Kid Culture | Celebrating the holiday in books

THE GREAT REINDEER REBELLION, written by Lisa Trumbauer, illustrated by Jannie Ho, Sterling, $14.95; ages 4-8. Who will drive the sleigh if the reindeer decide to go on strike? That is the situation Santa is facing. First he tries dogs, but they are too busy sniffing and smelling for food. Next come cats, which work out well until a stray mouse appears. Santa also tests flamingos, kangaroos and then elephants, who are too heavy on the roof. Santa doesn’t know what he will do until the reindeer come to him with a list of changes they want.

HANUKKAH LIGHTS, by David Martin, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, Candlewick Press, $5.99; ages 1-3. As each page is turned, a candle is added to the menorah and lit. Each page tells of a Hanukkah tradition. This small board book is great for little children. It’s easy to hold and helps them learn about the customs and traditions of this Jewish holiday.

DR. SEUSS LACING CARDS: HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS!,, $7.34; ages 3-5. Using pictures from the story, children will have fun lacing the five cards. Included is a small book with a variety of activities. The backs of the cards provide a different method of lacing to help children learn number and alphabet sequences. These will be fun to use after reading or watching the story.

A PIÑATA IN A PINE TREE: A LATINO TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS, by Pat Mora, illustrated by Magaly Morales, Clarion, $16; ages 4-8. The author explains the Mexican tradition of the 12 days, beginning on Christmas Day and ending Jan. 5, the twelfth night, which is Epiphany or the Feast of the Three Kings. With this in mind, she created a Latino version of the song. For those who do not speak Spanish, a page is included with the words and a pronunciation guide.

RICHARD SCARRY’S FAVORITE CHRISTMAS CAROLS, by Richard Scarry, Sterling, $14.95; ages 4 and up. Scarry’s favorite characters decorate the pages of the 10 familiar carols. For the budding musician in the family, an actual piano keyboard is attached to the book. By matching the letters in the book to those on the keyboard, everyone can enjoy a sing-along.

‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, by Clement Clarke Moore, illustrated by Jon Goodell, Accord Publishing, $17.99; ages 4 and up. Every year I enjoy looking for a different version of this Christmas classic. Although the story is the same, the added feature of AniMotion pictures in this board book brings the story to life. As pages are turned, the reader sees visions of sugar plums dancing in the heads of the children. It is fun to watch the train move around the tree and Santa’s belly shake when he laughs.

THE NUTCRACKER, retold by John Cech, pictures by Eric Puybaret, Sterling, $17.95; ages 6-10. This version is based on the original story by E.T.A. Hoffman. Included is the story Godfather Drosselmeier tells Marie about Princess Pirlipat, a story that has been passed down in his family for many generations.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL, illustrated by Scott McKowen, Sterling, $9.95; ages 10 and up. With a 3-D Disney version out this season, families may want to include this story in their holiday readings. This book can set the background information before seeing the movie or allow you to enjoy the original tale after the movie.

Judy Belanger is Chicago Parent’s children’s book reviewer and a retired elementary learning resource center teacher with four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6.

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