The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold

The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold, written by Maureen Fergus and illustrated Cale Atkinson, is a delightful addition to Christmas picture book collections. This book, which will be released on October 11th, sort of flips the script on the whole belief-in-Santa issue.

In this story, Santa has doubts about the existence of a boy named Harold. Santa is distraught that Harold’s letter was probably written by his parents (who likely want all those gifts for themselves), and he’s sure that a little boy couldn’t possibly lift the big container of milk left out for Santa. On top of that, Harold just didn’t look the same when he sat on Santa’s lap last year. It all adds up, but what Santa really needs is proof one way or the other.

As for Harold, he has his own doubts about Santa. He hatches a plan to catch Santa in the act of delivering presents. What Harold doesn’t know is that Santa has his own plan to see if Harold is real. What happens next is both hilarious and heart-warming, and it will restore both Harold’s and Santa’s Christmas spirit once more.

The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold is a great book for Christmas storytimes, no matter the age of the reader. Young readers who believe in Santa will appreciate seeing Santa’s side of things. Older readers will enjoy the humor present throughout the book, and this charming story may just inspire them to once again experience that childlike belief in Santa and the magic of Christmas.

Aside from the story itself, I think it’s also awesome to see depictions of biracial families in children’s fiction. It’s not a big deal in this book–and it shouldn’t be–but the mere presence of this family in the story makes it a necessary addition to many school and public library collections.

When Santa Was a Baby

If you’re looking for a new book to share with children this Christmas, look no further than When Santa Was a Baby, written by Linda Bailey and illustrated by Genevieve Godbout. This charming book will be released on October 13th, and it is sure to find its place with our most beloved holiday stories.

When little Santa was born, his loving parents thought he was the most adorable thing they’d ever seen. Sure, his voice was a little more booming than they expected, but he was still simply precious.

As Santa grew, his parents noticed that he had an odd fondness for the color red, he loved cold weather, he gave all of his birthday presents to others, he was obsessed with chimneys, and he trained his hamsters to pull a miniature sled.

Santa’s parents weren’t entirely sure what to make of their unusual son, but they were certain he would grow up to do something wonderful. Perhaps he would be a firefighter or a scientist!

Well, as it turns out, Santa did do extraordinary things with his life. He moved to the North Pole and spent the rest of his days spreading joy, making toys, and following his dreams. And his parents couldn’t have been prouder.

Reindeer Dust

During one particularly foggy Christmas Eve, Santa and his reindeer were busier than ever. So busy, in fact, that the reindeer didn’t get any food before their big night! They were also having problems delivering toys because they couldn’t see to land the sleigh. They looked and looked for the houses they knew were below, but Santa and his trusty reindeer just didn’t know what to do.

Down below, a young boy named William, worried about the fog and what it could mean for Christmas, came up with a plan to help the reindeer. He made some Reindeer Dust! Made of oats, bran, and brown sugar, this sparkly concoction would surely be seen by Santa and his magical (and hungry) reindeer. William shared his wonderful mixture with the children nearby, and after sprinkling the Reindeer Dust on the ground and affirming their believe in Santa’s magic, the children went to bed with hope in their hearts.

Thanks to William and his quick thinking, the reindeer above made their way to the paths illuminated by the Reindeer Dust. Christmas was saved, and the children were filled with delight on Christmas morning, knowing that they had done their part in making this holiday all it should be.

Reindeer Dust, written by Kate Dwyer and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, is a welcome addition to the many books shared with families during the holiday season. It includes a poem to be read on Christmas Eve as well as an easy recipe for Reindeer Dust. The recipe alone is enough to ensure that this book earns its place in many families’ holiday traditions. (I know my nieces will love making–and sampling–the stuff!) It may also be a fun activity for those last days of school before winter break. Little readers would have something to take home and share with their loved ones, and the joy inspired by this charming book would spread far and wide!

The Gingerbread Pirates

The Gingerbread Pirates, written by Kristin Kladstrup and illustrated by Matt Tavares, is a perfect Christmas book for boys–or anyone who loves pirates!

When Jim gets the idea to make a crew of gingerbread pirates, he never expects them to come to life. When Jim is sleeping and waiting on Santa to arrive, the pirates, led by Captain Cookie, try to band together so that this mysterious Santa Claus doesn’t eat them. When they meet the jolly old man, however, the pirates are in for a bit of a surprise. It seems that Santa has a gift for even them!

After reading this book, I foresee lots of children trying to make their own gingerbread pirates in the hopes that the cookies will come to life and have an adventure of their own. That should make for a fun Christmas Eve!

A Pirate’s Night Before Christmas

A Pirate’s Night before Christmas, written by Philip Yates and illustrated by Sebastia Serra, is definitely a departure from the traditional ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas tale. The rhymes are set up in a similar fashion, but imagine if you will a Christmas Eve aboard a pirate ship. The pirates are not “nestled all snug in their beds,” and they’re not waiting on Santa Claus. No, they are doing pirate things–”snorin’ like pigs,” dreaming of treasure chests, watching for approaching ships–and waiting on Sir Peggedy (the pirate’s Santa) to appear.

And appear he did, but Sir Peggedy is about as different from Santa as it’s possible to get. He does drive a sleigh, but it’s pulled by eight seahorses. (Sir Peg arrives out of the sea, by the way.) Sir Peggedy is fat, dresses in black, is covered in seaweed, has a patch over one eye, scars on his face, a gold tooth, a hook for one hand, a peg for one leg, and a skull earring. But, like the Santa we all know, Sir Peggedy does give presents to pirates on Christmas Eve. Some of those presents we might not want–like hardtack, a plank, or eggs–but others, like a map to buried treasure, would be welcome gifts to pirates and land lubbers alike!

This is a great twist on the traditional tale we all know and love. An extremely helpful–and funny–pirate glossary is included at the back of the book for those who are unfamiliar with pirate slang.

This book might make an excellent starting point for students writing their own versions of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. How cool would it be to imagine how Star Wars characters, superheroes, aliens, animals, or other things view Christmas Eve!

The Christmas Genie

When a genie crash-lands in the middle of a 5th grade classroom on the day before Christmas break, the students are given one wish. One wish for the whole class (and none of that pesky wishing for more wishes). How do they decide what to wish for? And can they make a decision before the genie’s 2:30 deadline?

Each kid has some idea of what to wish for, but they also have to consider the possible consequences. What if a wish isn’t really as great as it seems? Always remember…be careful what you wish for!

This book was super awesome! I loved reading the arguments for or against each wish. It really made me think, especially when considering what I would wish for.

I highly recommend this book and would like to remind readers that this book is nominated for the 2011-12 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.