Tag Archives: Christmas

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Are you already getting into Christmas or year end activities? In previous years I have recommended books to celebrate Hannukah, Kwanzaa and others. Here are some good titles to share in the classroom (or use as gifts) during December.

An Aboriginal Carol by David Bouchard.

With Christmas just around the corner, this aboriginal Christmas tale is perfect to share in the classroom. According to traditional beliefs the ‘peace maker’ was born before contact with white Europeans and brings together First Nations, Inuit and Dene groups. Told in poetry in both English and Inuktitut, this is the winter tale of a joyful birth. The incredible art of Moses Beaver illustrates text by David Bouchard while Susan Aglukark provided translation to Inuktitut and music on an accompanying CD. ISBN 978-0-88995-406-9, Fitzhenry & Whiteside

One of my favorite Christmas stories ever, is the book Baseball Bats For Christmas by Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak. The award-winning Inuit author paints the perfect picture of life in the high Arctic when he was little. Arvaarluk and his friends lived in in Repulse Bay, a tiny community on the Arctic Circle.  One day a small plane buzzed in and landed on the ice. But what did it deliver? Never having seen trees before, the children try to guess what the six green spindly things are. One of the boys has a brilliant idea: why not use them as baseball bats?  Full of vibrant illustrations, this story gives young readers a glimpse into a time, place, and culture that may be new to them.  A great way also to introduce discussions about Christmas traditions that others may not be familiar with. ISBN 978-1554519286, Annick Press

Island Santa by Sheryl McFarlane, with art by Sheena Lott, is a wonderful story that works on many different levels. Sophie and Sam live on an island, which is great for spotting orcas or seeing seals but not when you are sick. Just before Christmas, Sophie needs to go to the hospital in the city by Water Taxi. Santa arrives each year by boat. But this year Sophie is in the hospital. All Sam wants, is to be with her and his dad. The skipper of Santa’s ship offers Sam a ride and will get him dropped off at the city’s hospital, if he helps along the way. Sam helps sort gifts and make balloon animals. A gale hits when they visit another island. But eventually they safely reach the lighthouse where Santa delivers gifts. And, finally, Sam reaches the hospital where he shares gifts and stories with his family – the perfect way to spend Christmas. This book is not only a heartwarming story, it supports Jeneece Place – a house for island families to stay while their children are in hospital.  ISBN 978-0-9880536-0-1, Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island

A Wayne in a Manger by Gervase Phinn is a small, hilarious book for educators. It’s a heartwarming collection of anecdotes focusing on the nativity scene and Christmas pageants in schools that any teacher will recognize and enjoy. From shepherds clad in housecoats to a nose picking Joseph, from angels falling off stage and many other mishaps, the stories reflect a caring educator who loves nothing better than to observe and stimulate children. This little book will bring you joy and laughter and makes a perfect Christmas gift for other educators. ISBN 978-0141-026-886, Penguin

In this edition of my book review column, I celebrate sharing the 500th book with you! Happy celebrating, no matter which feast of the season you feature.

www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Toward the end of the year we all look for books to share, read and give. Some of these titles are brand new, others are older. Some deal with holidays, others with winter. Happy reading!

Ramadan, The Holy Month of Fasting by Ausma Zahanat Khan is a beautifully illustrated photo essay, a nonfiction picture book chockfull of information on the what, why, how and where of Ramadan. The book covers global traditions and includes personal stories, even recipes. ISBN 978-1-4598-1181-2, Orca Book Publishers

In the same Origins series as above, Christmas From Solstice to Santa by Nikki Tate and Dani Tate-Stratton is a joyful celebration of Christmas traditions around the world. This, too, includes personal stories and recipes as well as a glossary and additional resources. ISBN 978-1-4598-1355-7, Orca Book Publishers

Based on a real street in Toronto, Canada where many immigrant families settled, Birds on Wishbone Street by Suzanne Del Rizzo is a beautiful story  of people coming from different cultures. They share their food and their stories. But newly arrived Sami is not talking much. Until a bird needs his special attention and brings back memories and stories from home. Illustrated in clay and mixed media, the glorious art is a joy to explore. The book works on many different levels and even offers instructions on how to make your own winter bird treats. ISBN 978-1-77278-219-6, Pajama Press

Tiny Reindeer by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros is the wonderful tale of a reindeer so tiny that he is of no use to Santa or the other reindeer. He just gets into trouble. Until he learns of one little girl’s wish for the perfect tiny reindeer. Sneaking away in Santa’s sleigh Tiny Reindeer embarks on a big adventure and finds a loving home. ISBN 978-0-7352-7118-0, Tundra Books

The Christmas Pig is J.K. Rowling’s newest book. Reminiscent of classics like The Phantom Toll Booth and The Polar Express, this thick novel can be read aloud to all ages but, like Harry Potter, has its dark sides. Black & white art by Jim Field illustrates each chapter. Piggy is  Jack’s favourite stuffed animal because he has always whispered all of his secrets to it. But when his new stepsister, teenager Holly, tosses Jack’s trusted pig out of the car window, Jack falls asleep full of anger and tears. The adventures that follow feature toys and objects coming to life, whisking Jack away to the Land of Lost Things. Told in typical J.K. Rowling style, everything that happens seems quite plausible – objects, and feelings too, are sorted into ‘much loved’ or ‘barely missed’ things. If no human cared about them at all, these Things eventually will be eaten by the terrible, scary, voracious Loser. But if there is a glimmer of hope, they might rise again to live on earth among their beloved humans. Jack’s adventures, as well as the writing style, are brilliant. Towards the middle the story turns dark and quite scary in places but it has the feel of old fairytales that taught morals.               ISBN 978-1-338-79023-8, Scholastic. To read a more in-depth review of this book, click here: https://www.margrietruurs.com/jk-rowlings-new-book-the-christmas-pig/

Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author of over 40 books for children. She shares her love of books and travel here: www.globetrottingbooklovers.com

Global book reviews

In today’s column I would like to share with you books of wintery tales and seasonal information. These books can all spark discussions about seasons and traditions as well as lead to classroom crafts and activities.

Snow Days by Deborah Kerbel is illustrated in collage by Miki Sato. This is a wonderful picture book to share with young children about the magic of snow. If they have never seen snow, they will want to after hearing about snow angels and snow men. The attractive art is featured on thick, shiny pages (‘toddler tough’ the publisher calls them) making this a good book for kids to explore and try to make their own paper snowflakes.

Pajama Press, ISBN 978-1-77278-135-9


What if you came from a warm country and had never experienced snow? Two Drops of Brown in a Cloud of White by Saumiya Balasubramaniam, illustrated by Eva Campbell tells the story of a young girl’s very first walk in snow with her mom. This picture book casts a new light on snow clouds, on snow falling and covering everything, making sidewalks slippery and trees pretty. What is better, snow or sun?

Groundwood Books, ISBN 978-1-77306-258-7

Raven, Rabbit, Deer by Sue Farrell Holler is a brand new release. This picture book is a walk in the snowy woods of a boy and his grandfather. Together they make tracks and grandfather teaches the boy which animals make which tracks as well as the Ojibwemowin names of the animals.

Panama Press, ISBN 978-1-77278-136-6


I Found Hope in a Cherry Tree by Jean E. Pendziwol, illustrated by Nathalie Dion is a lovely story of winter – when shadows disappear but snowflakes dance and the wind tells stories. It is a poetic picture book to share with young readers and discuss miracles of nature, like how do cherry trees know that their buds will blossom when spring returns.

Groundwood Books, ISBN 978-1-77306-2204


The Three Brothers by Marie-Louise Gay is the story of Finn, Leo and little Ooley. They like to tell stories about exploring and about wild animals. But a real adventure is even better so they set off, on a very snowy day, to explore the woods. They don’t spot many animals and worry about climate change. But they do end up building their own snow animals – even better than building a snow man!

Groundwood Books, ISBN 978-1-77306-377-5


One of my favourite Christmas stories ever is Linda Bailey’s When Santa Was A Baby. Have you ever wondered what Santa was like when he was little? ‘He had a little nose, like a cherry!’ And his voice? Not a baby’s soft gurgle but, even in his cradle, he made booming ‘Ho, ho, ho!’ noises.

This book is fabulously funny and a great one to share with kids of all ages. It can even inspire students to write their own hilarious childhood stories of other fictional characters.

Tundra Books, ISBN 978-1770495562

And finally I want to bring this great resource to your attention: Christmas, From Solstice to Santa by Nikki Tate and Dani Tate-Stratton is an 80 page nonfiction book explaining history and traditions of Christmas around the world. From Egyptian Solstice information to traditions from Guyana, the book has lots of personal stories of food, decorations, beliefs and customs. A great resource for any (international) school library.

Orca Book Publishers, ISBN 978-1-4598-1355-7

Margriet Ruurs is the Canadian author of over 40 books for children, including Stepping Stones, A Refugee Family’s Journey. She conducts (ZOOM) author presentations in schools around the world.