Books to celebrate the season’s many holidays

Books - December 2005


Judy Belanger

December is a month of many busy activities and holidays. Whichever holiday you celebrate, may it be filled with happiness, joy and best wishes for the new year.

SNOWMEN AT CHRISTMAS, by Caralyn Buehner, illustrated by Mark Buehner, Dial, $16.99; ages 3-7.

The little boy builds a snowman on Christmas Eve. As he goes to sleep, he wonders what snowmen do on this magical night. This story, told in rhyme, tells how all the snowmen gather to share the fun as they wait for Santa Snowman to arrive. The pictures provide opportunities to search for hidden animals and faces. This is a fun story to read on a snowy night.

CHRISTMAS ALPHABET CARDS, by Robert Sabuda, Running Press, $24.95; all ages.

Ten years ago, Robert Sabuda created The Christmas Alphabet pop-up book. To celebrate the anniversary of that book, a box of cards is now available. There are 26 cards, using sights, sounds and symbols of the holiday season with one card representing each letter of the alphabet. As the card is opened, a picture unfolds, such as a bell for B, a snowflake for S and a poinsettia for P. The back side of each card includes helpful information about the letter and picture being used. For example, snowmen are used for the letter F to represent friends. The message inside either reads "Season’s Greetings" or "Happy Holidays." This is a delightful way to share the fun of pop-ups with friends.

MERRY CHRISTMAS MERRY CROW, by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Jon Goodell, Harcourt, $16; ages 3-7.

Throughout the town, everyone is very busy with the approaching holidays. Nobody, however, is as busy as the crow, who is flying all about. The falling snow in each picture enhances the holiday spirit as the rhyming story follows the crow’s travels through the town. The busy people are watching, trying to guess how the crow will use the materials he is collecting. Among the items the crow collects are a ribbon, a garland, a string of beads, a bottle cap and a bag of seeds. When the people gather, they find the crow has decorated a beautiful pine tree for all to enjoy, including the birds.

ROBERT’S SNOWFLAKES: ARTISTS’ SNOWFLAKES FOR CANCER’S CURE, compiled by Grace Lin and Robert Mercer, Viking, $10.99; ages 4-8.

In 2004, many famous children’s book illustrators were asked to design snowflakes to be auctioned off to raise money for cancer research. Pictures of 63 of those snowflakes are presented in this book, including snowflakes that incorporate Pinkerton the dog (illustrated by Steven Kellogg) and Olivia the pig (illustrated by Ian Falconer). The proceeds from the sale of the book also go to cancer research. The idea for this project came about after Robert Mercer was diagnosed with bone cancer and his wife, Grace Lin, wrote the book Robert’s Snow, about a mouse who lives in a boot and is rescued when he falls into the snow. For additional information, visit

WINTER LIGHTS: A SEASON IN POEMS & QUILTS, by Anna Grossnickle Hines, Greenwillow, $16.99; ages 5 and up.

It took Hines 2½ years to finish the quilts she uses as the background for these poems about holiday light celebrations. Many of us are familiar with the light of a Christmas tree or a menorah. Sometimes on Christmas Eve a block can be lit with rows of candles in paper bags, or farolitos as they are called in the southwestern United States. Kwanzaa is celebrated with seven days of candle lighting. Hines also includes the natural lights of the moon and Aurora borealis. Not to be forgotten is the fun of the flashlight a child turns on under the covers for the pleasure of reading. The last few pages of the book include information about the work that goes into quilt making. What a beautiful way to illustrate the many festivities of this holiday season.

DEAR SANTA CLAUS, by Alan Durant, illustrated by Vanessa Cabban, Candlewick, $14.99; ages 4-7.

It is the beginning of December and Mom takes Holly and her little brother, Billy, to see Santa Claus. Before Holly goes to bed, she writes a letter to Santa Claus and leaves it next to the fireplace. That evening, Erol, one of Santa’s elves, finds the letter and takes it to the North Pole. Santa sends a reply, which Holly finds the next morning. Holly writes a few more letters and each time she receives a reply. Along with each letter, Santa includes several remembrances of the holiday season, such as an ornament for the tree, an Advent calendar and reindeer riddles. Each time, he also encourages Holly to include in her letter what she wants him to bring her for Christmas. The book shows the letters Holly has written and contains pockets that hold the answers the elves deliver from Santa. As the story unfolds, it includes hints about what Holly really wishes for, but we don’t find out until the very end. It is fun to guess and predict what Holly is wishing for this Christmas.

Judy Belanger is a retired elementary learning resource center teacher who lives with her husband in Addison. They have two grown children and four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6 in the school where she taught.


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