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Holiday Books Bring Fun to December

Lee Littlewood on

Books about upcoming holidays provide anticipatory excitement and activities for children. These new releases will help kids weather December school days and look forward to holiday celebrations.

"Santa, Please Bring Me a Gnome" by An Swerts; illustrations by Eline van Lindenhuizen; Clavis New York; 28 pages; $17.99.

This homey, whimsical story, translated to English from Dutch, introduces young Tess, who just wants a gnome friend for Christmas. Grandma and Grandpa help her build dollhouse furniture and sew gnome clothing, and Tess leaves an orange slice out for him. But when Christmas morning comes, there's no real gnome downstairs. What Tess does find instead is a letter from Santa explaining that Gerard the Gnome was packed and ready to go until he rescued a scared hamster that needed a home.

The authors' story sweetly and lovingly depicts a child who doesn't get her wish but instead receives a real, living friend: a pet she can care for better than a gnome. Young children will enjoy the happy ending and the funny, rounded illustrations.

"Jingle Bells" by Susan Jeffers; HarperCollins; 32 pages; $17.99.

The classic song "Jingle Bells" has been sung time and time again. What makes Susan Jeffers' new picture book different is her lively winter scenes, large emboldened text, hidden animals and silent side stories on every page. A girl, a boy, a pony and a mischievous dog journey to Grandma's house, and the dog jumps out of the sleigh often to interact with hidden creatures. The group encounters reindeer, a wily fox and numerous other white animals hidden in white brush and snow. And then they find Santa (Grandpa?), who pirouettes on ice with Grandma.

 

This "Jingle Bells" is a perfect, jolly holiday picture book with lots to gaze upon. It also includes a quiz about what animals to find.

"Gift Boxes to Decorate and Make Christmas" by Sarah Walsh; Nosy Crow/Candlewick Press; 50 pages; $15.99.

Engaging children in holiday preparations and decorations is a fun way for them to help. This sturdy, big book of 24 uncolored card-stock boxes to cut out, fold and color lets kids be more involved in the giving aspect of Christmas. Sarah Walsh's artsy, folksy scenes feature gingerbread people, reindeer, ornaments, stockings, owls and other wintry, nonreligious but homey holiday images.

Sparkling stickers to personalize and sections on each box that say, "Colored for you by ..." will give youngsters pride in their gift-giving creations.

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