In a world where even a classic like A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh gets turned into an all smiley-faced Disney version, I love books that take kids seriously and dare to be a little different. So here's a list of books my kids will be getting for Christmas.
Well, actually they already got one of them for Nikolaus. Nikolaus, or St. Nicholas or whatever he is called in the English-speaking world, comes December 6. As a kid, you clean your boots and put them out the front door, and if you're lucky, the next morning they're filled with chocolate, tangerines, nuts and maybe a small gift or two. It's sort of like your Christmas stockings I guess, just earlier. It's the perfect time to give Christmas books, because really, who needs Christmas books for Christmas when all the fun is already over? So this year my kids got two Pettson & Findus Christmas books. And this one:
It's called The Lion, The Unicorn and Me (obviously I have the German version, "Der Löwe, das Einhorn und ich") and it's by Jeanette Winterson. The story is told by the donkey and it starts with an angel coming to earth trying to find the one animal that can carry Jesus and his mother in the night that he is born.
The angel talks to every animal (using the list that was left over from Noah's arch), and ends up choosing the donkey. Love the so very pregnant belly in this picture.
The donkey tells the whole story, including the holy night, and how he
sings along with the angels and how an angel's foot touches his nose.
The story is very calm and quiet but also full of funny details. I loved
it and big broher also liked it, but little brother was a little too
fussy the last few days to really listen at night. But that's ok because
this book will be with us for quite a while.
Then I have a pile waiting for Christmas, and I want to show you three of them. I love Children's books with real illustrations. Not your standard, cutesy children's books that seem to think kids don't deserve better. Books that are different.
Like this one. It's called Die große Rallye by Jochen Stuhrmann, and I haven't found it in English.It's about a big animal race. They all gather at the start, ready to go and race.
On every page, something happens to one of them that forces them to quit the race.
They get stuck on the side of the road.
Or, and this is my favorite, Sir Henry Hanover. He's taken his convertible and his six cousins are travelling with him. Unfortunately, all their hats get lost.
So Sir Henry has to stop his car and get them all back.
In the end, only one of them makes it to the finish line. But surprise - he has picked up all the other animals along the way and so they all win.
In the non-fiction category (yes, we always have non-fiction books for Christmas, too) my favorite is Wo geht's lang? (Where do we go?) by Heekyoung Kim. The book's original edition is Korean. It's a book about how maps explain the world. Even if you can't find it in English, it's still worth it because the maps really do most of the talking.
It shows the same cities and how today the subway maps reflect what has changed.
I love this page, where it explains how navigation systems work. Because come to think of it, kids will still need to know about maps in school and all that, but in their daily life, navigation systems are much more common.
Here's another fictional one. And another one I love for it's illustrations and for the sheer craziness of the story. My kids love crazy stories. The ones that just tell a story, without the author trying to lecture them about something. Just a good story. Preferably one where even mommy and daddy can't tell how it's going to end. Enter Oops! by Jean-Luc Fromental (it's called Oups! in Germany, btw). The title basically sums up the storyline.
Don't you just love the inner lining of the book?
A family is ready to go on vacation and on their way to the airport, when something goes wrong.
And then, everything goes wrong. Really everything. And they go from one mess to the next.
In the end, they miss their flight. But they still make it to their destination...
So these are my current favorites. Would love to hear about yours, because, really, one can never have too many (good) children's books.