Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Books: Fourteen Books that Celebrate the Holiday Seasons


Fourteen books featuring children's, humor, and fiction titles that celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the holiday season.


The Christmas Chronicles
By Jeff Guinn

This collection includes all three of Jeff Guinn's Christmas Chronicles novels:

The Autobiography of Santa Claus
, a tale that combines historical fact with legend to tell the true story of Mr. Claus.

How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas
, a story in which the first lady of Christmas herself tells the story of how she and a very brave group of people once saved a treasured holiday from being lost forever.

The Great Santa Search, a tale that takes readers on a sleigh ride through the history of Christmas in America that lands smack-dab in 2006, as a reality TV show threatens to destroy the true spirit of Christmas.


The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story
By Lemony Snicket

A little latke is miraculously born the moment he hits the frying pan, screaming all the while. Jumping out out of the frying pan our little latke friend screams in vain while trying to explain his role in Hanukkah to flashing colored lights (So you're basically hash browns, they reply. Maybe you can be served alongside a Christmas ham) and an equally Christmas-centric candy cane and tree. Snicket has written a very entertaining book, a great gift for adults and Unfortunate Events fans.


Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo

This touching story by Newbery Medal-winning author Kate DiCamillo tells the story of Frances who discovers one day, just before Christmas, that there is an organ grinder and his monkey on the street corner outside her apartment. When things are quiet she can even hear their music. After seeing the man and his monkey sleeping out on the street very late one night Frances can't stop thinking about the two poor souls. Even as Frances prepares to deliver her lines in the Christmas play the young girl is still thinking of the man and his sad eyes. In a moment of silence while standing on stage Frances finds the perfect words to share. Parents have praised this book for its focus on those who have less, using it as a way of broaching a very difficult subject with their children.


The Night Before Christmas
By Clement Clarke Moore and Robert Sabuda

If you haven't had the chance to read and more importantly see a book illustrated by Robert Sabuda you are most certainly missing out. As enthralling for adults as they are children Sabuda's pop up books have Santa popping out of chimney, beds folding out and in what has been refered to as the pop de résistance, in which Santa's lead reindeer nearly fly right up your nose.

This is Sabuda's third Christmas themed pop-up, following The 12 Days of Christmas and The Christmas Alphabet all of which are well made, detailed and classical in their design.


Christmas Jars
By Jason F. Wright

On Christmas Eve, twenty-something Hope Jensen is quietly grieving the recent loss of her adoptive mother when her apartment is robbed. The one bright spot in the midst of Hope's despair is a small jar full of money someone has anonymously left on her doorstep. Eager to learn the source of this unexpected generosity, Hope uses her newswoman instincts to find other recipients of "Christmas jars," digging until her search leads her to the family who first began the tradition of saving a year's worth of spare change to give to someone in need at the holiday.




Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
By Eric Kimmel

It is Hanukkah again and and the poor villagers find that the holiday-hating, hill-dwelling hobgoblins are, as usual, bound and determined to ruin yet another year's celebration. Each and every year these terrible goblins blow out the menorah candles, break all of the dreidels, toss the delicious patato latkes onto the floor and work very hard to ruin anything else Hannukka related they can get their hands on. Of course all of this was before the ingenious Hershel of Ostropol arrived on the scene. This story, wonderfully illustrated is a retelling of an ancient Hanukkah story in which the Syrians forbade the Jews to worship as they wanted. There is of course a delightful twist and humor abound even when things look their worst that make this Caldecott Honor Book so very good.


Green Christmas: How to Have a Joyous, Eco-Friendly Holiday Season
By Jennifer Basye Sander, Peter Sander and Anne Basye

We included this book about having a evironmentally responsible book to offer a little variety to the list and so that can fell hip and the good news is that all you have to do is drop a few of these trips at your holiday gathering so that you can be hip too! The book instructs readers how to choose between a real tree and an artificial one; find alternatives to holiday cards; avoid the holiday catalog crunch; find or make gifts that are green or teach green; have warm, cozy green fires and create eco-responsible lighting displays all while helping the Earth and reducing your carbon footprint.



Holidays On Ice:
Featuring Six New Stories
By David Sedaris

This collection of holiday stories has always been a friend of mine. This new collection includes all six of the original Sedaris classics including "Dinah the Christmas Whore" and "The Santaland Diaries". The most exciting thing about this new release, however, is that Sedaris has included six new stories many of which will be familiar to longtime fans but are still a wonderful addition to what was already a holiday classic. A brand new, previously unpublished, story has been included as well. Sedaris writes about the kind of Christmas revelries that most of us can easily relate to. Hillarious enough to warrant my buying the book -- again.




Celebrate Kwanzaa
By Carolyn B. Otto

This new release celebrates the candles, community and ancestry that are all an important aspect of Kwanzaa celebrated from December 26th to January 1st. Swahili words are used in connection with the observance. "The name Kwanzaa means ‘first fruits' of the harvest." A kinara (kee-NAH-rah) is the candleholder of seven candles. Each day one candle is lit and one of the seven principles such as unity, self-determination, or cooperation, is talked about. The past is remembered and the future celebrated. The colors connected to the holiday are red, green, and black. Gifts are given especially on the last day and a feast is held. Directions show how to make an African rain stick and important foods and recipes are shared.

The Curious World of Christmas:
Celebrating All That is Weird, Wonderful and Festive
By Niall Edworthy

This was a book that I picked up the other day while browsing the tables at my local book store. It is very funny. Drawing from more than two thousand years of history and culture, this collection of anecdotes, customs, tips, and recipes features more than 1,000 entries honoring one of the world’s most celebrated holidays. This unpredictable, addictive gem weaves in famous quotations, traditional sayings, verses, and wisdom to create a book that will be enjoyed long after the Christmas tree is down and the turkey leftovers finished off. Each page yields tidbits on everything from the real reason why December 25th was chosen as the celebratory day and a 19th-century turkey recipe to the origins of kissing under mistletoe and statistics showing why Christmas is proven to be more stressful than divorce or burglary.



Olive, the Other Reindeer
By J. Otto Siebold and Vivian Walsh

This is the new tenth anniversary edition of a book that has sold more than a million copies making it a Christmas classic about a real underdog.

Olive is merrily preparing for Christmas when suddenly she realizes "Olive... the other Reindeer... I thought I was a dog. Hmmm, I must be a Reindeer!" So she quickly hops aboard the polar express and heads to the North Pole. And while Santa and the other reindeer are a bit surprised that a dog wants to join the their team, in the end Olive and her unusual reindeer skills are just what Santa and his veteran reindeer team need.




Light the Lights!
By Margaret Moorman

This is a great book for families that find themselves with both Christmas and Hanukkah traditions and backgrounds and makes a great gift for children who will be celebrating both. In one of a very few such picture books to feature both celebrations, the author focuses on a household's joyous celebrations of Hanukkah and Christmas, two festivals that frequently occur close together on the wintertime calendar. The book focuses on themes that both celebrations have: candles in a menorah glow brightly in Emma's house during the eight days of the Jewish holiday; later, lights shimmer beautifully from her family's Christmas tree. The family's celebrations are purely secular, and Emma's response to everything--be it getting presents or playing dreidel--is sheer delight.


The Stupidest Angel:
A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror 2.0

By Christopher Moore

I am a huge fan of Christopher Moore (which can be attested to in an interview I conducted with him a few years ago). The Stupidest Angel in its second edition includes a brand new chapter. From the synopsis of the book which is a good deal funnier than I could ever be:

'Twas the night (okay, more like the week) before Christmas, and all through the tiny community of Pine Cove, California, people are busy buying, wrapping, packing, and generally getting into the holiday spirit.

But not everybody is feeling the joy. Little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a holiday miracle. No, he's not on his deathbed; no, his dog hasn't run away from home. But Josh is sure that he saw Santa take a shovel to the head, and now the seven-year-old has only one prayer: Please, Santa, come back from the dead.

But hold on! There's an angel waiting in the wings. (Wings, get it?) It's none other than the Archangel Raziel come to Earth seeking a small child with a wish that needs granting. Unfortunately, our angel's not sporting the brightest halo in the bunch, and before you can say "Kris Kringle," he's botched his sacred mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove headlong into Christmas chaos, culminating in the most hilarious and horrifying holiday party the town has ever seen.


The Christmas Train
By David Baldacci

Here's something for adult readers who like a nice Christmas mystery. Disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon must get from Washington to L.A. in time for Christmas. Forced to take the train across the country because of a slight "misunderstanding" at airport security, he begins a journey of self-discovery and rude awakenings, mysterious goings-on and thrilling adventures, screwball escapades and holiday magic. Equal parts hilarious, poignant, suspenseful, and thrilling, David Baldacci's The Christmas Train is filled with memorable characters who have packed their bags with as much wisdom as mischiefand shows how we do get second chances to fulfill our deepest hopes and dreams, especially during this season of miracles.





Are there books with a holiday theme that have a special meaning to you or that you think ought to be included above? Hit reply and share your favorite holiday books. We'll edit this list and them to the list!


Here are some reader responses so far:

Loaded Question Reader Marg Suggests:

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

Marg writes: "I read A Redbird Christmas by Fanny Flagg and just loved it!"

The book takes place in the quiet little town of Lost River, Alabama. After a startling diagnosis from his doctor, Oswald T. Campbell leaves behind the cold and damp of the oncoming Chicago winter to spend what he believes will be his last Christmas in the warm and welcoming town of Lost River. There he meets the postman who delivers mail by boat, the store owner who nurses a broken heart, the ladies of the Mystic Order of the Royal Polka Dots Secret Society, who do clandestine good works. And he meets a little redbird named Jack, who is at the center of this tale of a magical Christmas when something so amazing happened that those who witnessed it have never forgotten.

Loaded Questions reader Meg suggests two classics:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

We're all quite familiar with the story of the Grinch, his dog Max, and the inhabitants of Who-ville. The Grinch, whose heart is two sizes too small, hates Who-ville's holiday celebrations, and plans to steal all the presents to prevent Christmas from coming. To his amazement, Christmas comes anyway, and the Grinch discovers the true meaning of the holiday. This book, over fifty years old, is still an important holiday story.


A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens

One of the best-loved and most quoted stories of "the man who invented Christmas"-English writer Charles Dickens-A Christmas Carol debuted in 1843 and has touched millions of hearts since. A Christmas Carol has been the source of countless movie adaptations and a play performed around the holidays every year.

Cruel miser Ebeneezer Scrooge has never met a shilling he doesn't like. . .and hardly a man he does. And he hates Christmas most of all. When Scrooge is visited by his old partner, Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come, he learns eternal lessons of charity, kindness, and goodwill.

Submit your favorite holiday book!

14 comments:

Marg said...

I don't read a lot of holiday themed book, but a few years ago I read A Redbird Christmas by Fanny Flagg and just loved it!

Kelly Hewitt said...

Thanks Marg, I added A Redbird Christmas to the list!

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