Book Bites: Christmas All The Way

Ask any grandparent: is there any better gift than a book? I may be biased of course, but for me, the go-to-gift at Christmas time, nay any time of year, is inevitably a book. Why? Because it is simply one of those gifts that keeps on giving and giving. A treasured book is a keepsake children can develop a deep gratitude and love for over many years. It’s a vessel of shared time, affection and aspirations. In short, a book gift is a precious thing. Here are some of this season’s best but don’t take my word for it; explore your bookshops this summer for even more sublime stories to share with your loved ones.

The Lonely Christmas Tree
Based on the Yuletide poem, A Visit from St Nicholas (T’was The Night Before Christmas), this gorgeous stocking-sized picture book follows the rhyme and cheer of the original poem but with a cute twist. This rendition centres on a poor forlorn pine tree, alone in the forest who, with a little help from a certain someone, eventually finds solace and a sense of purpose among old friends. Exquisite illustrations and lovely lilting verse render, The Lonely Christmas Tree charming with a capital C.

Title: The Lonely Christmas Tree
Author: Chris Naylor-Ballesteros
Illustrator: Chris Naylor-Ballesteros
Publisher: Bloomsbury, $16.99
Publication Date: November 2019
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781408892923
For ages: 3 – 6
Type: Picture Book

Buy the Book: Boomerang Books

I’m Ready for Christmas
Are you ready for Christmas? I admit I never am. I’m Ready for is series of cute little board books each focusing on various milestones in a young person’s life and thankfully this Christmas edition, illustrated by Jedda Robaard, ensures that little ones know exactly what to expect. Wombat shares a quintessentially Aussie summer build up to her favourite time of year, Christmas, where whole streets dress up their homes, relatives converge in droves and ultimately everyone sits down to a tremendous feast. Robaard’s sweet pastel-hued paintings embracing typical family scenes promote familiarity and joy; it’s cheering to see holly represented as green gum leaves and cherry red eucalyptus blossoms. This is a jolly little book perfect for young hands and curious minds.

Title: I’m Ready For Christmas
Illustrator: Jedda Robaard
Publisher: Penguin Random House, $12.99
Publication Date: October 2019
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781760891619
For ages: 2 - 4
Type: Board Book

Buy the Book: Booktopia, Boomerang Books  

The Christmas Garden
Mr Dawes has an extraordinary garden, surrounded by bushy green pines, populated with angelic statues and cheeky gnomes. People are drawn to it each Christmas thanks his sparkly displays and curious collection of wooden reindeers. But garden decorations are not the only trinkets he makes in his workshop for as the neighbourhood children know, there is something secretively magic about Mr Dawes and his reindeer. The Christmas Garden is a picture book imbued with the spirit of Christmas and just a whisper of Christmas cheek which embodies the power of belief. Sandra Severgnini’s divine illustrations capture the essence of a European Christmas and the beauty of nature evoking cool, warmth and cheer simultaneously.

Title: The Christmas Garden
Author: Caroline Tuohey
Illustrator: Sandra Severgnini
Publisher: Little Pink Dog Books, $ 24.95
Publication Date: October 2019
Format: Hardback
ISBN:  9780648256342
For ages: 3 – 6
Type: Picture Book

Buy the Book: Little Pink Dog Books,  Boomerang Books

The First Christmas
Jess Racklyeft’s clean and quietly colourful illustrations accompany this Nativity tale which introduces the first (Christian) Christmas. Whatever your religious intent, this story captures one of our best known traditions; baby Jesus’ birth, beautifully embroidered by a visual narrative that is as natural as it is innocent and pure, rather like new life itself. Worth sharing for its stripped-bare beauty and historic significance.

Title: The First Christmas
Illustrator: Jess Racklyeft
Publisher: Penguin Random House, $24.99
Publication Date: October 2019
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780143796909
For ages: 3 – 6
Type: Picture Book

Buy the Book: Boomerang Books, Readings

Sarah’s Two Nativities
Sarah’s family history is rich and colourful, just like the times she spends with her paternal and maternal grandparents cooking traditional treats. She is an eager audience to their stories and loves their tales about the birth of baby Jesus best of all; one from the Bible and one from the Koran. However despite her complete immersion into these nativity tales, Sarah begins to worry. How can two similar stories about the same thing also be so different? Which one of them is true? Sarah’s Two Nativities is an exquisitely illustrated juxtaposition of one of our most familiar Christmas tales; the first Christmas.

Fraser deftly introduces the reader to both stories of Christ’s birth while discreetly demonstrating that understanding difference is the best way to appreciate and accept it. By showing Sarah that both stories are in essence the same, her grandmothers allow her to embrace both as her favourite.

Magisson’s luxuriant illustrations saturate each page with deeply hued royal blues, muted greens and golds. They shimmer and sparkle reflecting hope and joy whilst fusing ancient times with contemporary expectations. The significance of celebrating faith, family and culture surges powerfully through both words and pictures yet is gentle enough for even the very young to marvel at and absorb. Highly recommended reading.

Title: Sarah’s Two Nativities
Author: Janine M Fraser
Illustrator: Helene Magisson
Publisher: Black Dog Books, $26.99
Publication Date: September 2019
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781925381795
For ages: 4 – 9
Type: Picture Book

Buy the Book: Walker Books Australia

Christmas Wonder
Everything about this picture book is joyful. From the glittering star spangled end pages to the final festive spread, Christmas Wonder sings joy and, yes–wonder–through all those delicious colours and sights that ignite ones Chrissy spirit at this time of year. Not a centimetre of page is left undecorated thanks to Cheryl Orsini’s playful illustrations which depict a typically Aussie Christmas soul. Carols by candlelight under balmy skies; picnics and Pavlova by a searing seaside; gingerbread men in striped bikinis…wait, what! Fun and family love are the themes of Vikki Conley’s singalong prose – simple two-word rhyming descriptions that perfectly sum up the silly season’s bubbly hustle and bustle all the way to the glittery golden end. Pure joy.

Title: Christmas Wonder
Author: Nikki Conley
Illustrator: Cheryl Orsini
Publisher: Affirm Press Kids, $19.99
Publication Date: October 2019
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781925870770
For ages: 3 – 6
Type: Picture Book

Buy the Book: Dymocks, Boomerang Books

The Tiny Star
As with many things great, their beginnings are often small and sometimes, easily overlooked but never ever inconsequential. The Tiny Star is a soul warming picture book that, whilst not themed around Christmas, captures the very elements of the Christmas spirit; celebrating family, community, love and the continuity of life. Richly symbolic, the tiny star could be any of our beloved family members or even a cherished pet or companion. Illustrator Freya Blackwood, depicts the star as a female who prospers from a loving upbringing, grows into a strong resilient, kind and caring person who imparts her love and wisdom to those she encounters. Achingly beautiful visual snapshots of her life however reveal that not everything gold can stay and eventually the dance of time slows for this star until one night, it disappears altogether. Yet like all stories of biblical endurance, the star continues to shine, enlightening and brightening every heart. Hope is restored. The Tiny Star is a magnificent testimony to the seasons of life, change, endurance and the unbreakable ties of humanity by two of our greatest storytellers.

Title: The Tiny Star
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrator: Freya Blackwood
Publisher: Penguin Random House, $24.99
Publication Date: October 2019
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780670078127
For ages: 3 – 8         
Type: Picture Book

Buy the Book: Booktopia

This little black duck / reviewer is bugging out soon in search of some Christmas cheer. I'll be back in the new year but if you need to quench your thirst for more terrific festive titles or any other awesome kids' books in the meantime, pop over to Kids' Book Review where we'll be reviewing non-stop all through to 2020!



Norah Colvin said…
A fabulous collection of gorgeous books for Christmas. What a gift! Thanks, Dimity.
DimbutNice said…
You're so welcome, Norah. Some real goodies among these. Always hard to choose but I love how Christmas is represented on so many levels and ways. :-)

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