Wow, 2 posts in a row!!! Yes, I was up early, but not as early as yesterday – thank heavens!!! This post has been writing itself in my head for the past couple of days and it was finally time to write it down and share it!!
Part of my Holiday decorating is finding a large basket and filling it with the Holiday books from the bookcase in the “sports” guest room (my husband’s name for the room, not mine!!) and then putting that basket in the family room. Now remember I don’t have any young children at home and this is a basket of children’s picture books, but every year I find Megan and Caitlin (and anyone else visiting us) going through that basket, finding their favorites and settling down to read. Caitlin happened to be at the house when I was finishing up the decorating this past weekend and I commented that I wasn’t going to bother putting out the box of books because we weren’t going to be home for Christmas. Her immediate reaction – “What?? But I like to read those!!” My immediate reaction – “thank you, Lord”!!!!! Last night I found the basket, put the books in it and put it in the family room!!! Oh and to make this whole event even better, my sister-in-law texted and asked did I have a book she could share with the kids!! Life is good!!!
Now the real intention of this post is to share some of those books with you. I’m sure many of you are still looking for that special gift for someone special – that grandchild, niece, nephew, neighbor, new baby!! How about a book? Start a holiday book collection for yourself or that someone special! Back when I was still a school librarian, I looked forward to this time of year because I could troll those bookshelves and find all of my favorites to share with the students. I was so bad that I kept some of my favorites for myself! These were the ones that I would share!!!
I googled Best Children’s Christmas Books last night and checked out those lists and I have to tell you some of my favs did not make those lists and I don’t know why, because these are the best of the best. Some may even be out of print, but check out the library and borrow them to read when your special someone comes to visit. They aren’t in any order, except for my top three and they will be last, and right now I really wish it was my dear friend Camille that was writing this post. Now there is a women who can write a review – short, sweet and perfect!!! Camille, I’m going to try to channel you on this one!!!
Hanukkah starts at sunset on Saturday, so I’ll start with my favorite Hanukkah story – “Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins” by Eric Kimmel and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Herschel brings Hanukkah back to the small village by outwitting a different goblin each of the 8 nights of Hanukkah. Herschel is a smart one and the kids will love the tricks he pulls on all of the goblins. This is one of the books I sent over last night.
A couple of funny ones for the younger ones: “How Santa Found His Job” and “How Santa Lost His Job” by Stephen Krensky. After trying many different jobs, Santa (a man who wears a red suit and likes to give things away) finds the perfect job with the help of some elves. It is one of these same elves that help him to lose that job when he thinks he has a better way to do the job. Kids will also love the new suits when Santa decides it is time to update his look in “Santa’s New Suit” by Laura Rader.
Oldies but goodies: “The Puppy Who Wanted A Boy” by Jane Thayer was originally published in 1958 and it was re-released with updated language by Scholastic in 1990. What does every child want for Christmas – a puppy, of course. Well what does every puppy want – a boy!!! Petey, the puppy, goes out in search of his boy and eventually finds 50 of them at a Home For Boys. “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson was written in 1972. This chapter book delights with the adventures of the Herdmans, the worst kids in the history of the world, and how they take over the annual church Christmas pageant. AND the movie version starring Loretta Switt is available on dvd. A must see!!!
Fantastic illustrations: No list would be complete without Jan Brett and Hilary Knight. Jan Brett’s version of “The Night Before Christmas” is one of my favorites and also my gift of choice for a baby’s first Christmas. “The Wild Christmas Reindeer” and “The Mitten” are also wonderful. Brett’s illustrations are a joy to behold and be sure to look carefully at the side panels to get a preview of what’s to come or to see what else is happening in the story. In Hilary Knight’s “The Twelve Days Of Christmas”, Bedelia Bear creates a Christmas Fair from the all of the gifts she has received from Benjamin Bear.
Poignant stories – yes, the tear jerkers: In “Silver Packages: an Appalachian Christmas Story” by Cynthia Rylant, Frankie learns the true meaning of Christmas from the gentleman who comes every year on the Christmas Train to bring presents to the children of a poor coal mining town. Susan Wojciechowski’s “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey” tells the story of how a young widow’s request for a new creche for Christmas softens the heart of the woodcarver. “Santa Calls” by William Joyce makes this list because my daughter Megan cried when she read it. It’s Esther’s Christmas request from Santa that will bring a tear to your eye. Many of Patricia Polacco’s stories will make a “tear jerker” list ,but “Christmas Tapestry” is my holiday favorite. From the book jacket, because I can’t say it any better” …poignant holiday tale of two families, two faiths and two lonely people united by a beautiful twist of fate.”
And now for my absolute favorites: #3 – “How Murray Saved Christmas” by Mike Reiss. Best all round funny Christmas book. Santa is knocked out cold by Jack-in-the-Boxer and deli-owner Murray Kleiner reluctantly agrees to step in as Santa, a job he is ill-prepared for. Oh yeah and it rhymes!!!!!
#2 – “Willy and May: A Christmas Story” by Judy Schachner. The first time I read this book, I knew I wanted to be Aunt May, well except for Willy (the bird) sitting on my head!!! The twice yearly visits with Great Aunt May and Willy are magical adventures. Sadly, the young girl must miss a summer visit and the winter visit is in jeopardy, but Aunt May and Willy rise to the occasion. Yes, this book can also be included in the “tear jerker” list. Now, will I ever be Aunt May, no, but that doesn’t mean I’m not the best Aunt ME I can be!!!
And finally #1 – The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree” by Gloria Houston and illustrated by Barbara Cooney. I first read this book while standing in a book store. I fumbled for my tissues and promptly passed it and a tissue to Megan (who was giving me some strange looks). Each year a different family donates the tree that will stand in the church at Christmas. Ruthie’s father selects the tree that they will donate, but then he is called to fight in the First World War. When the war ends, Ruthie and her mom wait for the Mountain train to bring him back home. Weeks go by and still he isn’t home and now it is time to cut the tree and bring it to the church. Another family offers to provide a tree, but Ruthie’s mom stands firm – they will provide the tree and Ruthie will be the angel in the Christmas pageant. I’ll stop here because I’m starting to drop tears on my keyboard!!! Aside from this being a wonderful story, I feel a personal connection to this book. It is set in the mountains of North Carolina and both Megan and my sister-in-law Fra graduated from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. I’ve ridden on the Tweetsie train that is in the story.
Well, that was longer than I expected!!!! I guess my inner librarian was just waiting for its day in the sun!!!
I’m off to do a little shopping and then it’s back to the sewing machine. I started the new Sarah Emma last night. I did some cutting and actually started on the half square triangles. I’m having a “Fringe” marathon – almost through season 2 – so it was a perfect Spinning Star sewing evening!!!
Until next time, happy quilting.