There are many picture books about Christmas that kids will love hearing and adults will love reading. Animals are prominent in many, from a “Santa” cat to a moose and a small stuffed bear named Corduroy. Some are funny, some are touching, and all are about the holiday spirit.
For beautifully detailed, colorful illustrations, Jan Brett must win the prize. Her Christmas books include “Home for Christmas” and “The Animals’ Santa.” “Home for Christmas” is the story of a naughty troll who never wants to help out at home. After running away and trying to live with various animals (owls, bears, otters, moose), he discovers that he misses his home and family. In “The Animals’ Santa,” all the forest creatures wonder who is the one who brings gifts on Christmas. One enterprising rabbit decides to find out. Both books are filled with Brett’s sumptuous illustrations including intricate and decorative borders and insets in the borders that tell their own story. These are books that children will want to read and reread as they look at the illustrations to find more and more almost-hidden pictures.
“Catch that Cookie” by Hallie Durand and illustrated by David Small is the charming story of a class baking gingerbread men. When they go to take them out of the oven, the cookies have disappeared! But there are clues for the children to solve that finally lead them to the gingerbread men. Magic? The youngsters in the story are convinced!
“A Christmas Wish for Corduroy” by Don Freeman is a classic tale that children young enough to have a beloved stuffed animal will love to read. Corduroy is waiting for a home of his own but is getting passed by in favor of other, more elaborate toys. He decides he needs a special outfit and goes in search of one. Of course, in the end Corduroy gets his Christmas wish and ends up with a home of his own for Christmas.
“Here Comes Santa Cat” is the clever picture book by Deborah Underwood that even older readers will enjoy. Like her book, “Here Comes the Easter Cat,” “Santa Cat” is short on text and big on having children figure out what is happening from the illustrations and the look on the cat’s face. The cat doesn’t talk, so the narrator is doing all the talking and that, combined with the illustrations, tells the story. Because the illustrations are at least half the story, kids will love getting to “tell” that part of the tale.
“The Last Christmas Tree” is Stephen Krensky’s touching story of the small and sparse little Christmas tree who sat in the lot for days. No one wanted the rather homely tree, and on Christmas Eve, the final indignity was a “free” sign that was the only decoration for the forlorn fir. But, at the last moment, the little tree gets the best home of all! Illustrated by Pascal Campion, this is a book that shares the idea that it’s not all about looks. The little tree has a bigger heart and spirit than larger, more attractive trees.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover books provided by the publisher, Penguin Young Readers Group, for review purposes.
Follow the National Book Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.
If you would like to continue receiving book reviews, including information about author appearances, author interviews and giveaways, please click the “Subscribe” icon. It’s free and anonymous. Thank you for reading, and thank you for sharing this article with others.
Home for Christmas by Jan Brett
“Home for Christmas” by Jan Brett is filled with intricate and beautiful illustrations and a heart-warming story of a young troll who finds out the value of home and family. The illustrations include Brett’s lovely borders and side pictures telling a story of their own.
Catch that Cookie by Hallie Durand
Where did the gingerbread men disappear to? That’s what young Marshall and his friends must find out. Clever clues have Marshall and his classmates running across the school to find their missing cookies. Marshall goes from not believing in magic to worrying about his cookie escaping. Warning: Don’t read when hungry.
Here Comes Santa Cat by Deborah Underwood
Clever, clever book with text and illustrations working seamlessly together to create a different kind of reading experience. The readers must be actively involved in figuring out what the cat is feeling and saying from the pictures. The text consists of the narrator asking questions and surmising some of the answers. It’s a great way to get readers involved in books!
A Christmas Wish for Corduroy by Don Freeman
A small stuffed bear gets overlooked until he goes searching for something to make him stand out. And in the end, he gets his Christmas wish! A sweet tale for younger readers.
The Last Christmas Tree
This is a true holiday book with a small, spare spruce getting overlooked until Christmas Eve. At the last moment, when it seems certain that the forlorn fir will spend Christmas alone, he gets the best home ever.
The Animals’ Santa by Jan Brett
Animals, too, have their Santa. But a young rabbit wonders what kind of animal Santa is and decides to stay up late and see. Brett’s illustrations are filled with images that children will love to ponder. This will become a tale to tell and retell every holiday season.