Trying to celebrate a holiday season that includes masks, social distancing, and potential shut-downs might have you feeling like the spirit of Christmas is nowhere to be found this year. May I suggest setting aside some time to enjoy the spirit that can always be found on the pages of Christmas picture books? My Christmas wish is that this month’s picture book favorites will not only bring you some cheer, but also help prepare you for what will surely be a Christmas like no other, a 2020 Christmas. Enjoy!
“The Christmas Barn” written and illustrated by John and Jennifer Churchman (Copyright 2020, Little Bee Books) begins with an autumn storm that causes an old pine tree to fall in the forest. Farmer John and his wife, Jennifer, decide to give the old tree a new life by using it to make a “special Christmas gift” for the animals. Complemented beautifully by photo-illustration, the story follows the process, as observed by the farm animals, of transforming the fallen pine tree into a new home for them. On Christmas Eve, they are welcomed inside, where a special bed is waiting for Joy the alpaca, who gives birth that night to a tiny cria that Farmer John names Hope. The story ends with the old pine tree having truly become “a Christmas barn for everyone.” At the end of the book are two pages describing Moonrise Farm in Vermont and the true story that inspired this heartwarming book. To learn more, please visit http://www.themoonrisefarm.com.
“Mistletoe: A Christmas Story” written and illustrated by Tadd Hills (Copyright 2020, Schwartz & Wade Books) celebrates Christmas with a snow-loving mouse named Mistletoe and her best friend, an elephant named Norwell. When snow begins to fall and it finally “feels like Christmas,” Mistletoe asks Norwell to come outside and play. Norwell, thinking it’s too cold, gets her to come inside instead, where they share a warm fire, have tea and cookies, and decorate his Christmas tree together. On her way home, Mistletoe has an idea for the perfect Christmas gift for her friend. After much hard work, she finishes it just in time for Christmas. When they exchange gifts, Norwell gives Mistletoe a painting that pictures her standing in snow, because she loves snow. She gives him a colorful snowsuit that she knitted so he would be warm while they’re out walking together in the snow. This sweet book, with its cheerful illustrations that were created in the Procreate digital app, shows the fun of sharing Christmastime with friends.
“If I Could Give You Christmas” written by Lynn Plourde and illustrated by Jennifer L. Meyer (Copyright 2019, Disney Hyperion imprint of Disney Book Group) presents some of the tastes, sights, smells, and sounds of the Christmas season as animals in the winter forest celebrate the joy that can be found in sharing them with each other. This book, with gorgeous illustrations that will have you pausing to admire them, also serves as a reminder that the best gifts of all “don’t have a bow.”
“The Christmas Story” written by Jane Werner Watson and illustrated by Eloise Wilkin (Copyright 1952, Golden Books, renewed 1980, Penguin Random House) is a timeless vintage retelling of the biblical account of Christ’s birth, told in a storybook that is also filled with wonderfully memorable, detailed illustrations. Jane Werner Watson (1915-2004) served as the editor of the original Little Golden Books, while writing quite a few of them as well. One of my all-time favorite illustrators, Eloise Wilkin (1904-1987), illustrated dozens of Little Golden Books during her long career.
If you have a favorite picture book about Christmas to recommend, I’d love to hear about it.
Merry Christmas 😊