Thursday, December 20, 2012

Winter Comfort Reads

'Tis the season for cozy blankets, hot chocolate, and holiday comfort reads. Are there books that you re-read every year because it's part of your winter tradition? Fellow editor pal Martha and I talked about this a few years back , and she posted this and ever since then I've been accutely aware that there are certain books that just FEEL like Christmastime to me.

The Christmas Dolls. This one's top of my list, because despite the fact that I'm not nine years old any more, my inner reader often is. I'm not even sure when or where I acquired this book (which is long since out-of-print, though you can still find it on used book sites), but it's battered from years of re-reads. As it 1980s-tastic cover makes clear, this is a tale of orphans, snowstorms, dolls, & a very special Christmas Eve mission. It's also got a perfect--if utterly implausible--happy ending that arrives just in time, with a touch of Christmas magic. I can't really explain why out of all the books, THIS is the holiday story that imprinted on me as a lifelong favorite, but there you have it--it makes me suspend all disbelief & just believe in the goodness of people, & what more could you wish for in a holiday story, really?
(This is the copy I had as a kid.)

(This is the current cover. Much better!)
Angels &Other Strangers
This short story collection was on my family's bookshelves when I was a kid. Each time I re-read it, I'm reminded all over again of Katherine Paterson's incredible power as a storyteller &observer of the world: novel or short-story, she delivers honest, timeless truths about how important hope is, &how much, as people, we need each other.    

Little Women
The first line couldn't be more engaging, could it? "'Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents,' Jo grumbled, lying on the rug." It's Victorian-era Christmas warmth and miracles and hope and family love in all its glory!

(I do confess that some years I skip the re-read and go for one of the movie versions instead.)


And finally, one of my own! A Christmas Goodnight is a modern classic in my mind; the perfect hybrid between Goodnight Moon and the familiar Nativity story. My illustrator Sarah Jane Wright shows some of her wonderful interior artwork here (though her contest mentioned in that post is no longer live), and I talk about the process from the editorial side here. The thing I perhaps love most about this book is that ever since I first began working with this text over 5 years ago, it unconsciously runs through my mind over and over at Midnight Mass each year. I'm a biased editor and all, but if you're looking for a new Christmas picture book to add to your family's collection, it's pretty perfect for sharing, reading aloud, and for talking with kids about the connections between the long-ago Nativity story & their own lives.

What are YOUR holiday/winter comfort reasons? Share them in the comments!