Christmas books brighten the season

Published: Saturday, Oct. 10 2015 9:09 a.m. MDT

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Sharing holiday books throughout the entire month of December sets a mood for decorations, traditions and celebrations. The following new books will help children and their families enjoy the holiday season.

"A CHRISTMAS CAROL: A Pop-Up Book," by Charles Dickens and Chuck Fischer, Little, Brown and Co.; Pop Har/Bk edition, $30 (Ages 9-12)

Charles Dickens' timeless tale of a rich miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his adventures with three ghosts on Christmas Eve is re-imagined in this exquisite pop-up book that parents and children will equally enjoy. Intricate pop-up scenes are accompanied by five removable, illustrated booklets. This rendition is as much a work of art as it is a classic book.— J.H.

"NONNA TELL ME A STORY: Lidia's Christmas Kitchen," by Lidia Bastianich and Laura Logan, Running Press Kids, $15.95 (ages 4-8)

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When the grandchildren beg for stories about Christmas from her childhood in Istria, Nonna tells about their poverty, but above all she tells of the traditions begun years before in Italy. Bastianich, a chef on television,includes more than a dozen selected recipes that will brighten any holiday table. — M.S.

"IT'S CHRISTMAS, DAVID!" by David Shannon, The Blue Sky Press, $16.99 (ages 4-8)

It's hard to be good when the house is filled with presents, cookies and holiday decorations. For David, it seems like the only word he hears is, "No." Santa is watching. Can David be patient or will he end up with a lump of coal? The ups and downs of the season through David's eyes will resonate with readers young and old. — J.H.

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"THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS," by Rachel Isadora, Putnam Juvenile, $16.99 (ages 4-8)

"The 12 Days of Christmas" take on an entirely new style when the classic Christmas carol is told from an African point of view. Colorful icons represent various gifts.

Collage illustrations made from kente cloth and cut paper create vibrant scenes that seem to jump off the pages.— J.H.

"LA NOCHE BUENA: A Christmas Story," by Antonio Sacre and Angela Dominguez, Abrams, $16.95 (ages 5 and up)

A child visits her Cuban relatives for the holidays in Miami, where palm trees and no snow seem strange. When the unique food is served, it too is foreign. But kindness wins out as the extended family becomes one.— M.S.

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"THE SPIDER'S GIFT: A Ukrainian Christmas Story," by Eric A. (RTL) Kimmel and Katya Krenina, Holiday House, $16.95 (ages 4-8)

This less-familiar story of gift-giving portrays an impoverished family that receives a miracle through their kindness to the spiders that have made their home in their Christmas tree.— M.S.

"CAN'T WAIT TILL CHRISTMAS," by Mike Huckabee and Jed Henry, Putnam Juvenile, $17.99 (ages 4-8)

Christmas is Mike's favorite season. He loves everything about it. Being good is pretty hard, but Mike really wants a football, so he keeps trying. There's a present under the tree that's just the right shape. Can Mike make it through the two weeks leading up to Christmas? Mike's story will help children to understand the importance of patience and telling the truth.— J.H.

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"THE CHRISTMAS GIANT," by Steve Light, Candlewick, $15.99 (ages 4-8)

Humphrey, the giant, and his elf cohort, Leetree, are in charge of wrapping papera. But one year Santa requests a special Christmas tree. The friends plant, weed and water all year, and just when the tree is ready, it disappears. Children in primary grades will find humor in how Humphrey and Leetree solve the case of the missing Christmas tree.— M.S.

"THE WILD CHRISTMAS REINDEER," by Jan Brett, Putnam Juvenile, $17.99 (ages 4-8)

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.

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"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.

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"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)

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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.

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

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