Monday, December 8, 2014

Three Simple Picture Books for Preschoolers at Christmas

My last post featured 26 wonderful books to share at Christmas. Within days of completing the post I discovered three more new books that are worth mentioning.  You can read my previous post HERE.

The additional books are for younger children and fit into two of the previous categories that I described. The first is clearly in the 'Books that relate closely to the biblical story of Jesus' Birth' while the other two are stories based on 'Christmas Traditions'.

1. 'The Christmas Rose' by Wendy Blaxland & illustrated by Lucy Hennessy (Walker Books)

This is a beautiful story that tells of the birth of Jesus from the perspective of the fictional daughter of a shepherd, who like the Wise men described in the Bible, witnessed a bright star that announced the coming of the Son of God. Her uncle persuades her to give up her precious orphan lamb for him to take as an offering. Madelon follows her uncle, his men, and the magnificent kings riding on camels. All have gifts for the Saviour, but what will she offer if she sees him? She stands at a distance in tears. Her hot tears strike the ground and a plant springs up. There in the snow a flowering white rose presents itself as a special gift. Mother Mary seems pleased as it is offered and says "a gift of love is best of all'.

This is a delightful use of the story of the black hellebore flower - which blooms in the midst of winter - to help frame the traditional Christmas story for young readers. The crayon drawings are exquisite, with a softness that complements the story well. This fresh telling is a great addition to the many books to be shared at Christmas.  The book is suitable for readers aged 3-6 years.

2. 'This Little Piggy Went Singing' by Margaret Wild & illustrated by Deborah Niland (Allen & Unwin)

This book is only loosely related to the theme of Christmas. It's meant to be a bit of fun that picks up on the trappings of Christmas - gifts, decorating, food and fun. As you'd expect from this pairing of legendary writer Margaret Wild and the illustrative skill and flair of Deborah Niland, it is a gorgeous book. Using the rhyme 'This Little Piggy' as the framework, they produce a fun book that children aged 1-4 years will love having read to them over and over again.

This little piggy went singing
This little piggy stayed home
This little piggy had noodles
This little piggy had none
And this little piggy went
Toot, toot, toot
all the way home

But of course this isn't where it ends, as the piggies go shopping, posting, dining, partying, riding, skating, dancing, visiting and star gazing... all the way home.

3. 'Hey Baby, It's Christmas' by Corinne Fenton (Walker Books)
Like the previous book, this book is also only tied loosely to the theme of Christmas. It uses the sense of expectancy and excitement to present the coming of Christmas. Using a series of very cute photographs of baby animals, and beautifully chosen words to describe them, it builds excitement across every bright and gorgeous page.

Hey baby.
Hold your breath,
hang on tight,
count the sleeps,
Christmas is coming.
In a twitch of a whisker,
a steal of a kiss,
it's coming soon.
Tiptoe through days,
whisper your wishes
or sing out loud....

And so on. Fish whisper, penguins yell out, ducks cuddle close, puppies dream and so on.

Children aged 1-4 years will love hearing this book, predicting the words and thumbing through the pages to experience the emotions and excitement of Christmas as it nears. Corinne Fenton has presented a special and very cute book for preschool readers.

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