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Merry Stories Full of Cheer!

By on December 4, 2017

These heartwarming stories full of holiday wishes, experiences and preparations can help you add some lovely traditions in your own family setting. Merry holidays to you!

by Meribeth C. Shank 

Red and Lulu

by Matt Tavares

RedLulu_A cardinal couple, Red, the male bird, and Lulu, the female, live in an enormous evergreen tree beside a small house. The tree is cut down while Lulu is still in the nest in the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but cannot keep up.

He searches for days with no success, but finally discovers the tree, decorated for Christmas, in the midst of confusing city buildings. When he flies to their favorite branch, Lulu is there!!

After Christmas when the tree is removed, the two relocate to a nearby park. Every year the two birds return to what turns out to be the Rockefeller Center to enjoy the decorations and the singing around a new tree each Christmas.

The lovely watercolor and gouache paintings have qualities that make the reader think of photographs. Snow and holiday lights glisten and make the illustrations glow. A variety of perspectives lend movement to match the pace of the text.

Back matter includes information about the Christmas tree tradition, begun in 1931, along with the fact that each year the Christmas tree is recycled by Habitat for Humanity to build homes for families in need. This is an especially beautiful story for the holiday season. And a perfect accompaniment to David Rubel’s The Carpenter’s Gift, which is also a story about the traditions surrounding the Rockefeller Christmas tree.

Candlewick Press, $17.99
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2
(This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

A Christmas for Bear

by Bonnie Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
christmas-bear-coverIn another Bear and Mouse book from the Becker and Denton team, Bear invites his friend Mouse over for a Christmas party (although he knows almost nothing about it.) As a part of their growing friendship grumpy Bear prepares pickles, poetry and a present. But whenever Mouse mentions presents Bear only wants to talk about pickles and poetry.

Every time Bear leaves the living room for pickles, cheese, cookies and tea, “small and gray and bright-eyed Mouse” disappears. First, Mouse is under Bear’s bed. Next, Bear discovers Mouse in the hall closet. Finally, Mouse scampers “out from behind” the beautifully decorated Christmas tree when Bear bellows.

The watercolor, ink and gouache paintings are bright and warmly filled with holiday decorations. The expressions on the two characters faces and the body language and movement match the text as the exuberant Mouse becomes quieter as Bear appears to get crankier. The difference in size of the best friends is carefully demonstrated as Mouse discovers his present and uncovers his.

This just right read-aloud is a delightful Christmas Eve story time choice.

Candlewick Press, $16.99
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2
(This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Santa, Please Bring Me a Gnome

By An Swerts & Elin van Lindenhuizen

GnomeTess asks her Granny to write her letter to Santa. In it Tess says, “You don’t have to bring me any toys this year. The only thing I want is a real gnome.”

She asks Grandpa to make a small bed, table, chair, etc. for a gnome. Both grandparents are delightfully supportive and help Tess prepare. Readers share Tess’s thoughts as she imagines taking her gnome to school and dance class, sitting on the swing, doing crafts, eating together.

When Christmas morning arrives, Tess discovers the prepared dollhouse is empty with all the furniture gone!

Sunny watercolors illustrate Tess’s hopes and impossible wishes. The round faces of Tess and her family are a contrast to the homeless hamster who is across the room in glass box filled with sawdust. Beside it a letter from Santa explains that although “Gerard the Gnome was looking forward to coming,” he thought of Tess when Flannel the hamster needed a home.

Tess’s first response is the capstone of the story: “How kind of Gerard and Santa.” This sweet conclusion is a joyful ending to the story as well as the beginning of a real friendship. Sometimes the Christmas expectations can be met in unexpectedly charming ways.

Clavis, $17.95
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1
(This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers

Meribeth Shank works in the Media Center at Miami Country Day School, an independent school in Miami Shores, Florida, has taught classes on Writing Books for Children, and earned her MFA in Writing for children from Vermont College. You can also find her on the web:

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