Happy Bloomin’ Holidays (as in, christmashanukkahkwanzaa) to You, and . . .
I Need Some Advice

h1 November 27th, 2007 by jules

So, I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays. On the one hand, I loathe and absolutely dread the materialism, the sugary-sweet Christmas ditties that play well before Thanksgiving arrives, and the ads. Oh the commercials! I think each year that I will become numb to them, but I don’t. Everyone likes to talk up the Grinch’s epiphany — “‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!’” (or, as it might appear in Latin, “Fortasse,” inquit “Laetitia diei festi ex ipsis muneribus non proficiscitur…Fortasse,” inquit Grinchus, “Laetitia diei festi non est res empticia, non est res quaestuosa!” Now, wasn’t that fun?) — but then we have things like this commercial from last year. Remember this?

I get (though it’s a stretch) that some people like her voice and all, but I don’t get why this family isn’t screaming, get the creepy Celine out of our living room floor! It’s 3 a.m., for *$#*!’s sake! This ad plays like a horror movie in my world.

But then, on the other hand, I love trimming the tree with my girls; hearing a really kickin’ Christmas song (that is not sung by the sinister, barely-clad, perfume-spraying, living-room-usurping Celine); baking cookies with my family; finding just the right, perfectly special gift (that is not Celine Dion’s new fragrance) for the people you love; and I have to see “It’s A Wonderful Life” every year. Must. I know, I know. There’s this gem and this gem. And many others. But I have to see the moon-lasso bit (“What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You-you want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey, that’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon…Well, then you could swallow it. And it’ll all dissolve, see. And the moon beams that shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair…Am I talking too much?”). And when Harry comes back to town and says, “to my big brother George: the richest man in town,” well . . . it gets me every time. Blast it! Now, when Zuzu chimes in with “Look, daddy! Teacher says, every time a bell rings, an Angel gets his wings,” it’s a bit much for me, but the richest-man-in-town bit I gotta have. Oh, and every year I have to just, ahem, excuse that “she’s an old maid, and she’s a librarian!” bit {dramatic score follows} when George is looking into the future at the poor, poor Mary. Ah well. No movie is perfect. (Mary, the poor spinster librarian, is pictured above).

See how I’m torn on the holidays?

I also love a challenge. That would be why this year — again (I made a half-hearted attempt last year) — I will be rounding up some new holiday titles. And here’s where I need your help:

* * * First, if you know of any good, new ones, leave me a comment or drop me an email. I have a stack, and I will begin reviewing soon, but perhaps there’s something I’ve missed.

* * * Second, since I like to be all-inclusive, send me any new Hanukkah titles if you have any. Kwanzaa, too. Those are the three big holidays this time of year (though the first week of December seems to be Hand Washing Awareness Week; December 1st is Eat A Red Apple Day; and December 13th is Ice Cream and Violins Day, whatever the hell that means . . . well, my apologies to those observances). Oh, and of course let’s not forget Winter Solstice and New Year’s, but I’ll cover snowy books (so fun!) and New Year’s as best I can. Anyway, I’ve probably got two whoppin’ Hanukkah titles (new, that is) lined up and one Kwanzaa, ’cause they’re slim pickins, folks. Or am I just looking in the wrong places?

Remember: I’m talking ’07 titles, please. However . . .

* * * Lastly, please tell me of any of your favorite holiday classics that might be leaving holes in my life. And I mean, they need to be good. As good as Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas Present (1993) by John Burningham (the. most. supreme. holiday. title. My apologies to those who don’t celebrate Christmas, but I mean, have you read this book?!) and Father Christmas (1973), the cognac-drinkin’ Santa (“happy bloomin’ Christmas to you . . .!”), by Raymond Briggs (I wrote a retrospective review of sorts of these titles here last year when, egads, all our images were so small. How could we stand it?).

(Now I’m having trouble getting “Father Christmas” by The Kinks out of my head. Anyone else?) . . .

Anyway and anyhow, anyone wanna help? If you recommend a new title for me (for review) or a holiday title that was insta-classic for you and is dear to your heart, I will do my best to get to it, though I can’t make any guarantees. Generally, I’ll take any help with my new challenge.

Oh, and happy bloomin’ holidays to you, too. And, in case you’ve never experienced the richest-man-in-town loveliness and want to see the look on Jimmy Stewart’s face at that moment (one of the best. movie. scenes. ever, which is at approximately -2:05 in this clip, the last 9 or so minutes of the movie), here ya go. Yeah, I’m hard-core about this movie:

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43 comments to “Happy Bloomin’ Holidays (as in, christmashanukkahkwanzaa) to You, and . . .
I Need Some Advice”

  1. My favorite Christmas book: Letters from Father Christmas, by J.R.R. Tolkein. I’m reading this to my daughter now for the first time, and I hope we can get in a Father Christmas letter of our own… Father Christmas’ helper, Polar Bear, reminds me a bit of our own tenant, Brad the Gorilla.

    For Channukah, I’m a fan of In the Month of Kislev, by Nina Jaffe.


  2. Of course, these are not new titles. Confound me and my willingness to answer questions without reading all the directions. This is my biggest challenge as a librarian (in semi-retirement)– rushing ahead without reading the directions closely.


  3. Oh Jules,

    You are a woman after my own heart! If I walk into a room at the point where Harry Bailey walks up and makes a toast to “my brother George, the richest man in town” then everybody sings Auld Lang Syne, I’m a sobbing mess in 1.1 seconds. I love it!!!! It is IMPOSSIBLE for more than 2 Beatys to talk for 5 minutes without a quote from this movie popping in.

    Other must have movies include Holiday Inn (but not White Christmas), A Christmas Story, Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! and of course The Snowman. Oh, how I adore that animated movie. It is perfection!

    As for books: Nobody beats HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS, but we do love HOW MURRAY SAVED CHRISTMAS an awful lot around our house!

    http://www.amazon.com/Murray-Saved-Christmas-Mike-Reiss/dp/0843176105

    Can’t wait to see what titles others suggest!

    Ho! Ho! Ho!

    Andrea Beaty
    http://www.andreabeaty.com
    http://www.ThreeSillyChicks.com

    PS. Squirrel Nut Zippers ROCK!!! That is by far my favorite x-mas album. Can you suggest others that might compare?


  4. Noelle of the Nutcracker!


  5. OK, these are not new, but:

    Snow, by Uri Shulevitz is one of my allllllltime most precious and beloved books.

    http://www.amazon.com/Snow-Sunburst-Books-Uri-Shulevitz/dp/0374468621/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1196235169&sr=8-1

    It is such a little poem.

    Also, the movie The Snowman.

    http://www.amazon.com/Raymond-Briggs-Snowman-David-Bowie/dp/B000HIVIOW/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_b

    My elder daughter, when she was wee, wanted to watch this over and over again and she WEPT everytime. (We think that’s a sign of something good at our house…)

    And then, for utter sacrelige and humor, do you know the song by Robert Earl Keene that starts out “Mom got drunk and Dad got drunk, at our Christmas Party…”??

    That’s the end of my wisdom for the night :)


  6. Lemony Snicket’s The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story. Wickedly funny and highly, highly highly subversive in the unique Snicket way.


  7. I didn’t think anyone under the age of 50 felt the way you do about Christmas, Jules. As the years have piled up (and I’m well over 50), I’ve gone from an elaborate, rival-Macy’s-decorated house and presents purchased starting in July, to a very much pared-down holiday. My husband and I don’t have children, but I’ve made it a point to include children’s books on Christmas Eve. Somehow my husband got through his childhood without reading a single children’s book, or having one read to him. This year I’ll be reading “Dulce Domum” from The Wind in the Willows again. It’s about finding home and learning what one’s expectations of home are. And then there’s that sweet scene with the field mice caroling–”Villagers all, this frosty tide, Let your doors swing open wide.”

    My favorite Christmas movie is, of all things, “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol,” which I saw when it first aired and which gently introduced me to Dicken’s story (which can be scary to a little kid). On my blog, Ellsworth and Winchester will be acting out this story in their childlike way.

    Your post is most welcome, Jules, to someone who has lost nearly everyone over the years and has trouble finding the heart of Christmas. You’ve reminded me what I sometimes forget–the real spirit of Christmas is in stories. Let our doors swing open wide.

    Candice
    http://ellsworthsjournal.blogspot.com


  8. Me too on the ambivalence about Christmas. I don’t really know new titles, alas, but I do love Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Oh, Candice, that chapter of The Wind in the Willows is amazing, and I agree with Andrea about The Snowman. Another good movie this time of year is the Jean Shepherd A Christmas Story, which cracks me up every time. Did anyone else grow up on Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree? We always read that at my parents’ house, though I now find it a somewhat disturbing celebration of trickle-down economics…

    Oh! And for sheer glorious creepiness, the Christmas dinner scene of Great Expectations: Joe ladling more gravy onto Pip’s plate, Pip worried that he’s going to be arrested, and Uncle Pumblechook praising the pig–it’s fabulous! (But, again, not new…)


  9. Snicket’s The Latke Who Wouldn’t Stop Screaming is a red-covered book, with green and gold accents. It shows a latke on a Christmas tree on the cover.

    Inside, it tells the story of Jews everywhere who are frustrated by the larger Christian world’s confusions about Chanukah (its origins, its importance, its meaning) and their mild feelings of being left out at this time of year, when the commercial Christmas comes roaring along and overpowers all airwaves and most people’s common sense in some sort of Super Bowl of spending. It is funny, and it will probably sell well due to the author’s name recognition, and will explain some of the Chanukah stuff to lots of folks who think it’s just 8 nights of presents. Some Jews are upset with it because Snicket skews some of the facts a bit (no surprise to Snicket readers), and has mentions of playing dreidel in caves long after the caves would’ve been around. Or something. But I give it 2 thumbs up, and will, in fact, gank this in a moment and make it a review.

    The new Kate DiCamillo book: Great Joy. Meh. I like that the little girl is concerned about someone who appears to be homeless, but I felt like the ending read more “Christmas miracle” than “MC solves the problem.” Still, it was okay. And the illustrations are pretty, but they piss me off. No minorities to be seen, not even on the streets of the city? Really?? But I’ll review it as well today.

    Hope that helps.


  10. Jules,
    Off the top of my head, the new holiday books that are getting buzz are: Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo, the Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett, Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer, The Latke who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket and A Family Christmas by Caroline Kennedy. These were probably on your list already. I’ll check our shelves at work tomorrow (I work at an independent toy and book store)… there are MANY more new titles out… some better than others, of course.
    -Susan


  11. I enjoyed Patricia McKissack’s new book The All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll. It is illustrated by Jerry PInkney.


  12. Jules, Harvey Slumfenberger is not only the Supreme Holiday Title, it’s also one of the Greatest Picture Books Ever. I’ve been babbling about it for years, but it’s been out of print since the mid-nineties. I think some smart publisher just reprinted it.


  13. Does anyone remember a t.v. special called “J.T.”? It’s about an African-American family living in the projects. All the little boy wants is a transister radio. He finds a cat and secretly feeds him, but the cat dies. His grandmother gets him a kitten in the end. This sounds sappy, but it was very well done and my six-year-old niece and I (age 16) bawled for DAYS over this story.


  14. Sorry, i don’t have any books to offer, but I did want to say solidarity, sistah on the whole Christmas thing. It seems like each year I get grumpier about it, and I’m not really sure why. There are things I love, like watching those old Rankin-Bass shows (especially love the song Clarice sings in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer–”There’s always tomorrow . . .”)

    If not for It’s a Wonderful Life and other classic weepers, December would be nothing but noise and traffic and stressed-out people. How’s that for some bah-humbug?

    And man, what’s with that creepy commercial you included? That’s going to give me nightmares. Memo to Celine: sweetie, eat a little something. No one wants to see your ribs poking over the top of your dress. “Eat, Papa, eat.” (Another Rankin-Bass reference, for fans like us.)


  15. I came. I saw. I posted. I added the Deluxe Edition of Olive, the Other Reindeer to my post, and then remembered another book I’ve been wanting to read: Under the Kissletoe, a collection of poems from Boyds Mills (Wordsong or Front Street, I’m guessing).


  16. Okay, I have to oh so modestly suggest my own “A Christmas Crocodile.” Every time someone buys one, an angel gets his wings… ;)


  17. Yay, Grinchus! Up here, every year, two university professors read it in English and Latin at the student bookstore at the local university. Quite the event!

    For Christmas, I love Santa Mouse; for Hanukkah, I prefer Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins.


  18. WORD on Christmas, and the scary way Celine is invading people’s homes. As we discussed on Black Friday, I find the holiday shopping thing so frightening that I can’t even go to the stores between Christmas and the first of the year. I work hard to get presents for the kids in my life, and I try to concentrate on the events where I get to see people and the rituals of sending cards and preparing food and decorating without getting sucked into the DO DO DO aspect of the holiday season. It’s a challenge.

    Of course, I wrote all that, and now I’m going to tell you that I’m not going to be any help. I like to look at the holiday books in January, once I’ve seen what’s getting buzz. That way, I don’t have to read the sub-par ones. I am tired of reading bad holiday books in the same way I am tired of reading bad alphabet books and bad bedtime books. Needless to say, your planned review roundup will be ever-so-helpful to my cause.

    Everyone knows this, of course, but Santa Claus: The World’s Number One Toy Expert by Marla Frazee is a modern day classic. I bought it for every kid I knew the year it came out.


  19. So….would admitting that I’ve never ever actually seen It’s A Wonderful Life get me ostracized? Then, um, I’ve seen it, and love it just as much as you do. Yeah. *nods*

    Is it weird that the holiday movies I have to see are While You Were Sleeping & Love Actually? Horribly New School?

    MY favorite Christmas book is Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror, which, while shelved in adult gets given to teens after warning them that 40-year-olds have sex in it. ;) I am Evil Librarian.


  20. Okay, I am one of those people who loves Christmas! My family has always been way into it and the older my brother and I have gotten, the more we love it. We are big into decorations and shopping and wrapping (I use only pages from magazines, so at least I don’t contribute to that eco-disaster) and on and on.

    And I’m not going to apologize for loving it! ha!

    On the book front, I found Ellen Wittlinger’s “Parrotfish” to be a surprising holiday story. Yes, it is about a transgender teen finding a new way in the world, but it starts with the post Thanksgiving hanging of the outside lights and involves a lot of discussion of Dad’s insistence that they replay the scenes from “A Christmas Carol” every year in front of an open window for the neighbors. This is a funny book about a typical American family in some rather unusual circumstances. In the end, there is a bit of a Christmas revolution. If you haven’t read it yet, you should check it out. (It’s YA.)

    As for movies – I love “White Christmas”. That moment when all the soldiers come back to show support for the retired general? I love that! (Plus Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney? Please – they are awesome!)

    I also love “The Bishop’s Wife” with Cary Grant (sigh….) and how come no one has mentioned “Miracle on 34th Street”? With Maureen O’Hara (best actress ever!!) and little Natalie Wood? Absolute perfection.

    If you like the Squirrel Nut Zippers try Swingerhead, a great FL swing band with an awesome Christmas CD and also the Christmas Cocktails collections of various artists from the 40s-50s. They are put out by Ultra Lounge – I have the first two which are awesome but it looks like they have a “best of” that is probably just as good.


  21. Oops – forgot to second Jackie’s love for “While You Were Sleeping”. It is most certainly a perfect holiday movie and I watch it again and again every year.


  22. I may be generalizing here but without kids I don’t know me my new Christmas and holiday books as well as I might. I’ve seen the DiCamillo (no diversity, but that seemed pretty true for a 1940s small town church) and the Lemony Latke, but not much else.

    In terms of classics, however, get thee to a copy of Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas by the Hobans. Get thee to a DVD of the Jim Henson version too. Sweet sweet Christmas traditions.


  23. Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas Present is THE BEST! I always tell people about it; I’m so excited to see it mentioned here. Also, I just looked and it appears than Candlewick (my very favorite publisher ever) has republished this. Smart! And, that almost makes it new for your list, yes?

    I just read about this new one (I’ve NOT read it), that is apparently available only thru FAO Schwartz.

    Finally, not a picture book but we really enjoy The Autobiography of Santa Claus as a nightly read aloud before the holiday.


  24. Gah. Editing possibilities would be so nice in comments! “it appears THAT” and here’s the promised link to the FAO Schwartz book: http://tinyurl.com/2aka3o


  25. Wow. You guys really deliver.

    A general, blanket thanks to everyone.

    Also:

    Alkelda, you rule-breaker you, I’m going to have to dig up my brother’s copy of Letters From Father Christmas. I have never read it. Thanks for the reminder.

    Andrea, I suppose we should never watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” together, as we’d both be crying too loudly. Also, words cannot possibly capture how much I love the animated version of Briggs’ Snowman. I love it on many levels, even a very personal one. I hear the first few piano notes of the soundtrack and start weeping. I’m a mess. Also, as for The Grinch, one book in my stack is the 50th anniversary retrospective of that book. Also, I’ve never seen the Reiss book you linked to, but I’ll look for it, and I did review his one from last year (also illustrated by Catrow) here (Merry Un-Christmas, just for the burnt-out on the holidays). Also (whew), as for holiday CD recommendations, I made for about five (I think??) years in a row a holiday mix of music for friends and family that wouldn’t make you want to gag, and it was entitled “Zuzu’s Petals” (with a different sub-title every year). Too bad I didn’t know you then (I’ve temporarily stopped doing it). I’ll try to remember to email you some suggestions later (CDs, that is).

    Liz, Shulevitz’s Snow will totally and completely hush a group of school children, as in they will stare in rapt amazement and wonder and listen to this perfect, perfect book. And, no, I’m sad to say I don’t think I’ve ever heard that Robert Earl Keene song.

    Monica and Kelly F. and et al, the Snicket book is on hold for me at the pubalic liberry. And Great Joy is in my stack. So is J. Patrick Lewis’ anthology of poems. Kelly, the new edition of Olive is also in my stack.

    Candice, thanks for the “Dolce Domum” reminder. Will have to re-read. It’s been a long time.

    Susan, thanks. Didn’t know about the Jan Brett book. I’m not a huge fan, but I’ll look for it. Falconer is in my stack.

    Becky, thanks. McKissack’s book is in my stack, too.

    Matt, word to Harvey being one of the top-ten best picture books ever.

    Candice, nope, never heard of that.

    Robin, HA!

    Bonny, HA! Clever. I’ll look for it.

    Kimberly and Little Willow, thanks.

    No, Adrienne, I didn’t know that. I will go find it. Love Frazee.

    Jackie, omigod. Thanks. Will look for that.

    Thanks, Colleen. And, no, of course you should not apologize. Will look for Parrotfish.

    Fuse, will look for the Hobans’ book. I’m such a poseur. Never read it.

    Kris, thanks. Must go see if Candlewick has re-published Harvey. If so, I will squeal.

    Oh, and I inadvertently skipped Libby. Thanks, Libby!

    Whew. You all rock. And rawk. I’ve made notes. Thanks.


  26. Yes. Again.

    I just came back from B&N and can recommend the new Toot & Puddle title, Let it Snow, by Holly Hobbie (with bonus! 4! cardboard! ornaments!). The ornaments? Meh. But the story is very cute to people like me and M (almost 13), who are die-hard T&P fans.

    While there, I saw a 2006 picture book which claims to be “It’s a Wonderful Life” for children. Maybe it’s good, but I found myself muttering “what fresh hell is this?” when I saw it.


  27. Kelly, I’m on hold for that title, too.

    Not the child-It’s-a-Wonderful-Life, mind you. I echo your ick.


  28. My childhood favorite was Tasha Tudor’s Becky’s Christmas, which I believe is sadly out of print. A close second was her Dolls’ Christmas – both are sweet and old-fashioned and have (for me at least) stood the test of time.


  29. Thanks, Jess. Will look up!


  30. Oh, Jules, I’m so glad I mentioned it, then! Frazee’s Santa is a coffee addict, which is one of the many reasons I like him so much.


  31. Adrienne, awe.some.

    I tried to get from the library the book that you recommended yesterday (Diane Goode’s book), and no one has it, blast it. (Or one of the GoodRead books you were reading. I use your recs there, too). Oh well. Maybe one day I’ll see it.


  32. There’s a local (Minneapolis) country/honkytonk band called Trailer Trash that has produced my favorite Christmas CD (available online) titled “Hell, It’s X-mas.” They do the best version of “Grinch” EVER; they include classics like Merle’s “If We Make It Through December,” and insta-classics like “Bleak Midwinter Polka.” I’m going to go listen to it right now………


  33. Ooh, ooh, hi Nancy! I want that CD based on the title alone. Thanks.


  34. Jules,

    I was out most of the day so I’m getting around to this a little late.

    Here are some 2007 Christmas books I have on hand in hopes of writing reviews of them during December.

    1. Do Rabbits Have Christmas? Written by Aileen Fisher & illustrated by Sarah Fox-Davies. Need I say it’s great to have a collection of the late Fisher’s poems in print? A wonderful book of poems to share with little ones.

    2. Christmas Magic written by Sue Stinton & illustrated by Eva Melhuish

    3. Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer

    4. Bear’s First Christmas written by Robert Kinerk & illustrated by Jim LaMarche. The story is told in verse. I love Lamarche’s illustrations in ther book.

    5. Toot & Puddle: Let It Snow by Holly Hobbie

    6. The Nutcracker Doll by Mary Newell DePalma. Mary wrote this book about her daughter’s experience with the Boston Ballet when she was eight years old. It’s more of a ballet than a Christmas story.

    Favorite Hanukkah Books I read aloud in my classroom and/or library:

    1. The Chanukkah Guest written by Eric Kimmel & illustrated by Giora Carmi. Funny story!

    2. The Magic Dreidels written by Eric A. Kimmel & illustrated by Katya Krenina. A retelling of the old tale The Tablecloth, the Donkey, and the Stick.

    3. Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins written by Eric A. Kimel & illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

    4. Zigazak!: A Magical Hanukkah Night written by Eric A. Kimmel & illustrated by Jon Goodell

    5. Moishe’s Miracle written by Laura Krauss Melmed & illustrated by David Slonim

    Favorite Christmas Books I read aloud in my classroom and/or library:

    1. Max’s Christmas by Rosemary Wells

    2. Morris’s Disappearing Bag by Rosemary Wells

    3. Santa’s Crash-Bang Christmas written by Steven Kroll & illustrated by Tomie dePaola

    4. Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry. Story in verse.

    5. Star Mother’s Youngest Child written by Louise Moeri & illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Unique tale with a lot of text for a picture book.

    6. Merry Christmas, Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

    7. Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel written by Shirley Climo & illustrated by Jane Manning

    Other recommended Christmas picture books:

    1. Santa’s Stuck written by Rhonda Gowler Greene & illustrated by Henry Cole. Really funny tale told in verse.

    2. Santa Claus the World’s Number One Toy Expert by Marla Frazee. I think this is one of my all time favorite holiday books.

    3. Santa’s Book of Names by David McPhail. Great book for a child who is struggling to learn how to read–and about the importance of literacy.

    4. Robert’s Snow by Grace Lin

    5. The Best Christmas Ever by Chih-Yuan Chen

    I have some others titles…but I’ll stop here.


  35. Thanks, Elaine. Wahoo!

    As for the new ones, I do not have the first two in my stack — but have the others. I will look for them! Thanks so much for taking the time to type this.


  36. For anyone still following this thread, by chance, here’s a great post from The Brookeshelf, who always delivers.


  37. One more note for whoever might be following the thread:

    It’s official! Candlewick has re-printed Harvey Slumfenburger! WAHOO. And YAHOO.

    Here’s what someone at Candlewick told me: “We DID do a new edition of Harvey Slumfenberger’s Christmas Present! It came out in October as a direct result of popular demand. Even years after it went OP, it kept getting mentions from booksellers, librarians, and readers as one of their fave Xmas stories ever.

    Here’s a link to more info: http://www.candlewick.com/cat.asp?browse=title&mode=book&isbn=0763635170&bkview=p&pix=y

    Excellent news.


  38. I also do not have new titles for you, but I have to jump up & down & second the Tolkien Letters from Father Christmas. I don’t know if all the versions are like this, but my copy has actual envelopes with letters that you can pull out and read. I love it. I also have a soft spot for Berkeley Breathed’s “A Wish for Wings that Work”…it’s an incredibly sweet story even if you’ve never heard of Bloom County. And with all this interest in penguins these days, it’s about time for this book’s resurgence! I think they even made a cartoon movie out of it at one point, but my memory is a bit fuzzy on that one. And as a kid, I loved any & all versions of the Anderson tales “The Little Matchgirl” and “The Fir Tree” even though they are incredibly sad…I always *did* like the melancholy stuff. :)


  39. I love watching ” It’s a Wonderful Life. I get a kick out of the angel’s response to “Where’s Mary…?” “You’re not going to like it George…that’s the funny part..she’s an old maid, she never married..” This fate worse than death! But the real qustion.. is there an inner Mary, (or Marion the Librarian)..in all librarians? Have we just changed on the outside?


  40. Every Christmas Eve my husband reads A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote aloud. I imagine cousin Harper Lee helping with the fruitcake. It’s beautiful!


  41. First of all, thank you for expressing your love for It’s a Wonderful Life, which I have completely shared since like the age of 12. Did you ever notice how Jimmy Stewart silently uses facial expression to tell George’s whole life story in the moment between meeting his brother at the train, and going over to talk to his brand new sister-in-law?

    Anyway, I can recommend a few Hanukkah books. How about:

    - Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Stephen Krensky, based on a true story about Washington meeting a Jewish soldier

    - Celebrate Hanukkah with Light, Latkes and Dreidels by Deborah Heiligman, simple nonfiction with gorgeous international photos

    - Hanukkah Moon by Deborah da Costa, story about Mexican Hanukkah customs

    - Letter on the Wind by Sarah Lamstein, a dreamy picture book about faith in God

    - Like a Maccabee by Barbara Bietz, a contemporary family story with a Hanukkah/soccer theme (chapter book)

    - Alexandra’s Scroll by Miriam Chaikin, a historical chapter book set during the time of the Maccabees

    - Judah Who Always Said NO by Harriet K. Feder – might be OP, but an excellent Maccabee story for very young kids

    - The Miracle of Hanukkah by Seymour Chwast, which uses nested flaps to show the action during the Maccabees’ battle for the temple

    There’s more over at this booklist we created last year for the Association of Jewish Libraries: http://www.jewishlibraries.org/ajlweb/resources/AJL%20STBA%20Hanukkah.pdf. There’s also a great article right now on children’s Hanukkah classics at jbooks.com. And a moment of shameless self-promotion: you can hear interviews with the authors & illustrators of Like a Maccabee and Letter on the Wind on the December ’07 episode of my podcast, The Book of Life, at http://www.bookoflifepodcast.com.


  42. [...] here’s another round-up in my Holiday Book Challenge 2008, quite possibly my last round-up, since a). I’m getting busy myself with holiday preparations [...]


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