This year, I was given a last-minute request to read a Christmas book to the Girl Scout Junior troop. Here’s what I found on the shelves.
Under the Christmas Tree by Nikki Grimes. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. HarperCollins, 2002.
This is Coretta Scott King award-winning powerhouse of a team. Nikki Grimes write 23 poems of Christmas time, centering on the African-American experience and illustrated beautifully as ever by Kadir Nelson. We didn’t have time to read the whole book – I read a poem about an ice skating fantasy, since we’d gone ice skating as a troop in the past, and a funny one telling the Christmas tree that the popcorn and candy canes belonged to the child telling the poem. With poems ranging from that humor to meaningful, this is one to look for.
Here Comes Santa Cat by Deborah Underwood and Claudia Rueda. Dial Books, 2014. We read Here Comes the Easter Cat when it first came out, but I hadn’t read this one. Like the other, the cat appears on the left page, holding up signs to communicate with the text, on the right side. In this story, Cat has decided s/he is too naughty to get presents from Santa, so dressing up as Santa must be the only solution! Can the narrator find a way to help Cat? This is hilarious and touching, and went over very well with my group of fourth graders even though it’s probably aimed at a younger audience.
Emma’s Christmas by Irene Trinkas. Orchard Books, 1988.
I dug back into my memory, when my good friend A- recommended this to me 20 years ago. In this twisted picture book version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” Emma is a farmer’s daughter being courted by a very determined prince. She’s just as sure, though, that life in a castle isn’t for her. Will they find a way? What will she do with the flocks of fowl and troops of dancers, lords, pipers, and drummers that keep showing up? This was just background reading while the girls were crafting, but lots of fun. It looks like it’s really popular with teachers, as it makes for a very good multiplication lesson along with the silly story.
I also brought a couple of books on Kwanzaa, because the girls had been asking what it was, and my favorite winter solstice-y picture book, Lucia and the Light. Over the River and Through the Wood, another favorite for reading aloud to groups, was checked out, but I still enjoyed re-reading it myself when it came back!
Doodle Stitching: the Holiday Motif Collection by Aimee Ray. Lark Crafts, 2014.
Not a picture book – I found this craft book at the library and have been selfishly keeping it at home for a couple of loan periods. It’s filled with fairly simple embroidery designs, some with full projects like a sweet shop tea cozy or a stocking with a scene of cute woodland animals sledding, but also some just motifs with instructions that you could put on any project you want. Many of them are Christmassy, but there are plenty of just winter designs and a full page of Hanukkah motifs as well. My daughter and I are dreaming of doing some fun embroidery together over the holidays!