On the Bookshelf December 2017

By Jane Muller

The Twelve Days of Christmas
Illustrator Emma Randall
Judging a book by its cover is the way to go with this version of the classic carol. There’s something Scandinavian about the gorgeous illustrations that go along with the lyrics of the Christmas tune. The charming yet contemporary pictures feature jolly characters that reflect the joy of the season. This is one of those books that will be part of a Christmas story tradition. Ages 3 to 7– Publisher, Penguin – $22.99

A Christmas for Bear
By Bonny Becker, illustrator
Bear has organized a Christmas party for his friend Mouse, who is eager to get to the gifts. Bear has a simple event in mind and the anticipation builds as he rolls out his version of a Christmas party that features pickles (preferably from France), some other edibles and the reading of a long and difficult poem. Each time Bear goes to fetch another treat from the kitchen, Mouse heads off to search for his present. This is a sweet and funny tale that offers a touch of holiday cheer and the joy of true friendship. Ages 5 to 9 – Publisher, Candlewick – $21.99

The Christmas Wind
By Stephanie Simpson McLellan, illustrator Brooke Kerrigan
There is a baby in a manger in a barn with cows and other farm animals that offer a subtle reminder of the Christmas story. The spirit of generosity and the gift of kindness are other familiar themes portrayed in the experience of a girl who is helping her sick mother and baby brother as they walk on a frigid, windy night. “Only those who are running from something would brave such a wind,” the story goes. They end up running into something that warms their bodies and their souls, thanks to a neighbour who was someone they thought should be avoided. Beautifully told, there is also beauty in the softly rendered illustrations. Ages 4 to 7 – Publisher, Red Deer Press – $19.95 hardcover

When the Moon Comes
By Paul Harbridge, illustrator Matt James
The opportunity to skate on an outdoor rink is a gift that is becoming more rare. The exquisite experience is perfectly depicted in this story about a group of kids whose adventure is to play hockey on a frozen lake by moonlight. The illustrations in this beautiful book create the mood of the moonlit night and the perfect ice for which the kids in town have been waiting. Adults will feel nostalgic and kids will want to find their own “beaver flood” in the woods and melt snow on a fire to make tea. Ages 4 to 8 – Publisher, Tundra Books – $21.99 hardcover

Merry Christmas Peanut!
By Terry Border, illustrator
It’s the amazing photos that form the core of this funny story that make it so exceptional. In terms of Christmas stories this one provides a new twist to the tradition of spending time together with family and friends. Peanut performs his role as the Merry Christmas Nut who cheers everyone up while rounding up a parade of new friends on the way to grandma’s house. Every page offers a playful vignette, like the traffic jam in which a jar of jam plays a part or the forest made of tree-shaped cookies and the ride in the gravy boat and ice-skating on popsicles. Ages 3 to 7 – Publisher, Penguin – $27.99 hardcover

I Am Canada: A Celebration
By Heather Patterson, illustrators Jon Klassen, Barbara Reid, Marie-Louise Gay, Danielle Daniel, Geneviève Côté, Ashley Spires, Qin Leng and Jeremy Tankard
Since this is still Canada’s 150th anniversary, this book would make a great gift this Christmas. A beautiful picture book, it features artwork by Canada’s finest illustrators in a celebration of our nation and its children from coast to coast to coast. The simple text of the free verse poem first published in 1996, conveys what makes Canada a country worth celebrating, from its wide-open spaces to the freedom that allows us to grow, dream and share. Ages 3 to 7 – Publisher North Wind Press – $19.99

Shelter
By Celine Claire, illustrator Qin Leng
Canadians know the comfort of being safely at home during a winter storm. This story begins with an impending winter storm that has the forest animal families sheltering in their homes. When a pair of strangers knocks on each of their doors, they are turned away. This fearful reaction sets up the heart-warming and timely message about the importance of kindness and generosity that evolves in this wonderful picture book. With simple and evocative language, it

explores how even small gestures can make a big difference to the strangers or outsiders in a community. Ages 3 to 7 – Publisher Kids Can Press – $18.99

Dog Night at the Story Zoo
By Dan Bar-el, illustrator Vicki Nerino
At the Story Zoo, you get to tell any story you want in front of the live audience, as long as it’s about you. That’s what these dogs do and the result is sometimes hilarious and at other times touching. Dog night introduces a bulldog who doesn’t want to be judged by his looks; a bloodhound who loses her power of scent and turns to a dog called Surelick Holmes for help; an energetic poodle who saves the day with her yapping; and a stray who takes fetching to a whole new level. Consider this for the reluctant reader on your list this Christmas. Ages 7 to 10 – Publisher, Tundra – $17.99 hardcover

Kiss Me in New York
By Catherine Rider
New York City at Christmas has been the setting of more than one romantic tale and this time, a chance meeting at the airport propels this story that goes from heartbreak to new-found love. The fun plot has Anthony and Charlotte both being dumped by their respective partners on Christmas Eve. Armed with a book from the airport bookstore titled “Ten Easy Steps for Getting Over Your Ex” they tour Anthony’s native New York. While getting over their exes, they get into each other. This is a good holiday season read that offers just enough surprises to deliver something unexpected. Ages 13 and up – Publisher, Working Partners – $17.99 hardcover