The holiday season is upon us, bringing comfort and joy and some great new picture books.
Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings of La Madonna del Gatto (The Madonna of the Cat), Maryann Macdonald’s “The Christmas Cat” tells the story of a crying baby Jesus and how all the animals in the stable try unsuccessfully to quiet him.
He is finally soothed by a purring kitten and everyone in the barn is able to fall asleep.
Jesus and his feline companion become fast friends, and the cat is again instrumental in calming him during the flight into Egypt.
Beautifully illustrated by Amy June Bates.
In “Dusk,” by Caldecott-award winning author Uri Shulevitz, a boy, his dog and his grandfather walk through the city as the sun sets. Colourful characters rush through the city streets as they grow darker until suddenly, all kinds of lights begin to come on — first the street lights, then lights in apartment building windows, and finally, the brilliant lights on Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa displays in gaily decorated storefronts.
Fans of Otis, the helpful and endearing tractor who “puff puffed” his way through three previous books, will enjoy “An Otis Christmas” by Loren Long.
Otis is excited about the arrival of a new foal on the farm, but when the mare falls ill during a blizzard on Christmas Eve, it is up to Otis to forge his way through the deep snow to bring Doc Baker to the barn.
A happy ending is, of course, the order of the day and the new foal arrives in good health, with a star on his forehead to boot.
Before Santa was a jolly old man with a white beard and a red suit, he was a helpful little boy in a red onesie with a hood who loved decorating pine trees, baking gingerbread cookies and, most of all, sliding down the chimney.
At least, that’s the story according to Jon Agee’s “Little Santa.” Little Santa loves living in the North Pole, unlike the rest of his family who just wants to pack up and move to Florida.
A humorous take on the origin of Santa Claus.
Not the traditional song, but incorporating all of its elements, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by Susan Jeffers tells the story of a young girl who peeks at her present under the tree and accidentally breaks it. Jeffers’ illustrations are lovely and full of interesting detail.
Susan Prior is the children’s librarian
for the Newfoundland and Labrador