If your family is like mine, certain holiday storybooks come out once a year to savor under the covers. Maybe you also like to give books to an eager reader or reader-to-be. We've selected 10 new titles that celebrate Christmastime, winter, traditions and the season of giving.
Written and illustrated by Edward Hemingway – Published by Henry Holt, 40 pages, $17.99 – Ages 4-8
In this sweet, silly twist on the classic gingerbread man tale, author-illustrator Edward Hemingway (youngest grandson of Ernest Hemingway and Louisan Pauline Pfeiffer) takes readers on a journey through Christmastown, where Fox helps the not-very-sweet Sugar Cookie Man find where he belongs. Adults and children will enjoy looking for their favorite smiling, anthropomorphic cupcake and cookie characters, and adults will snicker at their visits to the gated community of "Cookie Cutter" and the Christmastown Spa. The book ends with recipes for versions of the cookie man for eating or decorating.
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'The Broken Ornament'
Written and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi – Published by Simon & Schuster, 48 pages, $17.99 – Ages 4-8
Jack can't get enough of Christmas and helps his parents trim the tree – until he doesn't listen to his mother and accidentally breaks an heirloom ornament. He gets help from a fairy named Tinsel, who evokes fantastical holiday scenes in the family's living room with the wave of a sprig of mistletoe. She shows him the value of family traditions and holidays past and gives Jack the perfect idea to make things right. The illustrations touch on traditions by showing Jack and his parents in matching holiday jammies, while giving him a magical look into the past through the window of a gingerbread house. This story perfectly weaves together the stresses, nostalgia and magic experienced by many families during the holiday season.
'Pete the Cat's 12 Groovy Days of Christmas'
By Kimberly and James Dean; illustrated by James Dean – Published by HarperCollins, 48 pages, $12.99 – Ages 4-8
Sleepy-eyed Pete the Cat strikes again, this time, in the 12 groovy days of a cartoonish road trip in a yellow Volkswagen-esque bus to the sea. Each day gets sillier as Pete picks up more passengers, and it ends in a rollicking ugly-Christmas-sweater beach party. They might need more than three yummy cupcakes and five onion rings for sustenance, though. This story is a quick, silly hit that will get kids giggling and singing along.
'Winter Is Here'
By Kevin Henkes; illustrated by Laura Dronzek – Published by Greenwillow, 40 pages, $17.99 – Ages 4-8
Acrylic paintings that spill off the pages set the scenes throughout this book, an exploration of the long winter season's juxtapositions: soft snow and hard ice, its presence inside and outside, its silence and howling winds. Winter's journey, difficult and serene as it may be, ends with the full-page color spread that is spring. The simple, lyrical text and rich, soft illustrations work together to provide the perfect, snuggle-under-the-covers storytime experience.
By Lou Peacock; illustrated by Helen Stephens – Published by Nosy Crow, 32 pages, $16.99 – Ages 2-5
Noah goes shopping with his mom, baby sister Evie-May and beloved stuffed toy Oliver Elephant, thinking of what Christmas gifts their relatives would like. As they check items off their list, Noah gives Oliver Elephant a sock to try on his trunk and plays peekaboo with Evie-May. But after their long day of shopping, Noah realizes Oliver Elephant is gone. Parents and children will love the bustling, colorful illustrations and rhyming, rhythmic text depicting all-too-familiar holiday errands and the ordeal of looking for a missing, beloved toy. (Spoiler alert: The shopping trip ends on a happy note.)
'My Little Gifts: A Book of Sharing'
By Jo Witek; illustrated by Christine Roussey – Published by Abrams, 30 pages, $16.99 – Ages 2-4
A little girl opens presents for an unspecified holiday and learns that gifts don't necessarily come in wrapped boxes. Each page includes a flap or multiple flaps to open, adding to the surprise and lessons. Presents can be shared and taught and handmade. They can even come in the form of kind words, a soft touch or shared knowledge. When the girl learns about bees at school, she comes home to tell her sister, Lili. "Lili asks for more, more, more! I feel like the queen bee! Knowledge is a gift as sweet as honey." This book, full of playful, doodled illustrations set against stark white backgrounds, teaches valuable lessons for older children and even adults.
'I Got the Christmas Spirit'
By Connie Schofield- Morrison; illustrated by Frank Morrison – Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books, 32 pages, $16.99 – Ages 3-6
A mother and daughter explore the city during the holiday season, taking in the sounds and rhythm ("Bling bling!" "Zoom zing!"). Frank Morrison's exuberant illustrations capture the energy of both the girl and a snowy, gritty city. The simple language augments the bigger story told through the book's oil paintings that teem with color and movement: a needy family on a street corner asking for help, snow swirling in front of graffiti-tagged buildings, and a visit with Santa to spread smiles and cheer. This book would be ideal for a preschool storytime: After you get snapping and moving, talk about how the girl gives and receives the Christmas spirit.
'Little Christmas Tree'
Written and illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle – Published by Big Picture Press, 12 pages, $15.99 – Ages 2-5
The pages of this lift-the-flap book with foil-accented digital illustrations could stand up as holiday decor on their own. Each page depicts a new, snowy scene in the winter woods, with animals and plants hiding behind the cardboard flaps. Some flaps are a little tricky to find, which can add to the surprise, and some may be too small for less-gentle hands. A simple, rhyming verse on each page enhances the striking, sparkling displays and flap-lifting fun.
'Little Fox in the Snow'
By Jonathan London; illustrated by Daniel Miyares – Published by Candlewick, 40 pages, $16.99 – Ages 4-8
A fox ventures from his den on a seemingly peaceful, snowy journey. The suspense rises and falls as he hunts a mouse and then a rabbit before being stalked by a vicious-looking wolverine. He escapes and finally makes his way back to his warm, safe den, where he dreams of another day. This book's sweeping, snowy watercolor illustrations set the stage for a reading full of suspenseful pauses and descriptive details.
'The Snowy Nap'
Written and illustrated by Jan Brett – Published by Putnam, 32 pages, $18.99 – Ages 4-8
As Hedgie rambles around the farm headed for his long winter's nap, animals tease him about all the fun he's going to miss. What child who has ever fought bedtime for fear of missing out can't identify? So with the help of a girl named Lisa, the hedgehog gets to have fun from a cozy spot on a windowsill. Brett's rich watercolor and gouache illustrations evoke coziness (the background of the border illustrations look like a knitted sweater) and lively barnyard fun that doesn't always stay outdoors.