4 Kids' Books to Get Into the Holiday Spirit
The latest 'Raising Readers' column
For almost all children (and most grown-ups) the holiday season is full of joy, excitement and restless anticipation of celebrating traditions with family and friends. It is also about beginning anew, reflecting back on the past year and looking forward to another year on the horizon. Here are four newly released, engaging books that will fill your little readers with spirit, no matter what holiday your family celebrates.
In “Santa Rex” (Viking Children’s Books, 40 pages, $13.76), Caldecott honoree author and illustrator Molly Idle is back with her fourth book in this funny series. Cordelia and her brother are celebrating Christmas with their dinosaur friends. There are a few mishaps while getting ready for the holidays, such as the Triceratops shattering the fireplace while hanging stockings and a Tyrannosaurus rex knocking down the tree. Yet through it all, the friends have a great holiday and discover that what makes Christmas magical is how it brings everyone together. This secular story, which has been written for ages 3-5, can be used to introduce young readers to other nonreligious Christmas traditions.
In “Beautiful Yetta’s Hanukkah Kitten” (Feiwel & Friends, 32 pages, $17.99), husband-and-wife team Daniel and Jill Pinkwater bring us the story of a Yiddish chicken named Yetta who escapes from the poultry market and takes up residence in Brooklyn, where she becomes the adoptive mother of a flock of wild Spanish-speaking parrots. One cold night she finds a lost kitten and takes it under her wing. Neither Yetta nor the parrots know how to care for a kitten, so they take it to the old grandmother who is known for her caregiving skills. Other animals watch as the grandmother gives the kitten latkes, and when Yetta and the parrots ask, “What are latkes?” they hear the kitten belt out, “They are potato pancakes traditionally enjoyed during this holiday.” Written for ages 4-7, this story celebrates the diversity of various cultures by incorporating Jewish, Spanish and English traditions.
“Santa Bruce” (Disney Books, 48 pages, $13.68), is New York Times best-selling author Ryan T. Higgins’s latest release in his “Mother Bruce” series, which stars a grumpy, old black bear named Bruce, who wants nothing to do with the holidays. His furry forest friends do, however, so they deck the halls, prepare eggnog and spread Christmas cheer. One day Bruce becomes so cold shoveling snow that he dresses in long underwear and a warm hat, only to be mistaken for Santa Claus by a gossipy raccoon, who tells all the young critters in the village that Bruce is Santa. They rush into his house to sit on his lap and tell them what they want for Christmas. Bruce tells their parents he is not really Santa, but the parents beg him to deliver gifts and play the part of Santa Bruce, if only for one night. Thanks to encouragement from his mice friends and geese, Santa Bruce spreads the spirit of Christmas all over the forest and brings happiness to everyone. Written for ages 4-7, this story highlights the importance of giving, in addition to receiving.
“Emily Brown and Father Christmas” (Hachette Children’s Group, 32 pages, $10.99) is author Cressida Cowell’s holiday contribution to her famous Emily Brown series. Cowell, who also authors the best-selling “How to Train Your Dragon” and “The Wizards of Once” book series, tells the story of Emily Brown and her stuffed grey rabbit, Stanley, as they discover Father Christmas lurking outside their window. When Father Christmas comes down with a terrible cold, Emily and Stanley must call up some serious holiday magic to successfully deliver presents to every single child in the entire world, “even though it was way past their bedtime.” Beautiful illustrations accompany this story, which was written for ages 4-7.
Elizabeth Lincicome is a mother, communications expert and freelance writer based in Raleigh.