I add a book or two to our Christmas book basket every year. These days I have an eleven year old, a ten year old, a five year old, and a two year old. It’s safe to say we have the early years covered since we have been collecting Christmas books for a decade now. However, now I’m on always on the lookout for books that will have longevity in our book basket. Christmas from Heaven is a book I heard about last year after Christmas, so I resolved to add it this year. This is the well-known story of Gail Halvorson, a U.S. Army Air Corps pilot who earned the name “The Candy Bomber” after compassion and kindness drove him to drop candy bars from his plane one Christmas Day to the German children behind the blockade at Berlin’s Templehof Airstrip. This picture book contains both illustrations by Robert T. Barnett and actual photographs. You can view some of the lovely illustrations here. The photographs and other historical information add lots of interesting details but are not distracting. We thoroughly enjoyed this story, even down to the DLM who was fascinated by the little white parachutes used to deliver the candy bars. I know we’ll remember this story as we study the post World War II era. For more information about the Berlin Candy Bomber, go here. Highly Recommended. (Shadow Mountain, 2013)
Who hasn’t read or at least heard of The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden and illustrated by the inimitable Barbara Cooney? I added this to our Amazon shopping cart on a whim when I realized that my girls had never read it and the years when they’ll “allow” me to read a story like this to them are limited. (Full disclosure: my eldest opted out of this story when we read it on Christmas Eve. It made me sad, but I let her go. 🙁 ) It is a very long, very sweet picture book about an orphan girl named Ivy and a doll named Holly and how the two of them finally get together through an exciting turn of coincidental events. It’s about loneliness and wishing and wishes coming true. Highly Recommended, of course. (1957)
Nana surprised us with this book on Christmas day, and I LOVE it. B Is for Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet by Isabel Wilner is a rhyming Christmas alphabet book, which in itself is a very fun thing. However, it is Elisa Kleven’s illustrations that make this a stand-out title. Kleven’s art is very colorful and in what I’d call a folk art style, which really appeals to me. I love studying these illustrations. I’m so happy to add this one to our basket! (Ideal Children’s Books, 2015)
Last is a library bookstore find for me that I can’t keep from mentioning: Susan Branch’s Christmas Joy. I’ve always liked Susan Branch’s artwork, but Brenda’s reviews at Coffee, Tea, Books, and Me have caused me to take notice of her again. I purchased this little gem too late in the season to really get the good out of it, but I have a feeling I’ll explore it more thoroughly next year, especially when I begin to plan my Christmas baking. Chock-full of recipes and craft ideas and quotations and absolutely delightful artwork and typography, this book is just what it says: Christmas joy. Visit Susan Branch’s blog here for a little sampling. This is a definite used bookstore treasure! (Little, Brown, 1995)
Have you discovered some new or new-to-you Christmas titles this year? I’d love to hear about them!