Hits for the Holidays

A roundup of new Christmas books plus a DVD set

Once again, we’ve combed through stacks of new arrivals in BookLand to bring you this roundup of Christmas picture books. A common theme: Santa and what could happen if he were unable to perform his task on Dec. 24. We also spotlight a new DVD collection of old favorites.

The Santa Trap

by Jonathan Emmett, illustrated by Poly Bernatene (Peachtree Publishers, ages 4-8, $15.95)
   Bradley Bartleby is at the top of Santa’s “Naughty List.” Every year, Santa leaves only socks for Bradley. Mr. and Mrs. Bartleby live in fear of their son, so they buy Bradley every toy possible to make up for the fact he only gets a pair of socks from Santa. Because Santa won’t bow to his demands, Bradley sets out on a year-long effort to trap Santa and his load of toys. This is an offbeat, laugh-out-loud story about a little boy who learns a life lesson, compliments of Santa! – Dana diLorenzo

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas

by Eric Litwin (Harper Collins, ages 4-8, $17.99)
   Pete the Cat is back! When Santa gets sick, the groovy feline swoops in to save Christmas.  Reminiscient of The Night Before Christmas, Pete must deliver all the gifts in time for Christmas – despite the fact he’s afraid he’s too small for such a large task. Atlanta talent Litwin doesn't disappoint in this triumphant, rhyming tale. – Felicia Barman

Santa on the Loose: A Seek and Solve Mystery!

by Bruce Hale, illustrated by Dave Garbot (HarperFestival, ages 4 and older, $7.99)
   My son fell asleep with this book. On his head. If your kids enjoy hidden picture puzzles or if you need to keep them occupied during holiday errands, this engaging book is a great idea. Find Santa on each page to solve a mystery: Who stole all the toys? After discovering the answer, check out the back for suggestions on other funny items to find hidden throughout. – Sherry Crawley

A Bit of Applause for Mrs. Claus

by Susie Schick-Pierce, Jeannie Schick-Jacobowitz and Muffin Drake-Policastro; illustrations by Wendy Wallin Malinow (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, ages 4-8, $15.99)
   What would happen if Santa got sick on Christmas Eve? In this short but sweet and brightly illustrated story, not even the crashing of a Christmas tree nor the “hullabaloo” of burning cookies stops Mrs. Claus from saving the day. She decks the halls, wraps the presents and rounds up the reindeer while Santa is stuck in bed with the flu. At the last moment, he recovers so that he can head out for his biggest night of the year. Mrs. Claus gets to put her feet up and rest at last, but not before earning “a bit of applause” from those who read this charming tale.   – Kat Sabo

The Night Santa Got Lost: How NORAD Saved Christmas

by Michael Keane (Regnery Kids, ages 4 and older, $14.95)
   An action-packed and thoughtful take on the classic The Night Before Christmas, this modern version sees Santa and his reindeer getting lost in a nasty blizzard.  Thankfully Santa is being tracked by the good people at NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) and all branches of the military come together to save Santa and Christmas. This book is a tribute to our nation’s military and helps teach children how the branches of our military work together.  – Kirsten Gromatzky


The Berenstain Bears’ Old-Fashioned Christmas

by Jan & Mike Berenstain (Harper, ages 4-8, $12.99)
   A wonderful celebration of the true meaning of Christmas to share with your children, this story finds the Bear family heading to the home of Grizzly Gramps and Gran for the holidays.  Gramps declares there will be no TV and no video games and the family embarks on a traditional Christmas full of baking, caroling, decorating and games.  The book includes lyrics to traditional Christmas songs and instructions on how to make Christmas tree ornaments with your family. The Berenstain Bears’ series is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. A fine title to add to your  Berenstain Bears’ collection.  – KG

The Birds of Bethlehem

by Tomie dePaola (Nancy Paulsen/Penguin, ages 3-5, $16.99).
From the award-winning author and artist of Strega Nona and dozens more lovely picture books comes this tale of the Nativity told from the perspective of various “birds of Bethlehem.” Sensing that something “strange indeed” and “extraordinary” has occurred, the birds piece the details together. Their observations include “people coming over the hills,” a couple being led to a stable, and an angel in the sky delivering “tidings of great joy.” DePaola’s acrylic paintings are warm and quietly expressive. A wonderful introduction to the story of Christmas. – Julie Bookman

Santa from Cincinnati

by Judi Barret, illustrations by Kevin Hawkes (Atheneum, ages 4-8, $16.99).
If your kids loved the silliness of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, the same author delivers another clever and humorous tale. This time, learn how a kid named Santa turned into the Santa we know today. From an early age, Santa Claus knew he was different. For starters, the doctor diagnosed him with a jovial disposition. Then there were signs such as his love of reindeer and his toy-making abilities. As soon as we put the book down, my young listener proclaimed, “Read it again!” This is a wonderful and silly tale the whole family can enjoy. – Jordan Lisvosky

The Original Christmas Classics from Classic Media

(DVD box set, $29.93, Blu-ray box set, $44.95)
Celebrate holiday fun with some of your favorite Christmas friends. This box set (two DVDs) features 275 minutes of some of the most cherished holiday TV specials of all time, including “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman” and “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” Watch as Rudolph goes down in history, Frosty the Snowman comes to life and Kris Kringle saves Christmas. – Sarah Egan