Friday, December 11, 2020

Books At Christmas—For The Young and Young At Heart

" Reading gives us some place to go
when we have to stay where we are. "

Well, that line by Mason Cooley certainly fits for these days, doesn't it? Thank goodness for our books—they have been a boon in these troubling times. It has been several months now since I posted to the Pressing My Books into Service series I began in Spring during the first pandemic lockdown.

We're not out of the woods yet, and since it's nearly Christmas, I want to include a post or two about my favourite books at this time of year. Things are not looking good Covid-wise here in Alberta at the moment. With high numbers testing positive, there are current restrictions for all social gatherings; there are to be no gatherings, including Christmas, until early January. So I once again draw solace from my dear old books to help pass the time and buoy my spirits.

Today I want to share five books from my shelf that fit in the young readers category—the child in me ever continues to delight in them. I love children's book of all sorts, but especially beautifully illustrated picture books, of which there are three in this list. These children's books have been my friends for a long time, and I am happy to share a browse with you today.

* * *

But first....I can't talk about Christmas books without also fondly remembering my old childhood favourites, stories such as:
- A Visit From St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore - I loved this story especially when it was read aloud to us. Who can forget the opening lines: 'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house.
- Egermeier's Bible Story Book, Illustrated by Providence Lithograph Co. - I loved to read the Christmas stories and especially adored those beautifully illustrated pictures of the manger scene, the shepherds tending sheep on the dark hillside, and the Wise Men following the Star to Bethlehem; I'd read the story and study the pictures for hours.

- The Christmas Story as told from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2. I grew up hearing the  King James Version. The opening line was as exciting to me as any story that began with 'once upon a time'.... "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed...". 

- Heidi by Johanna Spyri - reading it at Christmas imagining all that snow high in the Alps and the evergreens sighing in the wind while Heidi slept in the attic of her Grandfather's chalet, sleighing with him to the village below, toasting bread and cheese on the open fire.
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - I never tired of the delightful accounts of when the girls buy little gifts for Marmee, find their little books under their pillows on Christmas morning, practice their lines for their holiday entertainment, and take their Christmas breakfast to the sick family.
- The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen - reading how a little girl shivered in the cold as she tried to warm herself by lighting the match sticks. How I shivered and was so glad for my warm house and good food and loving parents. 

" Before they read words,
children are reading pictures. "


Text by Margaret Wise Brown
 Illustrations by Anne Mortimer

This delightful story by Margaret Wise Brown was first published in 1949 and was republished years later with Anne Mortimer as its illustrator. I didn't know this book as a child, but I have loved it ever since I discovered it more than a decade ago. It's a picture book with a 'simple, rhythmic story' and winsome watercolour illustrations that invites young readers to follow along with Pussycat as she learns Christmas is coming, plays in the snow, and watches Christmas preparations get underway. If you love pictures books, if you love Christmas, or if you love kitty cats, you will love this storybook.

" She heard the rustle of tissue paper, the whisper of snow,
and the twinkle of bells. She smelled the sharp tangy smell of candles,
and nuts  and apples. And she saw the sparkling gold, silver, and blue lights
on the tree. This, to Pussycat, was Christmas Eve. "


A Book of Picture Riddles
Photographs by Walter Wick
Riddles by Jean Marzollo

This Level 1 reader entertains children and adults alike as they solve the riddles and play I Spy in search for the hidden objects. Believe me, it's not as easy or quick as one might think. Settle in with your cup of cocoa, put on your thinking cap, clean your eyeglasses, and have a whirl.

" I spy an ice cube, a little twist of lime,
A carrot for a nose, a slim silver dime; "


by Trisha Romance
"A gentle old carpenter who has spent his whole life in the service of others has finally begun to build his own home in a quiet meadow, with nothing but a small reindeer to keep him company. Finishing by winter seems like an impossible task, but the carpenter reaps the years of kindness he has sown, and his neighbors return his love by helping complete his new home by Christmas. He has a wonderful surprise in store for them, making this Christmas one that everyone will cherish forever."   

A beautiful story for the young and for the young at heart. I had the lovely opportunity to meet Trisha Romance in person as she autographed my book when she visited our community. It was a special moment for me. If you like Trisha's art, you will find this beautifully written and illustrated book most enchanting.

"Won’t you be lonely?" the youngest one asked.

With smiling eyes, the carpenter answered,
"Don’t worry. I’m not alone. Does the moon feel lonely in a sky full of stars?"



and Other Holiday Stories
By L.M. Montgomery (1874 - 1942)
Edited by Rea Wilmshurst

I bought this book one Christmas with full intentions of giving it as a gift to a young niece. I'm not sure what happened as some time later I found it still in my possession. Perhaps I'd put it away and when Christmas came I forgot I had it. Now, all these years later, my nieces are all grown up, and it's become a part of my small collection of holiday books.

This anthology of sixteen short stories features some well-loved characters from the Anne books, as well as plenty of new characters. It celebrates the joys and tribulations of Christmas and the hope of the new year--stories of happy reunions, the ending of a family feud, a Christmas hamper that saves the day in a snowstorm, to name a few. Included are two chapters (favourites for me) from the Anne novels: Matthew Insists on Puffed Sleeves (Anne of Green Gables) and Katherine Brooke Comes To Green Gables (Anne of Windy Poplars). Anyone who enjoys LMM's writing will undoubtedly enjoy these stories written in the author's charming style we have come to recognize and love.

L.M. Montgomery wrote many short stories for various publications over her lifetime as a writer, and it was through the careful curation by Editor Rea Wilmshurst that many of these lost stories have been rediscovered and republished. Christmas With Anne is one such book.


Jan Brett's
G.P. Putnam's Sons, a division of 
Penquin Putnam Books for Young Readers
This is a real favourite. Rick gave it to me for Christmas one year. I was thrilled as I had already come to love and appreciate Jan Brett's gorgeous artwork and had presented copious copies to the children in my life. Ms Brett is fabulous at colour and detail and making your imagination sizzle.

This Christmas Treasury contains seven of her most famous and best-selling books: The Mitten, The Wild Christmas Reindeer, Trouble with Trolls, The Twelve Days of Christmas, The Hat, Christmas Trolls, The Night Before Christmas. When it first came out, a review by The New Yorker said, "No one can render snow and Scandinavian winter more gorgeously than Jan Brett." I must agree.

It's a collection for readers of all ages—the stories are appealing, the artwork is sublime.

" Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and
love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for
having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime. "

* * *

I hope you get a chance to read a children's Christmas book this season. The best fun would be to read it with a child, but that will not be possible for many of us this year. At least not in person; I imagine reading is not quite the same on Zoom. No snuggles or wiggles but you could get the giggles. It can still make memories for the future, and that's got to be a lovely thing.

Wishing you a beautiful weekend.
Heart Hugs,
♥ ♥ ♥

Photo Credits:
(Top) Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay
(Second) Image by sobima from Pixabay
 (Remainder) photos by Brenda C Leyland (that's me!)


  1. Oh what a pleasure it must have been to meet Tricia Romance. I love her artwork. A favourite piece of hers I can only see in my mind’s eye at the moment - that of a little girl in green hat and coat trimmed in fur, peering into a toy store window from the sidewalk on a twinkly, snowy evening.

    Reading to children via video chat ... not quite the same as in person, but I’ve been reading to my grandchildren that way, two books in particular for the last few months, and now they are reading them to me!

    Thank you for your cozy Christmassy post. ☺️🎄

    1. What fun, to imagine, that your grands are now reading to you! It was a real treat to meet Tricia Romance in person after having loved her art for years. And I do know the painting you are talking about...what a lovely depiction of innocence in childhood at Christmas.

  2. I think we all need to go back to childhood sometime, and more so now than ever. We can recapture the innocence, the waiting, the expectations of Christmes in the stories you have suggested. I dont know all of them, but would love to read so many again.

    1. Like you, I do think we need to let the child in us help us to remember those moments of innocence and beauty.

  3. I love all of those books especially the Anne books. I had a copy of a Golden Book The Joys of Christmas (1976) that I used to read to my daughter. I loved The Olden Days Coat by Margaret Laurence and The Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco. In long ago days of teaching, we used to have a much taped three dimensional Nativity book that appeared on my desk each year. The students loved it but it would be inappropriate in a school setting now. There are so many lovely Christmas books.

    1. The book title you mention, Madame La-Bas, I am not familiar with but now I have the opportunity to snoop them out. What a lovely tradition of setting out that three dimensional Nativity book on your teacher desk. It certainly speaks of an earlier time in our personal history.

  4. So many of your books are also my favourites. Heidi is one of them. I have no copy of any of the Heidi books just now, and I think I will begin looking for them. One of our children's favourites was "Johann's Gift to Christmas" by Jack Richards, that tells the tale of a little hungry churchmouse who nibbled the leather of the organ bellows because he was so hungry. Since the organ was rendered useless for Christmas Eve service, the school master came up with a new song - Silent Night. Charming illustrations of the little mouse set in the Tyrol of Austria make it one of my favourites.

    1. I used to really like the Johann's Gift to Christmas as a child. I just remembered as you mentioned it.

  5. Yes, during these times we all find ways to keep our minds focused on the good and the positive . Books are a wonderful way to do that.

    1. Books are His good gifts to the world. Being the Word, it fits, doesn't it? :)

  6. I've added some of these to my wish list...some of my favorite authors. Right now we're really enjoying Jan Brett's Gingerbread Baby.

    1. That Gingerbread Baby must be fun, I haven't seen that one. Have fun!

  7. I see a number of my own favorites; a wonderful collection!

  8. What a lovely post this is! Reading to my children was one of my favorite parts of being a mother! (Truth be told, I still miss it greatly.) So it was a pleasure to me to take a peek at some of your favorites, and I saw some familiar friends there in your list. Both Heidi and Little Women were my favorites as a girl, and I loved reading those to my own children. I love Patricia Pollaco and also loved another of her holiday books, An Orange for Frankie. Another childhood favorite (I remember my own mother reading it aloud) is The Birds' Christmas Carol, so very tender but with some delightful touches of humor. I have to say that not all of my children loved it as I did. It is sentimental and very "Victorian" . . . but I can't read it with a dry eye.

    1. It had always been a dream of mine to be able to read to my own children. I didn't have my own, but I tried to snuggle up with nieces and nephews--when they'd let me-- to read. I think I remember The Birds' Christmas Carol from my childhood, probably a book I borrowed from the school library. Our library is closed for the next few weeks due to Covid, otherwise I'd go in and look for it.

  9. Brenda, all your selections look wonderful. I am familiar with some, not all. My favorite is "Christmas with Anne." I took it from the shelf yesterday evening. It is a treasure I read every year.

    1. Sandra, I'll imagine you reading it as I'm doing the same this thing over here!

  10. I'm sorry that things are so bad in your area, Brenda. I've been cautious all along but am really concerned about the winter months and have cancelled all doctor and dental appointments, planning to truly hibernate if possible. And books will be my lifesaver too! I've written down Trisha Romance's book and will see if I can get it here before Christmas. What a wonderful last name for an author! I gave almost all of my younger children's Christmas books to our granddaughters when they were born and love knowing that they're getting read to another generation. But-- I miss those books myself! I'm tempted to get the Margaret Wise Brown book for myself! I must have read Goodnight Moon a jillion times to my kids at bedtime. Happy reading, Brenda, doctor's orders!

    1. Ha Dewena, I'm happy to follow the doctor's orders on that prescription! We've been cautious, we'll hunker down and ride it out. There are better days ahead, I see a wee light at the end of the tunnel. Keep safe!

  11. This has already been THE year for Christmas stories, for me. Thank you for sharing about several I didn't know of!


To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xo