We have so many Christmas books (and a good number of Hanukkah books) that I'm quite picky about the new ones that I order every year. The ones by popular authors are ordered, of course, but I'm really on the lookout for books that are unique and out-of-the-ordinary. The new winter holiday books that are either on our shelves or will soon be there are a mix of multicultural, historical, or just unique takes on the holiday season.
The Third Gift
Newbery Medalist Linda Sue Park's Nativity-themed picture books starts off with a startling and intriguing whallop: "My father collects tears." The narrator, a young boy, is learning his father's trade of collecting dried pearls of sap from myrrh trees. We learn how the bark is cut and how the sap is harvested. The boy and his father take the largest "tear," harvested by the boy, to the spice market, where it is bought by three men who are purchasing beautiful gifts for a baby. (You see where this is going?) Reviews have been stellar, with School Library Journal approvingly noting the close relationship between son and father; Publishers Weekly praises Park for bridging "the ordinary and sacred to powerful effect."
A Bad Kitty Christmas
The Bad Kitty chapter books are huge hilarious hits; author Nick Bruel gets into the holiday spirit with this presentation of Bad Kitty in a picture book parody of "The Night Before Christmas." While there's plenty of humor and zany antics, Bad Kitty does learn the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas in Williamsburg
I *knew* this book would be popular. I sneaked a peek at it before it went on the shelf, because I knew that it wouldn't stay there long (I was right). This overview of colonial Christmas celebrations (it does touch on Christmas celebrations beyond the colonial period) is an intriguing read for both kids and parents. Pictures of reenactors make this a visually attractive browse worthy book. Recipes and craft instructions are included.
The Golem's Latkes
This Hanukkah fairy tale by master folklorist Eric Kimmel has been admired by Kirkus Reviews ("a fine read-aloud holiday treat") and Publishers Weekly ("Kimmel has the pacing of a comic"). We're always in need of Hanukkah books that aren't simple explanations of Hanukkah, so I'm super pleased about this one.
Grace at Christmas
Grace is back! This irresistible star of four picture books is featured in her first Christmas story. Grace, friends, and family members act out the Nativity story, but not without conflict and lessons being learned.
Let the holiday reading begin!