In celebration of the virgin birth, I am giving my readers a collection of reviews of Xmas related books today.
The Twelve Terrors of Christmas by John Updike with illustrations by Edward Gorey (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29019.The_Twelve_Terrors_of_Christmas)
I really enjoyed this sort of anti-Christmas book. It points out how weird the Christmas holiday really is. Isn’t the idea of Santa going down the chimney really strange?
Scared of Santa: Scenes of Terror in Toyland by Denise Joyce and Nancy Watkins (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3675574-scared-of-santa)
How this book got published, I will never know.
It is full of hundreds of photos of kids sitting on Santa’s lap, crying, screaming, trying to escape. Yep, the whole theme of this book is getting a laugh out of the misery of little children.
Don’t get me wrong, twenty-five or thirty photos of kids having negative reactions to Santa Claus might have been funny. However, hundreds and hundreds of the same kinds of pictures quickly becomes totally boring. Yawn!
The captions are even worse than the photos. I’m sure the caption writers were trying to be clever, but most of what they came up with is just plain dumb.
I can’t imagine who would buy this book. (I borrowed the copy I read from my public library, and I’m a bit miffed that my tax dollars were spent on this dreck.) Will families buy this book and look at it lovingly every year until it becomes part of their family tradition? Yikes!
Merry Christmas Ernest and Celestine by Gabrielle Vincent (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/447764.Merry_Christmas_Ernest_and_Celestine)
My sister gave me this book. I love it because the (adult male) bear and the (little girl) mouse who live together go dumpster diving to get the supplies they need for a Christmas party. This book shows kids a non-typical family and that it’s ok to get what one needs out of other people’s trash. Hasn’t the Christian right banned this book yet?
The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Holidays by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/790197.The_Worst_Case_Scenario_Survival_Handbook)
This book is hilarious. It gives all sorts of simple step by step instructions for surviving whatever catastrophe may befall your holiday season. I love this whole series.
Hilary Knight’s The Twelve Days of Christmas by Hilary Knight (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1417921.Hilary_Knight_s_the_Twelve_Days_of_Christmas)
This is another Christmas book from my childhood.
It’s the traditional “The Twelve Days of Christmas Song” paired up with lovely pictures. An anthropomorphic bear giving the presents to his bear lady love. (I just found out a female bear is called a sow, just like a pig. A male is a boar.) It’s the super cute illustrations that make this book worth reading.
My very favorite part is the supporting character raccoon cat (ha!) burglar trying to open a tightly closed trash can.
The Twelve Days of Christmas in California by Laura Rader (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6851913-the-twelve-days-of-christmas-in-california)
The emphasis of this book is on California, not on Christmas. I think even a family who doesn’t celebrate Xmas (but does like California) could like this book.
There are three components of this book.
#1 Bright color illustrations showing the California themed things (4 hummingbirds, 6 otters smiling, 12 redwoods swaying) that the California cousin gives to her young relative from out of state. The illustrations are nice.
#2 The basic story of “On the first day of Christmas…On the second day of Christmas…”, etc. This short version of the story is in bold print and would be appropriate for young children (toddlers) who can’t sit through a long, involved story.
#3 The longer, involved story, told through letters written by the visiting cousin to his parents back home. These letters include lots of additional information about whatever California-related thing the kid received from the cousin that particular day. These letters are appropriately read to or by an older kid who can sit through the longer story.
The book contains a LOT of facts about California. A kid in elementary school could use this book at any time of year to do a report on the Golden State.
One thing I didn’t like about this book was “Cali” the “talking” California valley quail (the California state bird). The book did NOT need the gimmick of a talking quail.
One thing I did like about the book is that except for the talking quail and the small redwood tree she comes in, the cousin doesn’t actually give any physical items. Most 12 Days of Christmas stories are overrun with the consumerism of a dozen pear trees and a score of gold rings.
Cajun Night Before Christmas by Howard Jacobs, illustrated by James Rice (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/910399.Cajun_Night_Before_Christmas)
My sister and I had a copy of this book when we were little. I don’t know where it came from.
My cousin Denise’s husband Mark could do the accent for reading this book, as could my dad. I don’t think I could do it so well, but I haven’t tried for years.
This is the classic Christmas story told with a Cajun twist and illustrated beautifully. No Cajun household is complete without a copy.