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One of the pleasures of the holiday season is finding new Christmas stories to cherish. Worthy titles this year include "Stowaway in a Sleigh" by C. Roger Mader about a cat that climbs into Santa's bag and goes on a surprising journey as a result. Or "Refuge" by Anne Booth, which follows the Holy Family after they leave the stable. But sometimes it's the familiar tales like familiar friends that bring us the most joy, the most comfort. With this thought in mind, The Tribune recently asked some of our local children's authors which Christmas books they revisit year after year.
Jennifer Adams • Every Christmas Eve after the food and liveliness wind down, we gather to read "A Child's Christmas in Wales" by Dylan Thomas. You can hear the singing and the bells and taste the snow on your tongue. It's every Christmas all wrapped into one lovely poem. (http://www.jennifer-adams.com)
Ally Condie • We love "Wombat Divine" by Mem Fox. It's a sweet story about a wombat who wants a part in the Nativity, but doesn't quite fit the mold of what the others have in mind. My kids love the different animals and the lovely illustrations, and the ending is perfect and inclusive. They ask for it every year. (http://www.allycondie.com)
Jessica Day George • I love "Let It Snow" by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle, which feels just as fresh and funny with every read. Three connected novellas tell the story of a group of teens on Christmas Eve who find their lives complicated by a snowstorm, a stranded train, a Waffle House full of cheerleaders, and a teacup pig. My new favorite Christmas picture book is "The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold" by Maureen Fergus. Santa Claus isn't sure he believes in Harold anymore; after all, many of his friends don't believe in Harold, and the Harold he saw at the mall looked totally different, along with all the usual arguments that kids give for not believing in Santa Claus. So Santa decides to hide out and wait for Harold, just as Harold decides to do the same thing and found out the truth about Santa! Utterly delightful. (http://www.jessicadaygeorge.com)
Becky Hall • My absolute no-doubt-about-it favorite holiday book is "Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree" by Robert Barry. I think it was out of print and then (oh joy!) it was re-released. I love the creativity, sweet illustrations and those mice! A new favorite is this year's Jerry Pinkney-illustrated book by Lisa Wheeler called "The Christmas Boot." I love the message. (beckyhallbooks.com)
Mette Harrison • I love "Letters From Father Christmas" by J.R.R. Tolkien for older kids. My son's favorite is "The Gingerbread Doll" by Susan Tews, mostly because it makes me cry. It's such a sweet story of a Depression-era Christmas. (http://www.metteivieharrison.com)
Kim Williams-Justesen • One of our favorites is "Only a Star" by the late Margery Facklam. It's a beautiful retelling of the Nativity with accurate naturalist information. And the illustrations are sweet. (http://www.kwjustesen.com)
Dene Low (Laura Card) • "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey" by Susan Wojciechowski is a picture book with a heartfelt story of how love can transform more than one person. Set in the 1800s, the illustration is gorgeous with intricate watercolors and subtle colors. This book is a treasure our family reads every year, but I have to have my husband read it out loud to everyone because it makes me cry every time. (http://www.denelow.com)
Sherry Meidell • Every Christmas Eve we would gather around the tree and my husband would read the Reader's Digest version of "Stubby Pringle's Christmas" by Jack Schaefer, the story of a lonesome cowboy heading out Christmas Eve to the town dance who gives it all up to help a poor homestead family. My husband read this story for years as the boys grew to manhood. Last Christmas one of the boys found the illustrated book and gave it to my husband. The last three sentences of the story are "Stubby is wiser than we are. He knows, he will always know, who it was, plump and jolly and belly bouncing, that spoke to him that night out on the wind whipped winter-worn mountainside. We-e-l-l-l- do-o-n-e pa-a-rt-ner!" (http://www.sherrymeidellart.com)
Carla Morris • "The Night Before Christmas" illustrated by Holly Hobbie is my favorite version of the famous Clement C. Moore poem. Soft gray and red illustrations are inspired by Holly's memories of a past country Christmas Eve when her children were small. Illustrations of a child too young to verbalize what she sees is a fun perspective that adds to the uniqueness of the memorable night.
Jan Pinborough • "Santa Calls" by William Joyce. A mysterious summons from S.C. takes a pair of estranged siblings from Abilene, Texas, to the North Pole, where they battle Dark Elves and find not only Santa himself but a much more meaningful gift. Siblings everywhere will find both laughter and deep resonance in the adventures and ultimate reconciliation of Art and Esther Aimesworth. This is William Joyce at his best and most heartfelt! (http://www.missmoorethoughtotherwise.com/author)
Alison Randall • Although it's not technically a Christmas book, I read "The Bronze Bow" by Elizabeth George Speare nearly every Christmas. The author does such an amazing job at setting the scene in Israel at the time of Christ that it's almost like taking a trip there. (http://www.alisonlrandall.com)
Liesl Shurtliff • "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry. My mom read it to me as a child. I think I was too young to understand the true message of the story, but I was enthralled and horrified when Della (spoiler alert!) chops off all her long, beautiful hair! Tragedy! (http://www.lieslshurtliff.com)
Leigh Statham (Gwen Holt) • "Christmas Day in the Morning" by Pearl S. Buck. I love everything she's written, and this sweet Christmas picture book completes the collection perfectly. (http://www.leighstatham.com)
Wendy Toliver • A favorite holiday read for my family and me is Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Not only is it imaginative and enormously entertaining, my own heart grows when the seemingly incorrigible Grinch finally understands what it means to possess the Christmas spirit. And, I believe everyone can appreciate a green (literally and figuratively) hero's attempts to make good with the world. (http://www.wendytoliver.com)
Jen White • "Grumpy Badger's Christmas" by Paul Bright is a spin on Scrooge and his infamous words, "Bah humbug," although the main character, Grumpy Badger, likes to exclaim "Oh piffle!" when he is interrupted by well-meaning Christmas wishers. The illustrations are rich, quirky, and some pages, packed with Grumpy Badger's hibernation stash, make me genuinely hungry. (http://www.jenwhitebooks.com)