Holiday Book-A-Day: Christmas Day in the Morning

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Counting down to Christmas with a new holiday book each day!

christmas day in the morning Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck, illustrated by Mark Buehner

No holly jolly frills today; just a sweet story of lasting family love.  I bought this book for my husband and son twelve years ago, and the story still touches me today.

It’s December, and Rob overhears a conversation between his parents that makes him realize — for the first time in all his 15 years — that his father loves him.  Life on the farm is busy and no one has time for expressing sentimental thoughts, but now that Rob is aware of his father’s true feelings, he’s determined to show his love in return.  And what better place to acknowledge a Father’s love than in the stable?



You can read the text of Christmas Day in the Morning online, but you don’t want to miss the illustrations!  I mentioned Mark Buehner’s Snowmen at Christmas book in an earlier post, and while his trademark bright colors have been toned down for this story, his magical way with light still shines here.  The book includes a forward by Buehner explaining how Buck’s tender story, originally published in 1955, influenced his own family forty years later.

Wishing you all love and joy this season!


Holiday Book-A-Day: Little Santa

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Counting down to Christmas with a new holiday book each day!

little santa Little Santa by Jon Agee

You can always count on Jon Agee to see the world from a different perspective, and this Santa origin story is a perfect example of that!

In this version, Santa is the youngest member of the Claus family, and the only one who enjoys the cold snowy winters at the North Pole.  When the family decides to move to Florida, only Santa is sad.  But when their plans are foiled by a roof-high blizzard on the eve of moving day, Santa comes to the rescue by shimmying up the chimney and bringing back reinforcements to dig the family out.

Two-page spread from LITTLE SANTA.

Two-page spread from LITTLE SANTA.

You can probably guess who his little helpers are, and what happens afterwards!

Use this video to get your kids thinking about what Santa was like as a child before you share the book with them:

Enjoy this Horn Book interview with Jon Agee and this Kirkus interview with Jon Agee to learn more about how this book came to be.


Holiday Book-A-Day: Skippyjon Jones Snow What

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Counting down to Christmas with a new holiday book each day!

Skippyjon Jones Snow What Skippyjon Jones Snow What by Judy Schachner

I debated whether or not to include this one in the countdown, because it’s not technically a holiday book; it’s more of a re-imagined fairy tale with a winter setting.  But who can resist a Skippyjon Jones book?

In this adventure, little Kitten Britches is not interested in listening to any old girly fairy tale about Snow White.  He’d rather set out with his chihuahua friends on a search for Snow What, even if it means tangling with a dragon!



Things you don’t want to miss in this book:

  • Skippyjon’s “disagreeable face”
  • Skippyjon wearing his long-johns on his head
  • Skippyjon wearing his long-johns as Prince tights
  • Skippyjon with an ice cube stuck on his nose
  • the CD of Judy Schachner reading the story, included with the book

You also don’t want to miss these Skippyjon extras from Schachner’s website.

And you absolutely, positively don’t want to miss this video intro to the book:

And if you’re like me, you’re probably going to want to read all the other Skippyjon Jones books too!


Holiday Book-A-Day: Olivia Helps With Christmas

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Counting down to Christmas with a new holiday book each day!

olivia helps with christmas Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer

This was the first Olivia book I ever read, and I was thoroughly charmed by it!  Olivia is excited about Christmas and wants to help with the preparations but (as with most children) the skill and good judgement just isn’t there.  For instance, she tries so hard to untangle the tree lights, but the result is…


Two-page spread from OLIVIA HELPS WITH CHRISTMAS. (Click to enlarge.)

She also feeds her baby brother (LOVE that page!), sets the table, sings Christmas carols, puts out milk and cookies, and tries to go to sleep so Santa can come.  It’s the illustrations that really shine in this amusing book, so if you’re sharing it with a group make sure everyone has a good view.

Olivia has her own webpage complete with activities, information about all the Olivia books, and more information about the author/illustrator.  You can also join the Olivia Fan Club!

You may want to download the Olivia Event Kit, although it’s not related to this particular book.


Holiday Book-A-Day: Winter In White

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Counting down to Christmas with a new holiday book each day!

winter in white Winter in White (a Pop-Up book) by Robert Sabuda

popup angel

A caroling angel from WINTER IN WHITE.

Simple yet complex, this marvel of paper engineering from the king of pop-up books is a delight.  Each page features a representation of the winter season crafted from white paper, most adorned with shining foil accents.  Intricate snowflakes, a jaunty snowman, a laughing sledder, and more — including my favorite, an ice skater who actually performs a spinning pirouette as the book is opened to its full width!

If you use this book as a read-aloud, you know your audience will want to follow it up by creating their own popups.  Here’s a list of links to tutorials from Children’s Engineering Educators you can use to create pop-up greeting books, cards, and dreidels.

So what does Robert himself think of the term “paper engineer” as a job description for what he does?  Watch this video to find out, and then head over to Reading Rockets for the rest of their interview with this talented artist!  (The segment titled “Paper is King” is a good one to share with kids who get frustrated with their own creations!)


Holiday Book-A-Day: The Animals’ Santa

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Counting down to Christmas with a new holiday book each day!

animals santaThe Animals’ Santa by Jan Brett

The thing I like best about Jan Brett is the way she manages to tell two intertwined stories in one book.  In this latest offering we see Little Snow wondering (with more than a touch of skepticism) who the animals’ Santa is, while the other forest animals and his older brother — Big Snowshoe — assure him that while no one has seen him, they’ve all received presents from him.


Artwork (before the text was added) from THE ANIMALS’ SANTA.

Meanwhile, on the outer edges of each page, we see the elf lemmings preparing gifts from nature for all the animals.  But who is the stealthy Santa who will deliver them?

Don’t miss Brett’s “Newsnotes” with extra info about about the animals in this book.  You can also print out Animals’ Santa bookmarks and/or Christmas cards.

And finally, visit Jan Brett’s studio and meet her pet rabbit (the model for Little Snow) and learn how to draw a snowshoe rabbit.


Holiday Book-A-Day: An Otis Christmas

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Counting down to Christmas with a new holiday book each day!

otis christmas An Otis Christmas by Loren Long

Long offers something for machine-lovers and something for horse-lovers in this seasonal offering as Otis helps provide a miracle for the farmer and his pregnant mare.

An_Otis_Christmas illustration

The book begins with the usual holiday festivities on the farm.  “On Christmas Eve, the farmer came to the barn and fed the animals their traditional Christmas meal of bran mash with chopped apples and brown sugar. Otis delighted in watching them dig in around the trough. He knew how much they loved the special treat.”  The farmer has a gift for Otis, too; one he wears proudly.  Little does anyone realize how important that gift will become as problems develop when the horse goes into labor, and the farm truck sent to fetch the vet gets stuck in the snow.

Visit Loren Long’s An Otis Christmas page for a video introducing Otis.

And visit the Otis the Tractor site for an online preview of the book.