Blogging since 2007! Lots of children's/YA, with adult fiction/nonfiction reviews thrown in from time to time. All books discussed are available through the Fauquier County Public Library. Your comments are welcome!
Although the holiday season can be a time of high-stress and
activity, it’s also an ideal time to get lost in a great read. Sure, you can’t
go wrong with reading or rereading A Christmas Carol, but what if you’re
wanting something with more contemporary humor or romance? What if a Christmas
murder mystery is more your style, or if you want to share a Christmas story
with a young child (or read a sweet children’s Christmas story for yourself? As
someone who regularly rereads one or two children’s Christmas books every year,
I’m all for adults reading children’s books!)? Each year brings an explosion of
new Christmas books, from basic board books, romance novels, mysteries, and
more. Consider these titles when you’re ready to slow down and savor the
If your idea of a great Christmas read involves a warm
blanket, your hot beverage of choice, and an endearing read, then you have an
embarrassment of riches from which to choose.
‘”Christmas won’t be
Christmas without any presents,’ ” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug” is one of the
most famous opening lines in American literature. With 2018 being the 150th
anniversary of the publication of “Little Women”, why not rediscover Louisa May
Although “Ramona and Her Father” isn’t the first children’s
book people think of when they think “Christmas classic,” this heartwarming and
witty 1978 Newbery Honor book by Beverly Cleary remains a relevant look at a
family dealing with a parent’s unemployment during the holidays.
“Too Many Tamales” by Gary Soto is a gorgeous reminder to not forgo picture
books once a child can read independently, as he/she might miss out on some
outstanding picture book stories for the elementary school set. Maria must face
the consequences of wearing her mother’s ring without permission when it gets
lost while making tamales; will it ruin the family’s Christmas dinner? This is
a joyous and very relatable story that imparts a message without being overly
obvious about it.
“The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood” by
Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve is one of my all-time favorite Christmas stories.
Based on the author’s childhood recollections growing up as the daughter of an
Episcopal priest and never being able to pick first from the donation boxes
sent to the Rosebud Reservation, this is a meaningful and memorable tale about
community, selflessness, and unexpected rewards. Although the community is
obviously impoverished, it is not a focal point; rather, the emphasis is on
family/tribal pride and togetherness.
Do you love to cry over a good story? Have the tissue box
handy when you read these titles:
If you want a dash of realism in your Christmas stories,
don’t miss “Christmas Bells” by Jennifer Chiaverini. Alternating between a
grieving Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as he writes a Christmas poem and a music
teacher preparing her students for a Christmas concert while facing budget
cuts, this is an engaging story of faith, hope, and the power of community.
“Silver Packages” is another outstanding picture book to share
with elementary school students, as long as you can read the last scene without
choking up! (It’s a happy scene, don’t worry.) A young boy fervently hopes to
catch a doctor’s kit when the Christmas train runs through his Appalachian
community, but each year brings a different gift. Based on author Cynthia
Rylant’s childhood experiences, this is an emotional and eye-opening story with
a joyful “circle of life” feel that will give you goosebumps.
Have you ever ugly cried over a children’s picture book? You
just might if you read Susan Wojciechowki’s “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey.” No one can match Jonathan Toomey’s woodcarvings, but his gruff
mannerisms are off-putting to the other villagers. When a widow and her young
son ask him to carve figurines of the Holy Family for their crèche, they
unexpectedly assist him in his devastating grief. Not only are the illustrations breathtaking,
but the story is sensitively told without becoming maudlin.
Want some escapism and happy endings in your Christmas
reading? These stories will set your heart a-fluttering:
Bruce W. Cameron continues his line of wildly popular dog
stories (A Dog’s Purpose) with Dogs of Christmas. Josh is not prepared when a
dog and her puppies shows up in his life, much less when he falls for the
adoption coordinator helping him to get the dogs ready for their new home. Will
Josh be able to part with the dogs when it’s time for adoption? This sweet
story is perfect for dog lovers and romance readers alike.
If you’d prefer to stay in this century, pick up “Christmas Camp” by Karen Schaler. Haley Hanson is rising fast in her advertising career,
and is ready to snatch a prestigious Christmas toy company’s account to further
her aspirations. Although she’s not keen on her boss sending her to a Christmas
Camp, she learns the benefit of rediscovering Christmas, as well as meeting the
dashing son of the camp’s owner.
If you want to dive into a slew of Christmas
novels, you can’t go wrong with the ruler of Christmas romance, Debbie
Macomber. Her latest, “Alaskan Holiday,” is already a New York Times
Craving a whodunit this holiday season? These stories bring
murder, mayhem, and even some merriness:
Joanne Fluke’s “Christmas Cake Murder” is the latest in her
long-running Hannah Swensen series; Hannah’s dream of becoming the top baker in
town is complicated when she becomes entangled in a customer’s murder mystery
story that suddenly becomes all too real.
Vicki Delany’s “Year-Round Christmas” series features Merry
Wilkinson, the owner of a sweet little Christmas shop. When her best friend is
suspected of a murder (by poisoned gingerbread cookie), she must spring into
action before it’s too late.
Why not relax with a fat book of Christmas crime stories,
penned by some of the genre’s greats? "The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries",
edited by Otto Penzler, is crammed with mysteries that will meet with the
approval of even the most discerning mystery reader.
Isis Crawford’s “Mystery With Recipes” series is delicious
reading for armchair sleuths any time of the year, but fans will definitely
devour “A Catered Christmas Cookie Exchange,” which features a very competitive
Christmas cookie competition that unexpectedly turns deadly.
Finally, don’t miss the monarch of Christmas mysteries, Anne
Perry; her latest Christmas murder, “A Christmas Revelation,” is eagerly
awaited by her many fans.
Jennifer Schultz Angoli, Collection Services Development Librarian