Must Reads for Book Reviewers
Waiting for Snow

Good-bye, Hanukkah. Hello, Christmas.

Greetings, readers. We had such a ball with the Hanukkah books. Eric Kimmel's stories, in particular, are well-suited to the older picture-book reader. From the list that bloggers and other readers assembled this year and last, my eight year old loved Kimmel's Zigazak! A Magical Hanukkah Night and The Magic Dreidels. At school, Junior's teacher read Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins, which he now wants to own. Zimmel is far from sweetsy. In Zigazak!, two main characters are devils, and in The Magic Dreidels, someone tricks a child and steals the beloved toys. Good trumps bad in the end of both books, but the glimpses of clear wrong-doing lend some intrigue.

I liked Hanukkah Moon, by Deborah Da Costa, which tells of a little girl spending the holidays with a beloved aunt who's just moved from Mexico. The story incorporates some Hispanic Hanukkah traditions.

So, how about Christmas and New Year's books for eight-year-old readers? What are some good ones? Older books that folks can find at the library are just fine. We have the Grinch, of course, and Shanté Keys and the New Year's Peas, which highlights a variety of cultural approaches to January 1st. I wrote about that book (it's a lot of fun) during Robert's Snow: Blogging for a Cure, when the artist Marion Eldridge was featured here.


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I loved a book called "The Thirteen Days of Christmas" by Jenny Overton. It's set in sort of a mix of Shakespearian/Victorian England, and offers a version of how the song "12 Days of Christmas" came to be. (psst -- it's a love story.) It might be too advanced for some 8 year olds, but not for others.


I'm glad you and your son liked ZIGAZAK! and THE MAGIC DREIDELS. I used to enjoy reading them aloud in my school library.

I've got to go out to do some errands--but here are three chapter books and an illustrated book that I recommend:


1. Barbara Robinson's THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER. It's hilarious!

2. STAR MOTHER'S YOUNGEST CHILD, written by Louise Moeri and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. This is an offbeat tale. It's an illustrated book with a lot of text.

3. Beverly Cleary's RAMONA AND HER FATHER, which was a Newbery Honor Book in 1978. I used to read it to the students in my classroom every December. It isn't just about Christmas. It's about family and school, going through hard times when Mr. Quimby loses his job, Ramona worrying about the health of her father because he smokes, and ends with Beezus and Ramona being part of a Christmas pageant at their church.


THE YEAR OF THE DOG by Grace Lin. The story takes place over the course of a year. It begins and ends with Chinese New Year. It's a great book about family and school.

Jenny and Elaine, thank you! Between my library and inter-library loan, all of these ought to be easy to get ahold of.

Susan, THE POLAR EXPRESS is always at the top of my Christmas list. And I love SANTA CALLS by William Joyce, especially how it deals with the gimmies and siblings caring for each other. I'm with Jenny as far as THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT being a holiday laugh-out-louder too.

Finally Barbara Berger's THE DONKEY'S DREAM has the most beautiful depiction of a pregnant Mary I have ever seen in kidlit.


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