic, small books. I have a slowly building collection of tiny books, and while I would love to keep them pristine and precious; I really love to share them with my girls. They adore them. They carry them around, read them to their stuffed toys and dolls, collect them in bags… tiny books are so delightful.
I recently discovered a set of small Babar books. I have a love/hate relationship with Babar. I remember my first Babar book being a little paperback I earned from the reading program at my library. I loved that book, mostly because I earned it. And the anthropomorphized elephants were so fascinating. Babar stories tend to be very odd and have a questionable colonialism tone that has caused controversy over the years. This one ranks in the odd but cute and my three year old loves its simplicity. Take a (tiny) peek at Babar’s Christmas Tree by Laurent de Brunhoff, 1974.
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.
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.
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.