Holiday Children’s Books: Part II

I’ve been reading some children’s books about the holidays recently and I already wrote one post about them, located here: Holiday Children’s Books: Part I. There is a assortment of books for this post as well, although they are sort of grouped into categories.

Hanukkah/Jewish Stories

The Jar of Fools: Eight Hanukkah Stories from Chelm by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein
These eight stories were very entertaining. Kimmel notes at the back of the book that some of these stories are retellings of traditional Yiddish tales, some are adaptations of stories from other traditions, and some are purely original 🙂 I think that the stories would be great for any children, especially older children who might see how the “fools” of Chelm are not very bright. I think my favorite story out of this collection was The Magic Spoon. In it, a stranger brings a magic spoon to Chelm and creates latkes from nothing–but the latkes would taste better with extra potatoes, onions, meal, and eggs. (So he tricks the “fools” into bringing all the ingredients…) Reading some of these Hanukkah stories have really made me want to make some latkes! I’ve never had them, let alone baked them. So it could be something fun to do during the holidays–they sound tasty!! (PS- I didn’t really care for the illustrations in this book.)

When Mindy Saved Hanukkah by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Barbara McClintock
I loved this story. Such a good moral/lesson, too: no matter how big or little you are, you can be a hero. Of course, these “little” people weren’t children, but actual little people, a la the Borrowers 🙂 But children will understand that they can do things that make a difference, and I think that’s important for children to know. Oh, an the illustrations in this book were AMAZING! A great addition to the story 🙂

Kwanzaa Stories

K is for Kwanzaa: A Kwanzaa Alphabet Book by Juwanda G. Ford, illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max
A very straightforwardly educational book. And there is nothing wrong with that. If a young child asked his or her parents what is Kwanzaa, I would say this is an excellent book to tell them what the holiday means and what traditions happen during Kwanzaa. It even has the seven principles at the very beginning, so you can tell the children what is at the root of Kwanzaa. Another book with great illustrations 😀

The Gifts of Kwanzaa by Synthia Saint James
Another straightforward book to introduce children to Kwanzaa. Reading the “About Kwanzaa” information in the front, I saw that there are seven symbols of Kwanzaa–I didn’t know that. I just knew about the seven principles. But this book does lay out which principle is celebrated on which day during the holiday, something none of the other books have done. But I don’t know if there is a set order for these principles and their corresponding days or if that’s a family/individual choice.

Santa’s Kwanzaa by Garen Eileen Thomas, illustrated by Guy Francis
I think this story is a wonderful way to sort of combine Christmas and Kwanzaa, as it’s perfectly reasonable for some families to celebrate both holidays. Basically, the story sets Santa Claus as a man of African descent–who say’s he can’t be anyway?! And as he returns home to the North Pole after working all of Christmas, a surprise Kwanzaa celebration awaits him. It’s written in a rhyme, much like the original ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. But I think this book is a great way to combine two holidays. And, again, the illustrations were beautiful 🙂

Various Santa Stories

How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by S.D. Schindler
I wish I had this book as a child. It tells us how Santa got his job: he was a chimney sweep, a postman, a cook at a diner, a zookeeper (who preferred the reindeer), and a guy who performed at the circus with his reindeer friends. Finally, elves hired him to deliver their toys for free to all the children. It’s such a great story, and everything obviously illustrates how each job prepared Santa Claus to do what he does now 😀 Another one with great illustrations.

Santa Duck by David Milgrim
I’m not sure about this one. It’s not a bad book, but I just thought it was sort of lacking in story. Perhaps it is meant for even younger children than the other children’s books I’m reading. And that’s why I feel it’s lacking? Not sure. Nicholas Duck dresses up as Santa and everyone mistakes him for Santa. So he passes this information on to the real Santa when he meets him and Santa asks him to help next year, too. It’s a fairly simple story…

Santa’s Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki, illustrated by Ivan Gantschev
Santa’s favorite story is the story of the birth of God’s son. It’s a pretty short story. But Santa “reminds” the readers that Christmas doesn’t really have anything to do with him–Jesus is the big deal. So it might be easiest to tell children the story of Jesus’ birth first, so they know all of it (since this just sort of mentioned it). But, again, the story of Jesus’ birth can be presented as a religious story or a fictional story, depending on your own religious standing. And while the cover below says “Santa Tells the Story of the First Christmas”, my cover is a bit different, so I didn’t know this was going to happen. It sort of took me by surprise, honestly. Beautiful watercolor illustrations!

I do have another children’s book about Santa, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L Frank Baum (author of the Wizard of Oz series). But it’s actually a hefty book, so I think it might be long enough to warrant it’s own review. If not, I’ll just tag it on to the end of this and delete this little message 🙂

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