This year there seems to be a lack of fantastic Christmas books but after a couple months of very surface level scratching (i.e. clicking the “upcoming in the next 30 days” button on Amazon), I decided to dig deeper and was indeed able to find some gems.
First of all, I am excited to report that my favorite toddler type book in many years— Song of the Stars is now available in board book edition. I think this gentle, reverent book is just about THE perfect gift for anyone 6 and under…
Also, I was thrilled to find that one of my very FAVORITE books on Christmas ever has finally been republished this year. B is for Bethlehem, if you have not seen it yet… is pure, delicious eye candy. Elisa Kleven put her whimsical, highly detailed, mural illustrations out to pair with Isabel Wilner and together they came up with a wonderful, gorgeous book. I have this in the board edition, but even those sturdy books have a lifespan around here and I want to purchase this again in hardcover…
Another republishing to get excited about this year is Richard Scarry’s Gingerbread Man. This is one of those great little, vintage Golden Books being reprinted on the cheap! And it’s one of the very few times (I want to say ONLY but I haven’t done exhaustive research) that you see Richard Scarry’s illustrations for HUMANS… he is known for his Busy World and classic animals of course… but it’s fun to see this really old title back in print.
As far as brand new stories go, Marguerite’s Christmas looks to be one of the most promising in my opinion. While I haven’t gotten to read it yet, I know the artist Pascal Blanchet doesn’t disappoint (you can see some inside shots in his project gallery on the website). And I generally like almost all the titles Enchanted Lion Books puts out… they are slightly off the beaten path either in story and/or design but always feature excellent art. This story was originally published in France in 2013 and is all about an elderly woman who learns to overcome her fears…
I’m really itching to get my hands on Tom’s Christmas Fish also. While the story sounds very sweet and evocative (about doing the right thing), I always love Christmas books that highlight different cultures and their traditions and this particular one takes us into the heart of Prague…
If you’re interested in a visually indulgent book, Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins is the perfect book for you this year. This author/illustrator duo is the same on that brought us the beautiful story of George and the Dragon. It is a little meaty in the text department but that makes for an appropriate gift for an older child especially, in my opinion.
And adding to the “Best Actual Nativity Stories” in my original roundup of Christmas would almost certainly be The Nativity, featuring biblical text (with added story elements) and the artwork of Giotto.
Kristoph and the First Christmas Tree is about a legend involving St. Boniface… so it includes all my favorite things: Christmas, saints and lovely pictures!
Finally, this is from 2014 but I finally got around to reading it in person is The Night Before Christmas, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin. It’s been clear already that I am a Duvoisin fan— appreciating his vintage, first rate illustrations in ALL his books— but what makes this particular edition so special is the book’s dimensions! I say again, I say again, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes in the publishing world beyond just words and pictures. How a publisher decides to lay things out, what fonts, what white space, what size… all of that is critical in making a picture book really shine in its best light. And for those of us who love to wrap up Christmas books during Advent, it is so fun for the kids to have this unmistakable, tall narrow title to look forward to each year. Highly recommended.
In addition to a few second hand titles I picked up this year, you may be wondering if I had any full price splurges for my own collection. And yes, I did. I allowed myself just one: The Christmas Angels by Else Wenz-Vietor as a gift for my young daughter. I had heard and seen this book years ago but just assumed by the look of it that it was out of print and wildly expensive. So I was delighted to find it available and stunning for all of us.
Added to my wishlist immediately:)
The Christmas Angels looks delightful. and I note the author of the Nativity has also written an Easter title.
Thank you for sharing yet another collection of gorgeous books!
I saw this list of books and thought of you. It’s so overwhelming to wade through all the twaddle, I don’t know how you continue to find such gems. But I’m grateful that you share them! 😉
What a great review. Christmas books are my favourite genre, I think! “Richard Scarry” for humans! Ha! Do you know Brian Wildsmith’s “A Christmas Story”? He is one of those illustrators that’s so artsy and yet so accessible to children: I think it’s the simplicity of his language.
Yes, that Wildsmith book is lovely like all of his. 🙂