This book by Eve Bunting is another one suited best for very young children. It asks each animal in turn who was born on Christmas day and each replies in verse about their own birth. It then ends of course with recognizing that it was the child that was born on Christmas day.
The good thing about this book is that if you love the TV special it will remind you of that. It may be one of the few times I’ll say the TV/movie version is better than the book. Like most kids of my generation, I have fond memories of waiting every year for Charlie Brown to be on TV. David and John both love the DVD we have of Charlie Brown Christmas. This version of the book is an “adapted from the TV show” edition and is actually not by Charles Schulz (the illustrations are even done by someone else in his style). And it doesn’t really work as a book the way it is done. The worst part is where they try to capture Schroeder’s music in words “ba-ba-da-ba ba-da-ba-bum-daaa-dum”. It’s so flat you wish they hadn’t tried. Still, it’s fun to read just for the familiar characters and story.
This version of the Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats is just about perfect. I love this carol and I love Keats as a children’s author and illustrator.
David is at the age where he is learning to count and beginning to understand the concept of numbers beyond just memorizing them. He enjoys counting books of all kinds. These are two great Christmas counting books. Christmas for 10 by Catherine Falwell follows a family as they get ready together for Christmas. It’s nice seeing an African-American family depicted in the book and the collage style pictures are bright and cheerful. Nancy Tafuri’s Counting to Christmas shows a little girl counting down the days to Christmas as she bakes, makes cards, decorates her tree and even makes presents for the animals around her.
This book by Kate DiCamillo is definitely more suited to older children. It’s about a little girl who sees an organ grinder and monkey out of her window. She discovers that they have nowhere to go at night and worries about this and them. At the same time she is preparing for a role in a Christmas pageant. The book deals with the hard subject of homelessness, although in a slightly subtle way and introduces the idea that not everyone is happy at Christmas. I like it for the compassion and empathy that the girl shows and that the message is ultimately that of loving your neighbor, which is very consistent with the true meaning of Christmas. The ending is slightly abrupt and leaves you with a slightly ambiguous feeling. It’s not a solidly happy ending, although not sad either. In all honesty, it’s a book I want to like more than I actually do.