Stack Overflow: ‘Tis the Season

It’s December, so it’s time to break out the Christmas books while you decorate the tree and hang up the stockings! Here are some new stories and some new takes on old stories—plus an old family favorite.

The Christmas Boot by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Hannah Greyweather is a poor woman who lives alone in the forest in a little cabin, and one day she discovers a fine black boot in the snow. She puts it on, and it fits perfectly, and keeps her foot warm and toasty—she wished she had its mate. The next morning, what should she find but two matching boots! The boots continue to grant her wishes, until somebody shows up at her door: a man with a white beard, a red suit, and only one boot.

It’s a fun story with the feel of a fable—Hannah makes wishes, but really with no expectations, and is as happy to return the boot to its owner as she was to find it. It’s a fun story about Christmas magic, with a heartwarming ending.

The Nutcracker illustrated by Valeria Docampo

The Nutcracker is a popular story this time of year with many different versions. This particular retelling is based on the 1954 production of the New York City Ballet by George Balanchine, with illustrations inspired by the costumes and choreography from the show. At the end of the book, there’s a brief section with fun facts about the production. If you’re a fan of The Nutcracker, this is a lovely version to share with your kids.

Cozy Classics: The Nutcracker by Jack Wang and Holman Wang

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While we’re on the subject of The Nutcracker, the Wang brothers have a Cozy Classics version of the story as well, featuring their hand-crafted felted characters. This board book only has 12 words (one per picture) so it’s up to you to fill in the blanks of the story, but it’s another adorable way to enjoy this tale.

This First Christmas Night by Laura Godwin, illustrated by William Low

The traditional Christmas story is shared with a quiet poem and illustrations that capture the wonder and glory of the moment. Both the words and pictures are peaceful, making this an excellent book for a contemplative story time or a bedtime story. If you and your family have a tradition of reading the story of the first Christmas together, this version is a beautiful one to add to the rotation.

Albert: The Little Tree with Big Dreams by Aaron and Will Eisenberg

This book is a picture book version of Nickelodeon’s new holiday special, airing this Friday (December 9, 7pm ET/PT). Albert is a small Douglas fir who’s just full of Christmas spirit, and his dream is to become the Empire City Christmas Tree—the most famous Christmas tree in the world. But there’s a lot between him and his true calling—including the prickly, bah-humbuggy Cactus Pete. It’s a sort of goofy story (with, I should note, a bit of cartoon violence) that, of course, includes a lesson about the spirit of the season and the magic of Christmas.

Morris’s Disappearing Bag by Rosemary Wells

And, finally, here’s an older book (originally published in 1975) that we’ve had in our collection for a while that I still enjoy reading. Morris and his siblings all get presents for Christmas, and his older siblings all take turns with each other’s gifts: a hockey outfit (with skates), a makeup kit, and a chemistry set. But nobody wants to play with Morris’s bear, and he’s too young to play with their gifts. But then Morris finds one more present under the tree: a Disappearing Bag. Basically, it’s a cloak (or bag) of invisibility, and pretty soon everyone wants to play with it. I love the illustrations of the little bits of Morris sticking out of the bag, which is itself totally invisible, and the siblings’ reactions are spot-on.

Merry Christmas, and happy reading!

Disclosure: I received review copies of the titles in this list except Morris’s Disappearing Bag.

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Jonathan H. Liu

Jonathan H. Liu is a stay-at-home dad in Portland, Oregon, who loves to read, is always up for a board game, and has a bit of a Kickstarter habit. I can be reached at jonathan at geekdad dot com.

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