Wednesday, December 05, 2007

#9 Favorite Christmas Picture Book: Little Critters and Hungry Bears

The number 9 spot on the list is a three-way tie. Well, really a two-way tie with a third book thrown in for the heck of it.

Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad was my first introduction to Mercer Mayer's Little Critters. My sister showed it to me. When I read it, I laughed so hard I cried! It's still my favorite of all the Little Critter books, and that's saying something because they're all very funny and clever. Children love them because of the cute little critter. Parents love them because they are so TRUE!

Promo info: Little Critter approaches Christmas with the intention of being a good helper. When he makes a mistake, he has a logical explanation. He couldn't wrap the Christmas package because the tape got too sticky. He couldn't buy his parents a present because there were too many toys to look at. He couldn't put up the tree lights because they were just too tangled. Little Critter means well, but every funny illustration shows him as tangled up as the Christmas lights. Trying to be good for Christmas without bungling everything up is difficult.

Mayer has a second Christmas book called Merry Christmas, Little Critter! I like it too, but not quite as much as the first one.

Promo info: Little Critter and his little sister are busy getting ready for Christmas. They have both written their letters to Santa and mailed them all the way to the North Pole. The family has decorated their Christmas tree, picked out gifts for each other, visited with grandparents and joined the neighbors for a carol sing. This story introduces Christmas traditions that many of its young readers will not have experienced. This is a delightful tool for grandparents to share Christmas memories with their grandchildren. The simple drawings and the rich colors will captivate young readers. Fold-out flaps extend the illustrations on each double-page spread.

Another Christmas book that I really like is Merry Christmas, Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood.

Promo info: Husband and wife team Don and Audrey Wood follow up on their international bestseller The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear with a yuletide message about giving.

The little Mouse has holed up in his cozy home for Christmas, under long, shiny garlands and a gigantic, glowing tree. And what a huge pile of gifts he's got! ("My goodness! What a lot of presents. Are they all for you?") But then he starts to worry about "the big, hungry Bear in the cold, dark cave at the top of the hill" and how he'd do anything to get a hold of Mouse's presents. ("Ohhh, how that Bear loves Christmas presents!") So it's out with the padlock, boards over the door, and tacks all over the floor. Good old Mouse, though, has a last- minute change of heart and realizes that maybe he should be sharing his presents--not locking them up--so he heads off to visit his ursine friend.

The Woods are in my top 10 picture book writer/illustrators ever. Between the two of them, I think they have something like 50+ books. Some of my absolute favorites are:

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear

A little mouse picks a red ripe strawberry, but can he keep it from the Big Hungry Bear? The little mouse tries every way he can to hide his delicious treat, but in the end . . .

This is probably the most well-known of their books. It's sold a gazillion copies and I think it's won an award (if it hasn't, it should have), but I can't remember which one and I can't find it on the internet.

The Napping House

A cumulative tale about a cozy bed, a snoring granny, a dreaming child, a dozing dog, and a snoozing cat. One by one the characters snuggle up in a pile until a tiny unwelcome guest appears on the scene.

My kids loved this one. The images of the granny sleeping away are so funny. This book won a variety of awards, including the ALA Notable Children's Book Award and Booklist Editor's Choice.

Heckedy Peg (one of my all-time favorite picture books ever)

Seven children named Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday encounter a witch who intrudes on their peaceful cottage. Their mother returns home and, through her courage and wit, solves a riddle to rescue her children. Inspired by a sixteenth century game played by children in Europe and handed down in various forms to children today, Heckedy Peg often strikes a familiar chord with readers.

This book just speaks to me on so many levels. Even though it's harsh in places, I think ultimately it comforts children with the message that a mother will go to any lengths to protect and save her children. This one also won Booklist Editor's Choice, ABA's Pick of the Lists, and more.

King Bidgood's in the Bathtub

A stubborn king refuses to leave his bathtub. After all, why should he? He can dance, sing, fish, play, and even eat in his wonderful tub. The queen, the duke, the knight, and the entire court try to coax the unruly king out with no success. Why King Bidgood finally leaves his tub is the surprise ending to this tale.

King Bidgood was not one of my personal favorites, even if it did win a Caldecott Honor Award, Booklist Editor's Choice, ALA Notable Children's Book and gobs more awards. But my kids loved it and one of them would check it out from the library nearly every. single. week. I think I've probably read this book over 200 times.


This is the Don & Audrey Wood picture book that I love the most. I just got a board book copy of it this week.

Ten little piggies dance on a young child's fingers and toes before finally going to sleep. It would be difficult for a young child not to love this book. The illustrations of a small child's hand look exactly like one, pink and plump with special lines. The text and illustrations go perfectly together. With only three or four well-chosen words per page, they manage to keep the story alive and moving. The authors explain various situations the little piggies (fingers) find themselves in. For example, the piggies may be clean or they may be dirty. They may be hot or they may be cold.

Yet another award winner, Piggies received the ALA Notable Children's Book Award, Golden Kite Award, Caldecott Honor Book and more. (Are you noticing a pattern here? Are you convinced that Don and Audrey Wood are King and Queen of the picture book world?)

Hmmm, I just realized this post is turning into a book itself. I'm supposed to be talking about Christmas books, aren't I? I guess I got carried away. Oh well, consider this your Christmas bonus.

You're welcome.

Now playing on my iPod: Where Are You Christmas by Faith Hill

1 comment:

Sandra said...

I had never read "The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, andt the Big Hungry Bear" until one day Brandi saw it at your house and looked at it and then had me read it to her. I loved it and it quickly became one of her favorite. I had to read it to her everyday before we left.