Happy Sunday, kidlit friends! We went to our first Scholastic book fair last night. My daughter was so excited and looked forward to it all week, though she had a bit of a disappointment over the cash registers not working and being unable to bring the books home. I’m writing this on a Wednesday, and she will bring the books home from school today after I paid online. Attending the fair definitely made me think back to my childhood of going to the books fairs, and how excited I always was. I don’t always agree with the decisions Scholastic makes — like separating out diverse books for the fairs (which they have now discontinued) — but I am happy to support authors and schools by buying books, and I loved seeing the joy on all the children’s faces. The fair was packed with kids!
This week, I review children’s Christmas books and two new releases.
The holidays have arrived, and so has our new paperback level at TBR! If you (or a reader you know) are just over-carrying around bulky hardcovers or are looking for a more budget-friendly option, we’ve got you. Check out all the offerings at mybtro.com/gift, and give personalized reading recommendations customized for any and every reader.
Children’s Christmas Ornament by IslandBohoDesigns
This is such an adorable woodland-themed Christmas ornament. $30
The Bone Wars by Jane Kurtz, illustrated by Alexander Vidal
This picture book relates the dinosaur bone wars waged between two scientists in the 1800s: O.C. Marsh and Edward Cope. Initially, the two scientists were friends and went on fossil digs together, but when Marsh pointed out a mistake Cope had made in fitting dinosaur bones together, the two began competing against each other instead of working together. They would send spies to one another’s digs and even resorted to blowing up bones so the other couldn’t find them. This is an entertaining and fascinating glimpse into their rivalry.
Tagging Freedom by Rhonda Roumani
This middle grade novel is set in 2011. Kareem is a graffiti protest artist in Syria, but when the protests start getting dangerous, his parents send him to the U.S. to live with his cousin Sam in Massachusetts. Sam and Kareem were close when they were younger, but they have trouble connecting now, and when the popular girls at school dismiss Kareem, Sam distances herself from him even more. This is a fantastic middle grade novel about art, resistance, and friendship.
For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.
It’s the Christmas season, so I wanted to share my favorite new Christmas children’s books.
Merry And Hark: A Christmas Story by April Genevieve Tucholke, illustrated by Rebecca Santo
In this beautifully illustrated picture book, a saw-whet owl named Merry makes her home in a Norway Spruce named Hark. She loves hearing stories of adventure and travel from the great gray owl Sebastian. Merry has a frightening adventure of her own when Hark is cut down while Merry is still in it and the two leave their forest home and go to the city, where Hark becomes the city’s Christmas tree. Merry is frightened and hungry in the city, but then a human finds and rescues her. This is a magical picture book.
Lullaby for the King by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Michelle Carlos
This is another gorgeously illustrated Christmas picture book, this one depicting the Christian Christmas story of Jesus’s birth. It depicts a caravan of creatures making their way to Bethlehem to honor the baby. The animals bring gifts with them, like a stork cradling wildflowers, an antelope with myrrh, a raven with a ruby ring, and more. When they arrive, the baby Jesus gurgles at them. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are all portrayed as brown-skinned.
The Christmas Songbook by Amy Adele
This is my daughter’s personal favorite new Christmas book. It’s an adorable soundbook featuring a mouse family. Each page spread depicts a Christmas scene and the sheet music to a Christmas song. It opens with the mouse family on a street decorated for Christmas listening to carolers. The accompanying song is “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Children can press the button and hear the song. Other songs include “Joy to the World,” “Deck the Halls,” and more. It’s a blast!
Merry Christmas, Anna Hibiscus! by Atinuke, illustrated by Lauren Tobia
I adore the Anna Hibiscus chapter book series. In this one, Anna Hibiscus leaves her home in Nigeria to visit her grandmother in Canada. It’s a huge change for Anna. Of course the weather is very different, but she’s also nervous about Granny Canada’s dog because dogs are not pets in Nigeria. She loves playing in the snow and tries to make friends with the other nearby kids. At first, the kids shun her, but they eventually come around. This can be read as a stand alone, without having read the previous books in the series.
My daughter made my mom cry by writing this Christmas letter to her at school. I especially like the smiley face with heart eyes that gets its own exclamation point (or an “excited i” as my daughter calls it) in the middle.
If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is email@example.com.
All the best,