Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Reading Notes: 5 Christmas picture books

Last year I posted about 5 of our favourite Christmas picture books. With the season almost upon us again, I thought I might offer 5 different books that we're already enjoying in this pre-festive warm-up period :-)

1. The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by Kevin Whitlark
This hilarious remake of the Twelve Days of Christmas features, among other things, three French poodles, six pooches playing, ten labs a'licking, eleven puppies pooping, and a fat cat in a fur tree. The kids like it because it's amusing. I like it because I can SING it, and, tunelessness notwithstanding, I do love to sing.

Apparently there is a companion volume, The Twelve Cats of Christmas, and I'm on the hunt for it now.

2. On This Special Night by Claire Freedman and Simon Mendez
Choosing one animals'-eye nativity story out of the bunch is always tricky, as there is such a plethora of titles in this sub-genre. This one, which uses a little grey kitten's learning about the meaning of the special night as its central device, is very appealing, though, firstly because it is beautifully, almost photographically illustrated, and secondly because of the oddly touching detail of the empty manger in the final illustration, leaving the child's mind to supply the image of the infant Jesus, being gazed on by the animals.

(As with all nativity stories, I have to set aside the historical and biblical inaccuracies that go with the territory. My 2 year old really doesn't need to hear me explain that the wise men didn't visit Jesus until he was almost 2, according to the Bible, or that if there were shepherds and flocks on the hills, it sure as sugar wasn't December - midwinter - when he was born. Well, at least not EVERY time :-)

3. Zelda & Ivy: One Christmas
This extremely appealing three-part tale of the Fox sisters' preparations for Christmas has been on our bookshelf for years, but it's this year that it's really come into its own. C, my 2 year old, and E, my 6 year old, have adopted this one as a sister-story, and E's been reading it aloud to C most days. They are particularly enamoured of Chapter Three, where the girls finally get their Christmas gifts, and deliver a very special one to their widowed neighbour.

4. Magical Christmas
This is a strange little book in some ways, combining quite a teacherly-earnest tone in some parts (and useful information about various Christmas traditions around the world) with a very tongue-in-cheek manner at others.

My 6 year old adores it for the way it seems to invite the child reader into the joke, but there's also plenty of sly humour for the adults, with phrases like, "Always show letters for Santa to your parents before sending - it really helps" and "Don't open all the windows at once or the grown-ups will be cross and it is essential not to make grown-ups cross before Christmas."

5. Aussie Jingle Bells
Colin Buchanan's version of Jingle Bells for an Australian audience is famous - probably infamous - now, and needs no introduction. It's another one I can sing, too!

This post is part of NaBloPoMo. 22 down, 8 to go!


  1. I think it's time for me to get serious about christmas books, thanks for some ideas to start me off!

  2. I just saw the twelve cats of Christmas in the current big w catalogue and had to come tell you! I'll be book shopping tomorrow!

  3. I just read the Big W Catalogue today and the that 12 Cats of Christmas book you mention wanting to get is in there :) You've got me singing about a 'rusty holden ute' in my head now!!

  4. Thanks Cate and Bek :-)

    I've actually just ordered it through book club at the big kids' school and we're excited!