Little Tree (e.e. cummings & Chris Raschka)

Happy Holidays Week, Day 7: Merry Christmas, everyone! Our book today was Little Tree, based on a poem by e.e. cummings with story and illustrations by Chris Raschka, a lovely Christmas tale of a little tree and all the joy it brings to the world.

A little tree sits in a little forest, waiting for the day it will become something more. Then one day, a little truck comes and drives the little tree to the little big city, where a little family lives. The tree waits on the sidewalk for them to come and choose it, so they can bring it home and decorate it will all their baubles and bits for Christmas.

This was a lovely little book based on a poem by one of my favorite poets. The cubist-inspired illustrations are fun and colorful, and the pleasant story is a good length and full of Christmas cheer (though you may be a little sick of the word “little” by the end of it). JJ enjoyed it, so this one is Baby Bookworm approved!

And Then Comes Christmas (Tom Brenner)

Happy Holidays Week, Day 6: Hello, friends! And Merry Christmas Eve! Our book today is And Then Comes Christmas, written by Tom Brenner and illustrated by Jana Christy, a simple and sweet story of Christmas traditions.

First, the air gets cold and bare branches brush the sky as snowy wind races through them. After that follows Christmas lights, decorating the tree, presents and Santa and all the little things that make Christmas so incredible and special. And at the end of the big day, families draw near to be together and share their love, the greatest Christmas tradition of all.

This was a cute Christmas book that covered at lot of the fun things that happen this time of year. The text was occasionally a little awkward to read aloud, but the tone and message were wonderful, especially in the third act. Plus, the illustrations are beautiful and bring the magic of the season to life. The length was fine and JJ mostly enjoyed it, so all in all this one is Baby Bookworm approved.

Here Comes Santa Cat (Deborah Underwood)

Happy Holidays Week, Day 5: Hello, everybody! Our book today is the adorable Here Comes Santa Cat, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Claudia Rueda, a interactive story about an enterprising cat who is on a mission to make the “nice” list.

Why is Cat dressed up like Santa? So he can give himself a present of course! But doesn’t Cat know that Santa will give him his present? Oh, I see: Cat has tended to fall on the side of “naughty” more than “nice” this year. What can he do to try to redeem himself so that Santa will bring him a gift? 

This is a really cute and funny book, told in a fun conversational style (the text addresses Cat directly, and his response is showed through the following illustration. It makes for a very entertaining read for adults and kids! The illustrations are wonderfully on point, expressive and rich with charm. And the story is a classic Christmas theme reimagined: generosity to others is always its own reward. The length was very reasonable, and JJ loved it. This one was tons of fun, and definitely Baby Bookworm approved!

Simon And The Bear (Eric A. Kimmel)

Happy Holidays Week, Day 4: Hello, friends! Today’s book is Simon And The Bear, written by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Matthew Trueman, a Hanukkah story about faith and hope.

Simon is just a boy, but he must leave home. He is immigrating to America to find work and send for his mother and siblings. Simon’s mother tearfully bids him farewell, but not before packing plenty of Hanukkah supplies so he can celebrate properly on his journey: a menorah, candles, latkes, even a dreidel. But as his ship heads toward his new home, it strikes an iceberg and begins to sink! Simon bravely offers his place on the lifeboat to a father, jumping on the iceberg to try to survive. Here, he makes friends with a polar bear who shares his latkes and listens to his Hanukkah tales. His fate seems sealed as the days pass, but Simon has his faith, and is praying for one more Hanukkah miracle.

So, I’m a bit conflicted on this book. Positives: gorgeously enchanting art, a lovely message about having hope in bleak times, a lovely cultural tale; all these elements were lovely. However, the second act of this story is DARK. Simon, a child character, is forced to contemplate his own mortality no less than three times during the course of the story, at one point even speaking the words, “This is where I will die.” That is some heavy stuff for a children’s book, even if there is a happy ending. But still, a beautiful book. This is definitely one of those books you will want to read through first to decide if it’s appropriate for your baby bookworm (the length, which was pushing it even for a book lover like JJ, could also be problematic for the very young). Still, this is a beautiful book at Hanukkah, visually and in tone, and JJ enjoyed it overall. So in the end, it’s still Baby Bookworm approved!

Wombat Divine (Mem Fox)

Happy Holidays Week, Day 3: Hello, everybody! Today’s book is Wombat Divine, written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Kerry Argent, a very sweet tale of a wombat, a nativity play, and a dream.

Of all the holidays, Wombat loves Christmas most of all! He especially loves the Nativity play, and wants more than anything to be part of it this year. But when he goes to audition, he just doesn’t seem to be right for any of the parts, no matter how hard he tries, nor the encouragement of his friends. Can Wombat find the part that will be right for him?

Choosing this book based on the cover and title alone (and, really, how could I resist?), I was so pleasantly surprised by what a cool Christmas story this was! Wombat’s perseverance in the face of disappointment, the earnest support and kindness of his friends, and the adorable resolution are all great. Plus, in the spirit of exploring the way other cultures celebrate their holidays, this is a decidedly Aussie holiday book: every character is an indigenous Australian animal, and it features a bright and sunny summer Christmas. The length is just fine for baby bookworms, the illustrations are charming, and JJ had a great time reading it. Baby Bookworm approved!