The Twelve Days of Christmas (1986) by Jan Brett is complete with story within a story by the use of her signature frames at the sides of the pages. Each day of the song gets a double-spread image with its matching christmas ornament in a banner at the top. The side story is of a young man coming to his love’s house, going out together to cut down a Christmas tree, and bringing it back to her home to decorate. The lovely last page is where you can spot all the ornament’s from the song on the full decked-out tree.
The Christmas Day Kitten (1986), by James Herriot and wonderfully illustrated by Ruth Brown, is a Christmas Day miracle book to give you some misty eyes. A stray cat that often visits the home of Mrs. Pickering (and her three lazy bloodhounds) to get food goes missing for several weeks. She comes back, thin and dirty, on Christmas Day. It’s bittersweet because the stray cat dies, but what she leaves behind warms the heart of Mrs. Pickering and will enliven their home for many Christmases to come.
You can’t go wrong with the classic and lovely ”The Night Before Christmas” by Clemont C. Moore. But you can go wrong with the illustrations! There are, however, several nice interpretations. Here are my two.
The first one, illustrated by Douglas Gorsline (1975), has an old fashioned feel. Pretty colored pen and ink illustrations feature many cute details such as the antics of the house cat throughout the story — find her bristling as Santa comes down the chimney and later rubbing against his toy bag. Gorsline does a great job portraying Santa coming down the chimney – in a double-spread image of the fireplace he’s drawn a sequential series of Santas — first you see just boots, then the pants, then a bit of torso, then full Santa in the room.
My second The Night Before Christmas (1985) is a James Marshall. If you’re lucky enough to find this out-of-print, you’ll get to watch Santa in Marshall’s Texas cowboy boots and a house full of bulldogs, cats, rats and chickens!
Here’s another oldie. It’s Baby’s Christmas, (1959) a Golden Book by Esther Wilkin, and illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. Wilkin has a sweet way of painting chubby cheeked children (I’m a big fan of her Hansel and Gretel), and the baby is this book is no exception. The book features rhyming text about all the presents the little baby finds on Christmas morn – Santa really spoils the bejesus out of this little babe. Find all the chokeable parts on the gifts baby receives!