Sunday, December 3, 2023

7 New Picture Books for Christmas 2023

Advent is here, and I am excited about new Christmas children's books! I have received 7 Christmasy review copies this year. 

Two are in board book format. 

Be My Reindeer
by Jeffrey Burton and Anna Hurley asks who will pull Santa's sleigh. Dinosaurs? Kittens? Robots? Each turn of the page reveals the face of a newly suggested character, and antlers glued onto the back cover appear to grow from each one's head. The silliness is perfect for the toddler age group, and I would have loved this for holiday story times at the library. We are sort of growing beyond the board book stage here, so I think Saint Nicholas is bringing everyone picture books this year, but we'll be sure to pass our copy along.

In the Holly Jolly North Pole by Joel Stern and Nancy Leschnikoff is a rhyming pop-up book designed in landscape format so that the book has to be turned sideways to be read. It's a pretty generic peek into life in Santa's workshop, but the fun pop-ups and cartoonish figures will appeal to little ones all the same.

The rest of these are picture books.

Merry Christmas, Strega Nona
is a reprint of a 1986 Tomie dePaola favorite. During Advent, Strega Nona has so much to do to get ready for her annual feast, but while she depends on Big Anthony to help her, he schemes with the neighbors to find a way to give back to Strega Nona. I love that this book mentions the Advent wreath and Mass. I plan to give this one to my eight-year-old from St. Nicholas.

In We Disagree About This Tree housemates Bear and Mouse are getting along mostly fine until they get a Christmas tree. By turns,  they each decorate the tree the way they believe it should look, each irritating the other until the tree finally falls down. This book has a grammar error, in which a singular hypothetical referee that Bear believes would help mediate their disagreement is referred to as "they." The rhyme is also a little bit awkward in parts. Still, it's a funny odd-couple style story that will make kids laugh. St. Nicholas isn't bringing this one to anyone, I'll probably just sneak it into the stack at some point. 

The Christmas Doll by Amy Sparkes and Katie Hickey is based on an episode of a British television show I've never seen or heard of, The Repair Shop. Evie and great-grandma Sue bring an old doll named Lizzy to the Repair Shop. Great-grandma tells the history of the doll from her own childhood, and then the "Teddy Bear Ladies" restore her so that Evie can have the doll. It's a really sweet story, and my 6-year-old who shares the doll's name will receive this one from St. Nicholas. 

Dasher Can't Wait for Christmas by Matt Tavares is a sequel to Dasher from a few years ago. On the eve of  Christmas Eve, Dasher wanders off, takes flight and has a little adventure with a human friend, and then has the opportunity to bring gifts to that child on Christmas Eve. The appeal of this book is the beautiful use of light in the illustrations. It creates a similar magical feel to The Polar Express. My oldest daughter received Dasher when it was first released, so this one is going to her.

Finally, How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen is a surprisingly sweet book from this duo. It explores all the various silly ways Santa might have of entering our homes on Christmas Eve. My 3-year-old daughter, who has been asking a lot of questions about how Santa gets into our house, will receive this one. 

Thank you to Candlewick Press and Simon & Schuster for the review copies!

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