Christmas books brighten the season

Published: Sunday, Dec. 5 2010 1:00 p.m. MST

This year Teeka gets to help get the reindeer ready to fly on Christmas Eve. But the reindeer won't listen to her until she uses a gentle voice. Just in the nick of time she has them ready to set out with Santa. Detailed vignettes accompany Jan Brett's trademark illustrative style in this sweet Christmas story celebrating its 20th anniversary. — J.H.

"CHRISTMAS IS HERE," adapted from the King James Bible, illustrated by Lauren Castillo, Simon & Schuster $12.99 (ages 3-8)

Lauren Castillo cleverly combines past and present in this charming picture book about the Nativity. A modern-day family sees a cr?he in their neighborhood, and the boy peers into the manger. Suddenly the scene shifts to an ancient times with a star gleaming overhead. Parallel images of now and then bring strong meaning to two cold winter nights full of kindness and love.— M.S.

"NIGHT IN SANTA'S GREAT BIG BAG," by Kristin Kladstrup and Tim Jessell, Viking Juvenile, $16.99 (ages 4-8)

It's Christmas Eve and Louis' stuffed Lamb is excited. Louis is so excited he sneaks downstairs and peaks in Santa's bag. Lamb accidently falls in and meets all sorts of toys, but when Santa pulls him out, they're no longer at Louis' house. Never fear, though, Santa will make sure Lamb gets back home safely. Dreamlike illustrations accompany a sweet story of curiosity.— J.H.

"THE NUTCRACKER," by Alison Jay, Dial, $16.99 (ages 4-8)

Based on the Balanchine ballet, this version of "The Nutcracker" is full of whimsical illustrations with a vintage feel. The Nutcracker Prince's candy castle will have young mouths watering and imaginations soaring.— J.H.

"JOY TO THE WORLD: Tomie's Christmas Stories," by Tomie dePaola, Putnam Juvenile, $24.99 (ages 4-8)

Three Christmas stories — "The Night of Las Posadas," "The Story of the Three Wise Kings" and "The Legend of the Poinsettia" — are brought together in one beautiful volume. Tomie dePaola's illustrations are colorful and precise.— J.H.

"IMMI'S GIFT," by Karin Littlewood, Peachtree, $15.95 (ages 4-8)

Gift-giving is very much a part of Inni's life when, in her white arctic wilderness, she unexpectedly finds a little wooden bird in the water. Soon there are other gifts that make "her igloo the brightest thing in the land." When the season changes and it is time for her to leave, she drops one of her toys, a tiny wooden bear, in the water. Later, across the world, a boy finds the gift and hangs it around his neck where once he wore a little wooden bird. This is a perfect story for a holiday read-aloud and for all year around.— M.S.

"THE FORGOTTEN CAROLS: a Christmas Miracle for Isaac and Eliza," by Michael and Brandon Dorman McLean, Deseret Book, $21.99

"The Forgotten Carols" come to life for young children in this original story. Eliza and Isaac can't find the joy in the Christmas season. It's been a hard year, and Christmas isn't that special anymore. But when an unusual baby-sitter shows up, their outlook changes drastically. An accompanying CD features the music of each "forgotten carol" introduced in this book, as well as the narration read by Michael McLean.

e-mail: jharrison@desnews.com; marilousorensen@ymail.com

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