Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Gifts that Keep on Giving

Christmas books highlight the joy of giving.
It is the week of Thanksgiving and I have a great deal to be thankful for. Being able to read, review and share wonderful books is certainly something to be thankful for. This week I am sticking with holiday themes. I received two books for review from Random House  a little late to include in my printed column  but perfectly timed for Black Friday shopping. Keep your eyes out in the coming weeks for more holiday themed books.

The Lost Gift
By Kallie George
Illustrated by Stephanie Graegen
Best for: Ages 4 - 8
Staying up late to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus is an age old tradition for children allover the world. It's evidently a tradition for woodland creatures as well. When Rabbit, Squirrel, Deer and bird climb to the top of Merry Woods Hill to wait for Santa they get more than they bargained for. When Santa flies by a present falls from his sleigh. As the woodland friends investigate they find a wrapped package meant for "the new baby at the farm." Bird, Rabbit, Deer and Squirrel proceed to take the present to the farm. The overcome a few obstacles along the way and are rewarded with joy when they baby unwraps her present.
George uses an economy of words to develop each character, giving them both childlike wonder and adult personality traits. Traveling through the simple story line gives George the ability to focus on the message of giving and the true warmth joy can be. Kindness can be the greatest present. It's a message we could all use right now. Graegen brings the animals' personalities to the forefront with sweet expressions and engaging, Christmas card-esque vignettes. The illustrations' play with shadows and light using blue hues to offer a pleasing pallet for quiet time reading. 

The Twelve Days of Christmas: A Peek-Through Picture Book
Illustrated By Britta Teckentrup
Best for: Ages 3 - 7
It has been around a long time, so there is little publishers can do to make The Twelve days of Christmas new and vibrant. That doesn't mean illustrators won't try. In this new edition Britta Teckentrup puts her spin on the classic Carol. Teckentrup has written and illustrated over 70 books including a peek-through picture book released last February titled, Tree. A simple hole in the cover of the book reveals a central figure in the story. In the case of this Christmas book, the hole reveals a partridge in a pear tree. Each new page playfully reveals images from the next line of the carol  three French hens, five gold rings, ten lords a-leaping and so on. By the end, Teckentrup uses a her retro block-print style with bright, engaging colors and touches of gold foil to reveal all twelve days of Christmas, and deftly turns this classic Carol into an engaging counting book for the holidays.