Skip to main content

Holiday

Rudy's Windy Christmas by Helen Baugh; ill. by Ben Mantle

Rudy's Windy Christmas by Helen Baugh; ill. by Ben Mantle

It's Christmas Eve, and before Santa goes out for his big night, Mrs. Claus serves up a nice helping of sprouts. Santa passes them directly to Rudolph, waiting outside the window, and the smelliest ride ever ensues. Rudy's Windy Christmas is quite possibly the funniest picture book I've read in quite a while. It is sure to delight any child or adult who enjoys gross-out humor. I love that the humor is good-natured, and the euphemisms for passing gas--the word "fart" is never used--are creative and hilarious. To boot, the rhyme scheme is very satisfying, so this makes an excellent read-aloud. This is a great addition to your holiday reading!

Number of Pages: 
32

Over the River and Through the Wood by Linda Ashman; ill. Kim Smith

Over the River and Through the Wood by Linda Ashman; ill. Kim Smith

Over the River and Through the Wood is a fabulous inclusive interpretation of the holiday song. An extended family, spread out across the country (or beyond?), has to travel by nearly every mode of transportation to get to their grandparents' house in time for a holiday feast. The text follows the song, so you can easily sing along or chant to engage young readers, and it could be used for any winter holiday--the illustrations do not designate a specific tradition. I love Smith's inclusive illustrations, too, which highlight families of different backgrounds in terms of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and presumably biological vs. adopted children. It is a cozy, sweet book, perfect for the holiday season!

Number of Pages: 
32

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh

Imagery of skeletons on the Day of the Dead have permeated popular culture in the United States, but their origins are rarely discussed. Award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh explores the life of the man who popularized the iconic calaveras, José Guadalupe Posada, as well as the sentiments behind the holiday. Tonatiuh includes steps in various printing processes, sure to hook young artists, as well as questions that engage readers in critiquing art work. He deftly blends his signature artistic style, which draws upon classic Aztec figures, with reproductions of the varied work from Posada’s career in art and journalism. Best suited for children ages 7-10, Funny Bones is sure to start many discussions, from political satire to printmaking to the notion of celebration in death.

Number of Pages: 
40

Rest You Merry by Charlotte MacLeod

Rest You Merry by Charlotte MacLeod

Another Brentwood librarian recommended this book and it was a quick and delightful read.  Published in 1978, there were quaint references to dialing a telephone and arriving at the local airport within 20 minutes of a departing flight.  The story was timeless, however, set in a small college town with faculty loyalties, betrayals and the jollity of the Christmas season.  It has some romance and the spice of illicit activities, too.

When several local citizens turn up dead, the holiday merriment flees as Professor Peter Shandy finds no rest, only bodies.  He is not a suspect even though the first murder victim turns up in his home, an apparent accident from a decorating impulse gone awry.  Shandy notes the obviously staged scene of the crime does not stand up to the accident verdict.  As he begins to investigate, he is joined by a newcomer to the area (an intrepid librarian) and romance sparks between them. 

The author's deft touch offers a large dash of wry humor, some real science, and a realistic take on human frailty, greed and optimism.  The characters are fun, especially Shandy.  He is every faculty curmudgeon, bah, humbug, but with great humanity.  Plus, he is redeemed by a charming librarian; what is not to like about this?

Number of Pages: 
182

Carla Kelly's Christmas Collection: Four Stories filled with Romance and Christmas Cheer

Carla Kelly's Christmas Collection: Four Stories filled with Romance and Christmas Cheer

Fans of this author will enjoy these selected romance novellas, which have all appeared in other Christmas-themed anthologies.  Carla Kelly notoriously writes historical novels without great attention to the workings of the upper class (this is most often true for her Regency-period romances) but she is also famous for the heart-tugging themes that detail the lives of the common people.  Small wonder she does not pay much heed to the rules of the aristocracy when they have sufficient food and shelter and the downtrodden in her tales are in great need.

These stories, see below, exhibit the best of the joy of the season so read them as the gift they represent - a few very happy endings in a world still in need of good news.

"The Christmas Ornament"

"An Object of Charity"

"Make a Joyful Noise"

"The Three Kings"

Number of Pages: 
278

A Christmas Bride and Christmas Beau by Mary Balogh

A Christmas Bride and Christmas Beau by Mary Balogh

Mary Balogh is a well-known author with dozens of romance novels to her credit; these two re-issues are Christmas-themed and deliver stories in which the plot and setting are reliant on the spirit of the season.  The Christmas Bride revisits some familiar characters and tells a story of the mixing of the aristocracy of Regency England with the wealthy merchant class.  Edgar and Helena are an unlikely pair but their way has been paved by Edgar's sister Cora in a previous story, where she meets and marries an English lord, bringing lots of money and a decidely unconventional view of the nobility.  Helena would not, under normal circumstances consider the very wealthy commoner as a suitable spouse, but events conspire against her and marry they must.  Their attempts to reconcile very different expectations for marriage are only part of the problem and the happily ever after comes after a number of obstacles are resolved.

In the second tale, love and forgiveness are postponed over several years and a marriage to another.  The Christmas Beau is a heartless seducer who wants revenge for his broken heart and uses the widow Easton's children to set her up for ruin.  Unexpectedly he begins to fall in love once again and cannot quite finish the goal of breaking her heart as the warmth of the season brings the couple to understanding and forgiveness.  Their future is also assured to be a happy one, with the gift of a new baby to look forward to in the coming year.

You do not have to wait for the holidays to enjoy discovering these "new" titles. Both of these novels were first published in the 1990s and are reissued together.  They are not as compelling as some of the later romances of Mary Balogh but do not disappoint, either. 

Number of Pages: 
499

Zen Ghosts by Jon Muth

Zen Ghosts by Jon Muth

This is the most recent of the Zen series, and we find the children and Stillwater celebrating Halloween.  Stillwater takes the children to see a storyteller after they are finished trick-or-treating, where they meet a mysterious panda who tells his audience a ghost story from the Buddhist tradition.  This makes a great Halloween addition to the Zen series without being overly spooky for young audiences.  As with the other two books, Zen Ghosts does a great job at introducing Buddhist philosophy to children, tempering whimsy with gentle guidance.

Number of Pages: 
40