Every year, Cracking the Cover compiles a list of books that make great additions to your holiday library. The following were published in 2018. All synopsizes are italicized and provided by respective publishers. Reviews are by Jessica. Scroll down for the complete list or click or tap the following links to directly visit a section. AGES 2 & UP • AGES 3 & UP • AGES 4 & UP • AGES 8 & UP
AGES 2 & UP
PIP AND POSY: THE CHRISTMAS TREE, by Nosy Crow and Axel Scheffler, Nosy Crow, Sept. 25, 2018, Hardcover, $12.99 (ages 2-5)
It’s Christmastime, and Pip and Posy are busy decorating the tree with gingerbread and a beautiful sugar star. But the decorations keep mysteriously disappearing from the tree until there are none left at all. . . . Oh, dear! What will happen when Posy finds Pip lying on the sofa, feeling sick? Is it possible Pip might know what’s happened to all of the ornaments?
While adults will understand what’s going on with Pip and Posy’s Christmas tree, younger readers won’t immediately. It’s a mystery they get to solve, and it has a hidden health message in there for good measure.
LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREE, by Jessica Courtney-Tickle, Big Picture Press, Oct. 16, 2018, Boardbook, $15.99 (ages 2-5)
One white and snowy night, a little Christmas tree stands alone in the forest. Everything is white and lifeless. As the night goes on, there are signs of life: an orange fox, a red-breasted robin, a cloud of fireflies. By the end of the book, the little Christmas tree is transformed by nature.
This is one of the prettier lift-the-flap books to cross my doorstep. I love that this is a Christmas book that celebrates nature rather than presents. It would make a lovely addition to any Christmas collection.
ALL ABOARD! THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN, by Nichole Mara and Andrew Kolb, Harry N. Abrams, Oct. 16, 2018, Boardbook $9.99 (ages 2-5)
Folding out car by car, this accordion-style book takes readers on a tour of Santa’s Christmas train. Each car has lots to see—elves making toys, penguins playing, reindeer preparing for the big day—as Santa searches for his missing boot. With a running landscape dotted with objects for children to find and count on the back of the book, All Aboard! The Christmas Train is an interactive ride from beginning to end.
This follow-up to Let’s Ride a Train is just as enjoyable as its predecessor. You’ll need room to spread out with this one, but you’ll be glad for it once you climb aboard the Christmas train.
DECKED OUT FOR CHRISTMAS! by Ethan Long, Harry N. Abrams, Oct. 16, 2018, Boardbook $9.99 (ages 2-4)
The mice at the North Pole are getting ready to deck the halls with all the essentials. They’ve got ornaments and twinkle lights, candy canes and popcorn garlands. One by one, the mice unpack all the merriest decorations, but soon the items become a bit unexpected. Hot cocoa? Fuzzy dice? A map? In a festive twist, it’s revealed that it’s not a tree the mice are decorating, but Santa’s sleigh, all decked out for Christmas Eve!
This sweet, but simple, book will appeal to the youngest of readers. It’s sparse text and bright illustrations are sure to bring giggles and smiles.
MY LITTLE GIFTS: A BOOK OF SHARING, by Jo Witek and Christine Roussey, Harry N. Abrams, Sept. 11, 2018, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 2-4)
There are many types of gifts. You can give a big, shiny, wrapped gift on Christmas morning, but you can also give the gifts of your help or your time. You can bake a cake for your parents or share what you learned in school with your little sister. You can help a friend unravel a knotty bracelet or smile at a stranger who looks sad. With a spirit of generosity, you’ll find you have many gifts to give to the world—and that giving can be even more fulfilling than receiving. Featuring a die-cut cover and interior flaps throughout, My Little Gifts celebrates the gift of giving.
While this is not specifically a Christmas book, it’s prefect for reading during the holiday season. My Little Gifts is the latest in the Growing Hearts series from Jo Witek and Christine Roussey. I recommend any and all of the books from the series. The writing is heartfelt and the illustrations charming.
I LOVE YOU THROUGH AND THROUGH AT CHRISTMAS, TOO! by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak and Caroline Jayne Church, Cartwheel Books, Sept. 25, 2018, Hardcover, $8.99 (ages 2-4)
We love our little ones through and through and especially at Christmas, too! Join our bestselling toddler and bear as we huggle and snuggle and wiggle and giggle during this loving holiday. “I love you with bells and wreaths, garlands and trees, with ribbons and bows, from your head to your toes!” Share some love with your little one with I Love You Through and Through at Christmas, Too!
A CHRISTMAS ADVENT STORY, by Ivy Snow and Hannah Tolson, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, Sept. 4, 2018, Hardcover, $14.99 (ages 2-5)
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Children are invited to count down to Christmas in a lift-flap advent calendar-style storybook that depicts a snowy community on Christmas Eve, where carolers sing, skaters spin on the ice, and a boy and girl bake cookies, decorate a tree and look out for reindeer.
AGES 3 & UP
COMING HOME, by Kerry Hyndman and Michael Morpurgo, Candlewick, Oct. 23, 2018, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 3-7)
A plucky robin, lost and alone, sets out on an epic journey, guided only by a call in his heart saying “come home!” He wills his wings to beat faster, lifting him over great mountains and dark forests, through blinding blizzards and rolling fog, across the wide, wild sea. Can he find his way back to his family in time for Christmas?
The text of Coming Home is more sophisticated than most picture books for young children. The poetic narrative may be difficult for those with short attention spans, but offers enough context that most will understand it. Beautiful illustrations bring prose to life in this gorgeous book.
I GOT THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT, by Connie Schofield-Morrison and Frank Morrison, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, Sept. 4, 2018, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 3-6)
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and a mother and daughter are enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday season. The little girl hears sleigh bells ringing and carolers singing. She smells chestnuts roasting–CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH!–and sees the flashing lights of the department store windows–BLING! BLING! BLING! She spreads the spirit of giving wherever she goes. And when she reaches Santa, she tells him her Christmas wish–for peace and love everywhere, all the days of the year.
THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS: THE DANCE OF THE REALMS, by Calliope Glass and Marco Bucci, Disney Press, Sept. 18, 2018, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 3-5)
With a foreword written by celebrated dancer Misty Copeland, this picture book brings The Nutcracker and the Four Realms to life in a brand-new way.
This version of The Nutcracker is not the one you grew up with. Elements are the same, but it’s almost an entirely different story. This book, as with two more listed below, have been released in conjunction with the Disney film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. I have not seen the film so I can’t compare the book to it. The illustrations here have an impressionist feel to them that add to the dreamlike quality of Clara’s dream. It will never hold up to the source material, but if you can put it aside, this book is nice.Return to Top
AGES 4 & UP
MRS. CLAUS TAKES THE REINS, by Sue Fliess and Mark Chambers, Two Lions, Sept. 18, 2018, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-7)
It’s Christmas Eve morning, and Santa Claus is still in bed! He’s feeling stuffy and sneezy and slow as a yeti. Will Christmas have to be canceled? Not this year! Because Mrs. Claus is ready to take the reins in Santa’s place. With a plan in mind, Mrs. Claus assembles the crew, maps out the route, and preps the sleigh. Then, with a snap of the reins, she shoots off into the night. Delivering gifts all over the world without Santa’s magic won’t be easy, but Mrs. Claus proves she has some holiday sparkle of her own…
Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins is a delightful romp around the globe. Sue Fliess’ rhythmic text rolls off the tongue, and her imagination makes you grin. Mark Chambers’ illustrations are bright and cheerful and bring giggles throughout. Not only do I love how this book brings Mrs. Claus to the foreground, but also that it shows a married couple sharing responsibility with them both stepping forward when needed.
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET: A STORYBOOK EDITION OF THE CHRISTMAS CLASSIC, by Valentine Davies Estate and Susanna Leonard Hill, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Oct. 2, 2018, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-9)
For a little girl named Susan, Christmas could be any other day. She doesn’t believe in Santa Claus or magic or miracles of any kind. Then one day she meets Kriss Kringle. As she doubtfully tells him the gifts she most wishes for, deep down Susan finds herself hoping that just maybe, he is the real thing. Based on the original holiday classic, Miracle on 34th Street is a heartwarming story about generosity, imagination, and the spirit of Christmas.
Who hasn’t seen the classic movie Miracle on 34th Street? This picture book version is almost a scene-for-scene carbon copy. The illustrations are beautiful, and this paired-down version still has charm. I think I’ll always prefer the move, but this book is a great introduction to little ones that may not want to watch the film.
THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS READ-ALONG STORYBOOK AND CD, by Disney Book Group, Disney Press, Sept. 18, 2018, Softcover, $6.99 (ages 4-7)
Follow along in this Read-Along Storybook and journey to a strange and magical world where a young girl named Clara meets a soldier named Phillip, a gang of mice, and regents who preside over the Realms. Complete with word-for-word narration, original character voices, sound effects, and stills from the film itself, there’s no better way to revisit The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Transport back into a world alive with song, dance, and the magic of storytelling!
Does anyone own a CD player anymore? If they do, they probably will enjoy the CD included with this book. Since I only have a CD player on my laptop, I’d have to save it to iTunes and let my daughter listen to it through another device. A digital download option would be nice. Otherwise, this book gives you a fine overall feel for the movie.Return to Top
AGES 8 & UP
THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS: THE SECRET OF THE REALMS: AN EXTENDED NOVELIZATION, by Disney Book Group, Disney Press, Sept. 18, 2018, Hardcover, $12.99 (ages 8 and up)
This novel not only retells the story from The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, but half of the book will expand and explore the world of the Walt Disney Studios film with brand-new, exclusive content. Complete with beautiful full-page chapter opener illustrations and never-before-seen details that add new depth to the story.