Book Bites: Jingle Books

There's something about the holidays that makes us crave an armchair and a thick stack of books—novels for the evening, say, and raucous readalouds with sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren during the day. And of course, nothing beats a good, holiday-themed book this time of year. We've rounded up a list of a few recent favorites in that category below. Stop by and try a couple, if you'd like—we don't think you'll be disappointed. Happy holidays, friends.


Ages 3-5

The Animals' Santa by Jan Brett

Jan Brett uses her trademark vibrant color and keen sense of detail to illustrate what a Santa of the animals of the snowy north must look like. Big brother rabbit Big Snowshoe explains the delight of gifts arriving mysteriously on Christmas day to his younger brother, Little Snow. Little Snow, filled with doubt, is regaled with tales of previous years' gifts by his wood friends. The answer is ultimately very satisfying, with each page housing a side panel that adds nuance and magic to the story. This book will delight the eyes of both the young and the older reader. 
—Raquel

READ for a sweet story paired with stunning illustrations by a picture book legend.
PASS if you're not a fan of cute, little bunnies.
Order your copy on our website. 

Ages 4-8

Merry Christmas, Little Elliot by Mike Curato

Little Elliot wants Santa to give him the Christmas Spirit, but Santa tells him that Elliot has to find it on his own. Little Elliot and Mouse set off in search of the Christmas Spirit and eventually find it when they do something kind for someone else. A sweet, lovely way to remind us all how to find that spirit within us.
—Cathy

READ because Elliot is the polka-dotted elephant you didn't know your life was missing.
PASS if you want to catch up with the rest of the series first.
Order your copy on our website. 

Santa Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

Our beloved Bruce the Bear returns in another delightful story. When a young raccoon mistakes Bruce, clad in his red long underwear and a warm hat, as Santa, all the young animals crowd into the house for a chance to sit on Santa's lap. Of course Bruce's children (those hilarious geese) immediately jump in to participate and Bruce is forced into yet another role. There's plenty to love here, including Higgins's signature illustrations and many asides for parents to enjoy. A wonderful addition to the Christmas book collection!
—Cathy

READ because this is the latest hilarious installment in one of our very favorite picture book series.
PASS if you think Christmas should be passed in grim silence.
Order your copy on our website. 

Ages 8-12

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

The Vanderbeeker family—two parents, five kids, a dog, a cat, and a bunny—lives on the ground and first floors of a brownstone on 141st Street in Harlem, New York. They freely admit that their home is never calm, tidy, boring, or predictable, but they dearly love the only home and neighborhood they’ve ever known. Their Scrooge-like landlord, Mr. Beiderman, whom the kids avoid at all costs, lives on the top floor and has decided not to renew the Vanderbeekers’ lease. When the kids find out five days before Christmas, they immediately implement Operation Beiderman to change his mind with comic and disastrous results. Readers in 3rd grade and up will want to move into the Vanderbeekers’ neighborhood. Sure to become an instant classic!
—Jennifer

READ to discover a quirky, lovable family that will have you packing your bags for NYC.
PASS if heart's a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots.
Order your copy on our website. 

Adult Fiction

One Day in December by Josie Silver

Josie is on a crowded bus, heading home from a dead-end London job when she looks out the window and meets the eye of a man who she believes is "the one." She spends the next year searching high and low for him, only to finally meet him at a Christmas party when her best friend Sarah introduces him as Jack, Sarah's new boyfriend. We then follow Josie, Sarah, and Jack through the next 10 years and plenty of missed opportunities and misunderstandings. A charming cast of supporting characters makes this a wonderful read, especially around the holidays.
—Cathy

READ because this charming story is the Love Actually of books.
PASS if you're a heartless monster.
Order your copy on our website.
Read a Q&A with the author on our blog.

Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners by Gretchen Anthony

Violet Baumgartner is that friend we all love to hate. You know the one—she sends out the annual Christmas letter documenting her family’s triumphs, accomplishments, and “blessings.” Violet is the master of her universe, and most universes she inhabits, whether it be her family, her church, or her friend group. When we meet Violet, she is planning the retirement party for her husband, an accomplished scientist, whom she has somehow construed to be a savior to the medical community. In addition to celebrating her husband, she is also looking forward to seeing her daughter Cerise. Cerise is the child whom her mother has touted as the “perfect” child, alerting the newspaper every year for her spelling bee victories, her post-graduation accomplishments, etc. What ensues at the retirement party is a study of modern day issues, growing older, modern medicine at its finest and most controversial, and recognizing a new reality, especially when one’s whole persona is diametrically opposed to that reality. It’s a great holiday book to remind us to loosen up and appreciate our family, no matter what that means. 
—Lesley

READ this for the great blend of social satire and family drama, all underpinned by love and family.
PASS if you just can't handle any more family this time of year—even a fictional one.
Order your copy on our website.

Round About the Christmas Tree by Various Authors; edited by Becky Brown

This small anthology of classic Christmas short stories is beautifully presented in a pale blue binding. All of the short stories were written in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They shed light on Christmas traditions, everyday life, and writing styles of the period. Reading one or two stories each evening during the Christmas season could become a tradition itself! This is a charming addition to an adult’s Christmas literature collection. It would also make a lovely hostess or holiday gift!  
—Mari

READ these bite-sized gems under a cozy blanket with a cup of hot chocolate.
PASS if you're looking for something a bit longer to dig into this holiday season.
Order your copy on our website.