Monday, November 30, 2015

TTT: Winter Holiday Favorites

I'm not up to date enough to have ten 2016 books for this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic.  I am, however, fully into reading Christmas/winter books to my kids.  Here are my top ten, with some caveats/additions.

First of all, my all-time favorites are The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and A Christmas Carol.    But you've probably already heard of those.  Same with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Night Before Christmas.  

I had this fantastic Arthur Rackham book when I was a kid, with A Christmas Carol, Peter Pan, Midsummer Night's Dream, and more.  This is how I will always picture Scrooge and company.

Also, when I was a kid, every year I read this cloyingly sentimental Victorian tale called A Bird's Christmas Carol.  I loved Jessie Gillespie's illustrations, with the golden curls and pink cheeks of the dying Carol, who patronizes the large, tacky family next door. I still have my copy, but I don't read it to my kids.  They get freaky about death.  I also couldn't find the right edition on Goodreads, so here's a photo of my copy:
See what I mean about patronizing?

The holiday books I love to read with my kids deserve their own list.  We unwrap about 30 books each year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I usually am tempted into picking up more at the library and bookstore.  These are my personal favorites (in most cases, my kids would agree).    None of the books are overtly religious--I was raised Episcopalian and still love the language of St. Luke's King James Bible nativity, but I tend to prefer more family and warm fuzzies than direct Happy Birthday, Jesus stories.  

  1. A wordless book showing the preparation, big day, and wind down of a small town Christmas.  It's pretty white and middle class, but has tons of charm.  I like to think that his publisher insisted on putting his name in the title; otherwise it's mighty egotistical.

  2. It's hard to decide on which Jan Brett book to include. All of her Scandinavian inspired, detail infused work suits the season. My daughter helped me choose this one, the story of a naughty troll who runs away to live with a succession of wild animals before realizing the value of home and family.

  3. The first time I read this Hanukkah story aloud, my kids made me stop, because it made them too sad to hear about a family running out of food during a blizzard. The other night we made it through to the winter miracle of potatoes and apples, not to mention the ever popular motif of adopting stray animals.

  4. We just love Karma Wilson's bouncy rhymes and whimsical forest friends.

  5. My sister bought this for her daughter Emma, and we inherited it. Emma is a practical farm girl who bedazzles a prince. He then proceeds to give her..a partridge in a pear tree. The next day he sends two calling birds, and ANOTHER partridge/pear combo. You know the rest, but remember, girls named Emma are notoriously independent.

  6. I've loved this e.e. cummings poem since I was a kid. In fifth grade, I typed (yes, on a typewriter!) it out and put it in my Secret Santa recipeint's violin case, along with some homemade brownies. When I realized it had been adapted into picture book format, I had to get it.

  7. Read this for the first time today, and it's an instant classic. Frank McCourt tells a story of his mother's sixth Christmas, when she was so worried that the baby Jesus in the church's creche would be too cold that she snatched it out of its manger and brought it home. Funny and sweet.

  8. Another wordless wonder. The snowman a boy has built comes to life at midnight and whisks him off on a dreamy journey.

  9. Santa Claus the World’s Number One Toy Expert (sic)
  In bright reds and greens, with yellow, black, and white accents, this book explains how carefully Santa designs and chooses his gifts. My kids are clinging fiercely to their belief in Santa--now that they are 9 & 11, I was ready to be honest, but they were having none of it. Much of this, I'm sure, has to do with the distinct lack of holiday joy in their lives up until they joined our family three years ago. They agree completely that Santa just KNOWS what you want, sometimes even better than you do.  

I used to not care for Patricia Polacco's books. I don't know if her characters were too homely, or if I just chanced upon a few that hit me wrong, but whatever my problem was, I am OVER IT. I love her stories, her wisdom, and her art. This wonderfully titled book shared the story of how the narrator (who may or may not actually be Ms. Polacco as a child) and her Jewish family bring holiday cheer when their neighbors are all stricken with scarlet fever just before Christmas.

There are a few others out that I'd like to read: Olivia Helps with Christmas and It's Christmas, David! feature two of our favorite characters.  I want to read Christmas Cookies: Bite Sized Holiday Lessons by Amy Krause Rosenthal, because I loved her other Cookies book.  But most of all, I'm busy looking for Christmas Wombat, by the same author/illustrator team that brought us Diary of a Wombat.  So.  Much.  Cuteness.  

Any you agree with? Any you'd recommend? Any that make you want to stab yourself in the eyeball with a candy cane? (I'm lookin' at you, Eloise!)

Also, as long as I'm asking questions--is it weird of me to NOT have ten titles I'm looking forward to in 2016? I was all excited for Winter and The Rest of Us Just Live Here, but now they are out, and I'm good. Plenty of books still on my TBR list (plenty = 986) that I'm looking forward to without having to scout out books that don't even exist yet.


  1. I honestly don't pay much attention to upcoming debut books or authors, either. I went off the board this week and hope I have provided a service at the same time for hoiday shipping tips for book lovers. I love your list of books and will for several of them as I get into my holiday reading. My Top Ten Tuesday list

  2. I adore The Trees of the Dancing Goats! My TTT


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