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New Christmas Books December 17, 2012

Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.
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The holidays are often a time for tried and true favorites. We pull out old poems, familiar illustrators and songs that most people will at least hum along with. But new holiday books are published every year as well. Only time will tell whether any of these titles will become as lasting as The Night Before Christmas or The Polar Express, so find them at a bookstore or library and take a look. Will you keep them in your collection and read them every year?

Who Built the Stable?Who Built the Stable? by Ashley Bryan

Bryan, who won the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement last year, brings his bright colors and bold outlines to this lovely poem set in Bethlehem. A carpenter’s apprentice and shepherd boy builds a stable for his animals and offers it to Mary and Joseph when there is no room for them in a nearby inn. The boy, animals and landscape are all rendered in lush colors with thick outlines that suggest stained glass. The gentle rhythm of the poem, with it’s graceful ending “The boy looked in the infant’s eyes and in his heart he knew: the babe would be a carpenter. He’d be a shepherd too” makes this a perfect read for Christmas Eve.

The Birds of BethlehemThe Birds of Bethlehem by Tomie dePaola

Another look at Bethlehem, this time narrated by birds, comes from celebrated author-illustrator Tomie dePaola. The town birds have gathered to eat corn and gossip, and each has something surprising to share, from angel sightings to lines of people to inns that are full. The spare text matches the flat drawings with their wide expanses of color, speckled or lightly textured. While this title may not have as much child appeal as the others in this post, it’s a nice addition to collections of dePaola’s other Christmas books.

Just Right for ChristmasJust Right for Christmas by Birdie Black & Rosalind Beardshaw

The old story form ‘Something from Nothing’ where a beloved piece of cloth gets used again and again, gets a Christmas remake in this picture book, perfect for the 3-6 year old crowd. This time it’s a piece of red cloth ‘perfect for Christmas!’ that gets turned into a dress, a shawl, a tie. Each time the scraps are put outside and a new animal picks them up, ready to create the perfect present for a loved one. With its themes of kindness and being creative with with what you have, this is a great read aloud for either a family or a classroom holiday celebration.

ChristmastimeChristmastime by Alison Jay

Jay brings her trademark crackle-finish illustrations to the holiday season in this new picture book. Luminous and detailed scenes are paired with spare text–‘mistletoe’ shows a top down view of the front door, while ‘stocking’ is paired with a fireplace and animals toasting treats. The dog and cat show up repeatedly along with a boy and girl who get to ride in Santa’s sleigh over a gorgeous two page spread of a snowy town and share ‘tasty holiday treats’ with Santa and Mrs. Claus. At the end, there is a list of song references in the illustrations for those who like scavenger hunts in their picture books. I hope this gets released in the large board book format of Ms. Jay’s other books, as I can see it being a big hit with our littlest readers.

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