I’m cheating again. 😉 I’ve actually got FOUR best books for December!

I’m really quite surprised because I usually find kids’ holiday books are either sappy, too wordy, or dreadfully illustrated. Someone got it right this year!

In no particular order, they are:

The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson–I bought this one because of the hype. It kept turning up on lists, and I knew if I didn’t get it, some parent was going to come in and ask for it! Oh, how pleasantly surprised I was! I grew up steeped in the magic of a secular Christmas. My family was dysfunctional nuts 364 days of the year but Christmas and Santa? They were always done right, year after year. There’s no dysfunction in this book but it does sooooo capture the feeling of magic. And the last double page spread of Jon Muth’s illustration made me gasp.

The Night Before Christmas by Rachel Isadora–I love clever creativity, but it also has to be done well (which is why I’ve so fallen for the group Straight No Chaser and their Christmas albums, hint, hint!). Those three elements are hard to come by. Rachel Isadora pulls it off here though. The poem is Clement Moore’s but the pictures are of a village, home, and family in Africa. There’s even a dark skinned, dreadlocked Santa. Sounds hokey but I was more taken by it than any Victorian/Coca-Cola version I have ever seen. This is fresh and will be a family classic. I may buy it for my grandkids (no, I have none and am a good five to ten years away from any).

Merry Christmas, Splat by Rob Scotton–I want to know HOW he draws all those fine hairs poking out from all over Splat! Ok, now that that’s out of my system, on to the book. I sheltered and protected my kids from everything having to do with the “naughty and nice” syndrome of Santa culture. And yes, I’ll admit, I’m a bad librarian. I censor the same from books I read to children during the holidays. But I may break that ban with Splat. It’s just too funny, funny, funny. Splat wants to be good so he can get a big present. So he “helps” his mom–with things she doesn’t need help with in typical preschooler style. “Being good is very tiring,” Splat eventually says. “It certainly is,” says his mom. I can just hear the loving exasperation in her voice.

Finally, A Pinata in a Pine Tree by Pat Mora–I wonder if anyone knew how much mileage The Twelve Days of Christmas would get over the decades. It can be a pretty obnoxious song (I do like Natalie Cole’s version) but this keeps the rhyme, rhythm, and fun of it while substituting in Spanish words and culture for the twelve gifts.

Whew! Go shopping!