The first Pete the Cat’s picture book was (self) published in 2008. Now, there are several best-selling picture books about Pete and more will be arriving in early 2014.
In Pete the Cat Saves Christmas Santa is sick and in bed. He doesn’t want to cancel Christmas so he calls Pete the Cat and asks him to take care of his Christmas Eve toy delivery. Pete decides that despite his small stature, he can take care of the monumental job. Pete climbs into his mini bus and heads for the North Pole. With the help of some very cat-like elves, Pete loads up his minibus, he hitches up Santa’s reindeer and takes off.
Fans of Pete the Cat will enjoy his can-do attitude, his signature song and his enthusiasm for getting an important job done right!
Poor Llama Llama. December seems to be all about waiting. The days just don’t pass quickly enough. There is shopping to do and there are choices to make. There are cookies to bake and presents to wrap. It is just too much!
To much music, too much fluff
Too much making, too much stuff!
Too much everything for Llama…”
Thankfully Mama Llama stops everything and reminds LLama that the best gift of all is spending time with someone we love.
Readers will infer that Llama Llama is excited about Christmas given the references to a December calendar and gift giving along with a tree, Santa and a Christmas stocking in the illustrations but the story itself does not refer to Christmas. In addition to Christmas references, we see a Menorah and Challah bread and Llama plays with a dreidel.
Young children and their parents will recognize that any celebration can be stress-inducing for adults and children. Llama Llama Holiday Drama is a reminder to slow things down and make lots of time for snuggles.
The Night Before Christmas written by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Barbara Reid Traditional Christmas poem published by North Winds Press an imprint of Scholastic Canada
Accomplished award-winning author-illustrator Barbara Reid rethinks Clement Moore’s traditional poem, imagining a large family of mice bedding down on Christmas Eve. Home is a snow-caovered hollow log, filled with small treasures including coins, buttons, wooden blocks, nails, popsicle sticks and spools. Youngsters will be captivated by the family’s repurposed home furnishings and the busy family. Poor Mama and Papa Mouse must be exhausted. As some their many children cavort in bunk beds, one reads a book under the covers and another hopes for a glass of water before going to sleep.
We like Ms. Reid’s choice to leave the traditional poem untouched but to replace an oft-seen illustration of Santa smoking a pipe with one of him enjoying yummy candy-cane.
Barbara Reid’s inventive take on The Night Before Christmas is one that will captivate children aged three and up. It will be enjoyed in a group read aloud setting but will be most appreciated by those who have a chance to carefully examine the wonderful illustrations created using Plasticine.
Wow – Twas the Night Before Christmas: Edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century may just be one of the most controversial picture books we’ve written about! Readers appear sharply divided on whether the famous poem by Clement C. Moore ought to be edited to remove references to smoking and a pipe.
In this recent adaptation of the classic poem, Pamela McColl has removed these stanzas from the poem we know so well.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
Is this censorship or is it a case of adapting a poem for 21st century sensibilities?
I am ‘mom’ to two boys and I share Ms. McColl’s aversion to smoking. Unlike her, I’ve never smoked a cigarette. In fact, despite reading Twas the Night Before Christmas dozens (if not hundreds) of times, I have never been tempted to try smoking tobacco or anything else. Smoking has never appealed to me and the fact that Clement Moore’s Santa Claus smokes a pipe has not influenced my opinion favorably or unfavorably about the habit.
For those who feel that Mr. Moore’s classic poem could sway an impressionable child, Twas the Night Before Christmas: Edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century may provide a solution. We suspect most children will not miss the lines from the poem, nor will they miss the pipe or the smoke – instead they will dream of sugar plums and a bounty of gifts delivered by an elf.
Disney-like illustrations will appeal to some children however others may ask why dozens of candles and a roaring fireplace are left burning while the family sleeps and a table lamp sits nearby. Those who look carefully will notice that some of the Christmas stockings change color.
This is a picture book that will appeal to some book buyers – simply because of the stance taken on smoking. Unfortunately, the illustrations are disappointing and lack artistry.
I can’t imagine the Christmas holidays without our special collection of Christmas picture books. Earlier this month, Jody shared her favourites. I have finally put together my own post. Jody and I both love The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore, illustrated by Christian Birmingham and read it on Christmas Eve. I decided to write about a different version of the poem and mention that reading the same text with different illustrations is great for youngsters. It encourages taking a thoughtful look at the illustrations and making comparisons.
The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Jan Brett Christmas picture book published by Putnam Juvenile
This version of the classic Christmas poem is filled to the brim with wonderful extras. Each beautiful two-page spread is framed with details that might otherwise never be seen. As reindeer are prancing and pawing on the roof, we get a glimpse of some special tree ornaments, Santa Claus appears in the fireplace and anxious Pa quickly descends the stairs.
The Polar Express written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg Christmas picture book published by Houghton Mifflin
Long before The Polar Express was made into a movie, it was a Caldecott Award winning Christmas picture book. When a friend says, “There is no Santa,” a young boy hopes desperately that his friend is incorrect. On Christmas Eve, he goes to bed and listens intently for the sound of sleigh bells. He does not hear sleigh bells but rather hissing and clanging. He looks out his bedroom window and is amazed to see an enormous train, waiting outside his house.
A magical story, The Polar Express will encourage children and adults to believe in the magic of Christmas.
Christmas picture books are in a class of their own.
At home, we always keep our Christmas picture books separate from the rest of the piles. We pull them out in late November and tuck them away at the end of the season with all of the other decorations. Just like when we unwrap each ornament that has been packed away for a year, pulling out each story is equally exciting. We forget which ones we have over the year or which new ones we may have purchased at the end of the season and stored away. Over the years, we’ve read many different Christmas tales, but some stay with you throughout the season and beyond.
The Night Before Christmas illustration by Christian Birmingham
Here are some of my favourite Christmas picture books…
The Night Before Christmas written by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Christian Birmingham Christmas picture book published by Running Press Kids
The classic tale that we all know; I love reading this every Christmas Eve. It makes me think of my mom, who recites the words along with me as I read because she knows it by heart. I love that the wonderment of Christmas is displayed through an adult’s eyes.
Are you Grumpy Santa? by Gregg & Evan Spiridellis Christmas Picture Book published by Disney-Hyperion
This is, hands down, one of the cutest Christmas books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Just like anyone else, Santa can only take so much and finally becomes grumpy when nothing goes his way. The rhyme and the pictures are great. It never fails to amuse me, regardless of how many times I read it.
Queen of Christmas by Mary Engelbreit Christmas picture book published by HarperCollins
I have always enjoyed Mary Engelbreit’s illustrations. I often buy calendars with her pictures because they are sweet and have nice phrases on them. I purchased this book a few years ago and the illustrations are beautiful. It’s the story of a young girl who is working hard to finish her incredibly long Christmas list before Christmas Eve. Of course, in the end, she learns it’s not what’s on the list that counts. When I purchased this book, it came with a paper doll and clothes, which my children love as much as the book.
Christmas Around the World by Chuck Fischer Christmas Pop Up Book published by Little, Brown and Company
My mom gave me this book a couple years ago. You are never too old for a good pop up book. Just this morning, my youngest opened one of the pages and said, “Wow! Mommy, look at this Christmassy page!” Featuring a number of different countries, it includes pull outs, interesting facts, and beautiful images.
Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer
Christmas Picture Book published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
I can’t help but love every Olivia book and pairing her with my favourite holiday is just a bonus. As they wait for Santa to finally arrive, Olivia finds many ways to help her mom. My favourite part is when she makes a special mini Christmas tree “centre piece”.
Aside from reading to my own children, I love the joy my students get from these picture books. Though we teach differently in the intermediate grades, there is no age, or grade, limit for enjoying these stories.
Last evening my nine year old son and I snuggled up and shared an incredible Christmas pop-up book, The 12 Days of Christmas Anniversary Edition by Robert Sabuda. I was somewhat familiar with Mr. Sabuda’s artistry but this book is truly extraordinary. My son was enthralled and first called, “Daddy, Daddy, You’ve got to see this!” and then, “I have to take this to ‘share’ at school!”
The 12 Days of Christmas Anniversary Edition created by Robert Sabuda Christmas pop-up book published by Little Simon
Truly a spectactular pop up book, The 12 Days of Christmas is a visual delight from beginning to end. Gorgeous, mainly white, paper cut outs of a partridge, turtle doves, french hens, include a music box, scissors and a snow globe. The final spread, which includes a lit Christmas tree, is fabulous.
Mr. Sabuda’s website is well worth a visit as he provides detailed instructions for ‘simple’ pops ups you can make.
Kids in the Holiday Kitchen written by Jessica Strand and Tammy Massman-Johnson with photographs by James Baigrie Cookbook highlighting Baking with Kids published by Chronicle Books
This is a wonderful time of year to engage young children in baking and cooking. Although messy at times, baking with kids and preparing yummy treats to share with others will create memories to last a lifetime – for you and your children. I remember creating sticky and lopsided gingerbread houses with my young boys. I think they ate more of the “decorations” than they actually managed to attach to the houses! Another year, we helped Grandma bake cookies because she was recovering from a stroke and couldn’t manage by herself. The kitchen was a disaster afterwards but the laughter, memories and delicious goodies more than compensated.
Kids in the Holiday Kitchen is a fun holiday book that is sure to inspire you and your children. Offering recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts as well as craft ideas, the photographs will have you reaching for cookie cutters, rolling pins and icing sugar.
Meet the authors and hear about the book on YouTube
It is Christmas Eve and Fletcher Fox’s rabbit friends have moved into a new burrow. Fletcher suddenly realizes that Santa won’t know about the rabbits’ new home. Together with his forest friends, Fletcher uses sticks to leave a trail of arrows for Santa to follow through the woodland. Unfortunately, a snowfall on December 24th conceals the signs the animals left for Santa. What happens next is truly magical…
Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas uses rich description and evocative, pastel illustrations to tell a heartwarming story of friendship. A great addition to your holiday bookshelf. A highly recommended Christmas picture book for children aged four and up.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Connect with Us!
Links to Seasonal Themes
Links to Special Themes
Links to Our Favorite Series
We NEVER get paid to review products on this site.
In some cases, I receive books to review free of charge. In other cases I review books that I have purchased or have borrowed from a public library. Whether I receive a book free of charge or not does not influence my review.
If you have questions or concerns about our policies, please do not hesitate to email for details.