25 Days of Christmas in 2013

25 Days – Book 15: A Coyote Solstice Tale

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Today I am in the mood for a slightly odd Christmas story. Thankfully, a new book discovery fits the bill perfectly. Though not your typical Christmas literary fare, this Canadian winter tale is full of deadpan humor and an anti-consumerism message that will make you smile and warm your heart. Here’s a glimpse of A Coyote Solstice Tale by Thomas King, pictures by Gary Clement, 2009.

A Coyote Solstice Tale cover

I bookmarked this book a while ago with hopes that it would be special enough to add to my wintery, holiday reading. When it arrived, I was very surprised at its size considering it looks and feels much more like a chapter book. But fear not, it is a smart and clever picture book through and through, just in a more compact and perhaps manageable size even despite its added page length.

While the world is covered in wintery snow, Coyote is preparing for a feast with his friends. When a knock comes to his door, he is surprised to find a girl in a reindeer costume of sorts. He decides to be hospitable, despite the obvious awkwardness of communicating with a human who thinks she is a reindeer. Read the full post…

25 Days – Book 14: Silent Night, The Song And Its Story

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For this 14th day in our Christmas book journey, I bring a picture book about another famous Christmas song; but this time to share its history. Most people probably don’t even take note of the names that often now accompany the sheet music for “Silent Night,” but this is their – and its – humble tale. Here is Silent Night: The Song and Its Story by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Tim Ladwig, 1997.

Silent Night cover

It all began in a small town of Austria in the early 1800’s. The day was Christmas Eve and the tiny church was preparing for the special Mass when a big problem arose. The organ would not make a sound. Franz Gruber, the church organist, was downcast and the choir members disappointed in the waste of all their hard preparation. The distraught young minister, Father Joseph Mohr, frantically attempted to revise his sermon to fill the musical gap. As he pondered the special and wondrous Christmas story, he decided to try his hand at writing a simple song that would share the Nativity story in a beautiful and clearly understandable way. Read the full post…

25 Days – Book 13: The Bearer Of Gifts

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I’m so excited for this thirteenth day of December to share one of my new favorite Christmas books. I discovered this book just last week via a favorite blogger’s past Christmas list. I already adored and listed some of her other favorites too so I thought I’d check out a few new-to-me ones that she mentioned and see if I found some new stars. This 1998 Lapland tale that beautifully weaves the story of Santa Claus and the Nativity together has stolen my heart. I am profoundly smitten with it. Allow me to introduce you to The Bearer of Gifts by Kenneth Steven, pictures by Lily Moon (a.k.a. Tim Warnes), 1998.

The Bearer of Gifts cover

Because I am a big picture book nerd, I always check the colophon area of every book to see the date it was published, hopefully some information about the illustrations and so on. This book got me interested right off the bat with a historical note included that describes Christ’s birth, the tradition of Christmas gift-giving and the Santa stories, as well as important info about Lapland and its people.

This is all important for the tale that begins and ends with a lonely Lapland wood-carver who sold his carvings across the countryside on a sled pulled by reindeer. One night he is surprised by a new, brilliant star that seems to be inviting him to follow it to something strange and wonderful. He carves its likeness as he ponders it and then sets out to follow it when it began to move. Read the full post…

25 Days – Book 12: The Christmas Tree Book

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It’s the twelfth of December and my energy is waning. This holiday season goes so fast and so often furious! Thanks to books like this beautiful vintage gem for giving me a moment to slow down and just swoon. A lovely Golden Shape Book from 1966, I hunted for this one for months before securing a precious copy online. The clothes, the toys, the ornaments… every page is stunning in all its vintage glory. Take a peek at The Christmas Tree Book written and illustrated by Joe Kaufman in 1966.

Book 12: The Christmas Tree Book

If you aren’t familiar with Golden Shape Books, they are a treat to savor. According to The Little Golden Book Collector, they first started in 1964 and changed throughout the years in size and sturdiness. Official Golden Shape Books are labeled as such in some form and my definition of them would be small, mostly square paperback books in which all the pages are die-cut into a shape.

The text of this book always cracks me up in its simplicity, dated nature, and odd title. There is no story arc or climax to this little gem, just a simple explanation about things that happen around Christmas. Read the full post…

25 Days – Book 11: Little Santa

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Our book for today is a simple, silly, entertaining look at the big guy in red, when he was just a little guy in red. Here is a tale about the youngest of the Clauses and how he accumulated special reindeer, met those handy little elves, saved his family from a blizzard, and eventually didn’t migrate to Florida with the rest of his warm weathered loved ones. This is Jon Agee entertainment called Little Santa, 2013.

Little Santa by Jon Agee

The story begins with Mr. and Mrs. Claus unhappily living at the North Pole with their seven children. They hate the rough, wintery life and all determine to move to the sunny state of Florida. All except for the youngest, little Santa. He loves everything about the North Pole and is miserable about leaving. Read the full post…

25 Days – Book 10: What’s Cooking, Jamela?

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For the tenth day in our Christmas book countdown, I bring you some South African Christmas celebration! It is a warm weather holiday filled with family, good food, a bit of chaos and an interesting friendship between a girl and her chicken. Let’s talk about What’s Cooking, Jamela? by Niki Daly, 2001.

What's Cooking, Jamela? cover

This is the kind of book that I greatly love: one that introduces me to culture very different from my own, is an entertaining story with great illustrations, and also surprises me with a heart-warming tale with a bit of silliness. It is odd to read of a warm-weather Christmas, as my own are nearly always very cold and often snowy. A good portion of picture books present cold Yuletides as well, so Jamela’s tale is a welcome change to my literary fare. Read the full post…

25 Days – Book 9: The Smallest Gift Of Christmas

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Today I have the delight of sharing Peter H. Reynolds newest book created especially for this season and most importantly this materialistic time of year. The Smallest Gift of Christmas is a fun, poignant reminder that the tiniest gift just might be the biggest and even that the best gifts are sometimes the things we already have.

Book 9: The Smallest Gift of Christmas

This is a story about Roland who is incredibly eager for Christmas Day. His anticipation is so great that you can just feel the immense deflation when he runs downstairs on Christmas to find a tiny little gift with his name on it. “It was the smallest gift he had ever seen.” Read the full post…

25 Days – Book 8: Jingle Bells

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Starting week two in our Christmas picture book advent, let’s look at a short and lovely Golden Book. Taking the classic Christmas song of “Jingle Bells,” this little gem adds a story about a group of merry animals in their one-horse open sleigh who stumble upon the great Santa Claus himself stranded and in need of help on a cold Christmas Eve. A fun tale woven by Kathleen N. Daly and darling illustrations by the wonderful J. P. Miller, this is Jingle Bells a Little Golden Book from 1964.

25 Days, Book 8 Jingle Bells

The Bear family starts off the Christmas Eve adventure by dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh. The text continues with a mixture of song lyrics in bold red text combined with a finishing statement that carries the story along. Read the full post…

25 Days – Book 7: Kangaroo For Christmas

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My book for today is a gorgeous reprint of a 1962 fantastic story by James Flora. It is the tale of a large package from an uncle containing a lovely kangaroo that gets just a little too nervous and causes havoc for a little girl and her family. Catch the fun with Kangaroo For Christmas by James Flora, from 1962 and now 2011.

25 Days, Book 7: Kangaroo For Christmas

Kathryn opens the door to the mail truck one day to discover a package from dear Uncle Dingo. She is thrilled to unveil not a large cat, but actually a lovely kangaroo. Despite it bouncing around the house and tearing up the room with its excitement, she does what any normal girl would do… call it Adelaide, comb its fur, and take it to see Grandma. The trip however becomes quite treacherous as poor Adelaide is not prepared for the noise and chaos of the outside world. Kathryn has to hang on and attempt to coax Adelaide to calm down and behave like a lady. Read the full post…

25 Days – Book 6: A Christmas Carol

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For this sixth day in our Christmas picture book advent, I bring yet another of the fabulous BabyLit books. I just cannot get enough of these! For a perfect, short Christmas reading, Adams and Oliver have taken Dickens’ iconic tale and created a colors primer. It is both a clever way to introduce little ones to a classic, and also a genuinely fun look at colors. Color books abound as any parent well knows, but this one will have you grinning and very well enjoying every read through. This is A Christmas Carol: A colors primer by Jennifer Adams, art by Alison Oliver, 2012.

Book 6: A Christmas Carol

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