This First Christmas Night
Illustrated by William Low
Feiwel and Friends, 2016
From the dust jacket, “See this small gray donkey, this long dusty road. See this man, Joseph, this woman, Mary. Feel the frost on this clear Bethlehem night.
“Here is the Nativity story brought to life for family time or bedtime. Readers of all ages will embrace this luminous celebration of the miracle of Christmas.”
This is a beautifully quiet book, hitting the high points of the Christmas story – Mary & Joseph traveling to Bethlehem, finding the overcrowded inn, then the stable and the worship of the wise men, shepherds and animals. It’s a good book to read to help kittens wind down after a raucous day opening presents and playing. The lush paintings and few words will gently remind them of why we celebrate Christmas.
Rating 4 out of 5 paws – a beautiful edition to any home library.
The Parakeet Named Dreidel
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Pictures by Suzanne Raphael Berkson
Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2015
From the dust jacket, “Young David and his mother and father are celebrating Hanukkah one frosty winter evening in Brooklyn when they spot a parakeet sitting on the window ledge. They let it inside and are delighted to learn it speaks Yiddish. David wants to keep the bird, but his parents insist on trying to find its real home. Meanwhile, they start to call the bird Dreidel, and after searching without any luck for the parakeet’s owners, Dreidel settles in and becomes a part of their family. Years later, David meets the bird’s first owner by chance, and his family is stricken. Do they have to give away their dear pet?”
This is a very cute story of found love, faithfulness and reuniting with original love. The parakeet experienced a Hanukkah miracle by ending up on the window sill of a family who just happened to have just what he needed to survive on a snowy evening. I liked the pen and ink outlined, water-colored illustrations; they’re charming with simple details.
Rating 4 out of 5 paws – while the book doesn’t teach about Hanukkah, it nonetheless teaches that the lesson of the holiday – that miracles do happen, it’s good to be a part of making a miracle for someone – or somebird else!
Oskar and the Eight Blessings
Richard Simon and Tanya Simon
Illustrated by Mark Siegel
Roaring Brook Press, 2015
From the dust jacket, “It is both the seventh day of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve, 1938. Oskar, a refugee from the horrors of Nazi Europe, arrives by ship in New York City with only a photograph and an address for an aunt he’s never met. As he walks the length of Manhattan, he encounters the sights of the city at holiday time—and receives small acts of kindness from its people, each in its way welcoming him to the city and a life in the new world.
“Vividly capturing the atmosphere of New York, and referencing events that took place in the city in 1938, this timeless and heartwarming tale … celebrates the power of new beginnings and the uplifting spirit of the holiday season.”
While the story is important – as a means to begin a discussion of the Holocaust and man’s seemingly endless desire to destroy mankind – the illustrations are the real story. Honestly, the book could be with no words at all and the reader would still be moved. The deep, soulful expressions in not only Oskar’s eyes, but in all of the characters are powerful. Especially through Oskar’s eyes, so much emotion is communicated, the reader can feel the cold, the loneliness, the fear, and finally, the joy.
Rating 4 out of 5 paws – a beautiful book to be shared by Jew and non-Jew, whether during Hanukkah, or anytime you need to be reminded that in spite of the cruelty of man against man, there is the greater good of man blessing man and good will always triumph over evil.
Stowaway in a Sleigh
C. Roger Mader
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016
From the dust jacket, “The cat’s out of the bag and adventure awaits! When Slipper finds Mr. Furry Boots in her house, she does what any cat would do and investigates. But curiosity gets the best of her when she finds herself on a trip she hadn’t planned on taking…
“Join Slippers as she discovers that the best journey is the one home – especially for the holidays.”
This book is beautifully illustrated and sparingly narrated. The pictures really don’t need words – the author could have gone completely wordless and the story wouldn’t have been any less enjoyable. A lovely, calming story to read to kittens, especially on Christmas Eve, in anticipation of Mr. Furry Boots’ arrival with toys, even for cats!
If you love beautiful books, put this one on your Christmas wish list – we did!
Rating 5 out of 5 paws for a heartwarming story with illustrations both gorgeous and dreamy.
Here Comes Santa Cat
Pictures by Claudia Rueda
Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin, 2014
From the dust jacket, “Ho, ho…who? Cat! Not again. the holidays are around the corner, and Cat knows what he has to do. But being nice…it doesn’t come naturally. Still, Christmas is a time of year for miracles and with a little luck, even Cat may find the holiday spirit—and a festive surprise of his own.”
Cat is one of LoC’s favorite recurring characters. I reviewed “Here Comes Easter Cat” and “Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat” earlier this year (click on the titles for those reviews) and I even have one more, but that one doesn’t come out until next year. Love, love, love “Here Come … Cat” books! His expressions are priceless! In the illustrations below you’ll see what I mean. The book is written to be read aloud – at least that’s the way I read it – I like to read it to my fursiblings so they can laugh, too.
In this book, Cat dresses up as Santa so he can give himself a Christmas gift – he doesn’t quite understand the process of giving just yet. But he learns and gets a very special treat in the end! Maybe this would be a good book for some naughty kittens out there so they can learn to be nice!! No negatives on these pages. Just wonderful, fabulous, laugh-out-loud-funny Cat!!!!
Rating 5 out of 5 paws – and we wouldn’t have it any other way!!!!