Time for a few of my favourite Christmas books, including some new ones from this year. AVRL owns all these books, but at this time of year, don’t be surprised if they are all checked out. Here they are:
The Money We’ll Save by Brock Cole: Ma sends Pa to the store for eggs and flour, and returns home with a turkey poult that they can raise for Christmas dinner. “Think of the money we’ll save!” he says. Anyone who has raised chickens or turkeys knows where this is going. And since this family lives in a crowded city tenement, the story gets wild quickly. The children name the turkey Alfred, and when they realized that Pa intends to eat their friend, well, they have to come up with another solution, and a fine one it is. I love Brock Cole’s sensibilities, and this book does justice to his others, such as Buttons, Larky Mavis, and Good Enough to Eat.
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg: If you’ve only seen the movie, you are certainly missing out on a Christmas classic. In this book, a boy is awakened by a train, and he is commanded to come aboard. He sleepily boards the train—the Polar Express – which is headed for the North Pole to see Santa give the First Gift of Christmas. The writing is brilliant, and the illustrations won Van Allsburg a coveted Caldecott award. This touching story of a bell that rings for those who believe is one that I read every year. Often, I read it several times.
Melrose and Croc: a Christmas to Remember by Emma Chichester Clark. I have to first admit to having a soft spot for books that have crocodilian characters. That said, this story of a little crocodile (clad in his jaunty red scarf and carrying his small suitcase) who goes to the big city for Christmas, and Melrose, a dog who is decorating his apartment in same big city (which looks an awful lot like NYC), just makes me smile. Both Melrose and Croc realize that Christmas would be so much nicer if there were someone to share it with, and then BOOM! they run into each other (literally) on the ice rink. I love the old-fashioned looking illustrations and the thick, creamy paper in this book, and the glittery snow on the cover is a nice touch.
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Laurel Long. I am recommending this one mainly for the illustrations. It is truly a lovely book, the perfect thing to pore over under the lights of the tree, or by the fire on a cold winter’s night. The paintings are lush and remind me of Renaissance artists.
Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant. Another confession: I cannot read this one without tissues at hand. It must be that the story resonates with my Kentucky upbringing, and makes me sentimental at this time of year. Silver Packages tells of the Christmas Train that rolls through small town Appalachia, and gifts wrapped in silver paper are thrown off to eager children. There’s a real Santa Train, and it is still running through Tennessee and Kentucky. This story can also be found in the book Children of Christmas : stories for the season, and makes a fine read-aloud, even if you’ve never been to Kentucky.