Merry Christmas!

OUTSTANDING CHRISTMAS STORIES

PICTURE BOOKS

Arthur's Christmas

Brown, Marc. Arthur’s Christmas. Boston: Little, Brown, c1984.

Arthur's Perfect Christmas

Brown, Marc. Arthur’s Perfect Christmas. Boston: Little, Brown, 2000.

A Christmas Memory

Capote, Truman. A Christmas Memory. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, [2014], c1984.

The Money We'll Save

Cole, Brock. The Money We’ll Save. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011.

Little Tree

Cummings, E. E. Little Tree. New York : Hyperion Books for Children, 2001.
Inspired by the poem by E.E. Cummings, Chris Raschka illustrates and and tells the story of a small tree that finds its dream comes true when it becomes a beloved Christmas tree.

Little Tree

Cummings, E.E. Little Tree. Shaftesbury, Dorset : Element Children’s Books, c1999.

Quiet gentle illustrations by Mary Claire Smith. A lovely chance to talk about how illustrations affect the mood of a story.

The Legend of the Poinsettia

dePaola, Tomie. The Legend of the Poinsettia. New York : Putnam, 1994.

Great Joy

DiCamillo, Kate. Great Joy. Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2007.

“Just before Christmas, when Frances sees a sad-eyed organ grinder and his monkey performing near her apartment, she cannot stop thinking about them, wondering where they go at night, and wishing she could do something to help.” – CIP.

Stick Man

Donaldson, Julia. Stick Man. New York : Arthur A. Levine Books, 2008.
Have fun finding all the subtle allusions to the deep meaning of the traditional Christmas story!

“Julia Donaldson powerfully portrays the meaning of Christmas in her picture book Stick Man (Arthur A. Levine, 2008). In the story, the Stick Man is living in a tree house. Then a dog plays a trick on him and everyone starts treating him like a nonliving thing: a pen, a stick, a twig… Finally, Santa Claus comes and rescues him and helps him get back home. Similarly, in the original story of Christmas, Adam and Eve are living in the Garden of Eden. Then the snake tricks Eve into eating an apple that god has forbidden, and all the men and woman are punished, until Jesus comes and forgives them.
“In my own life, there have been times I have felt dead and other times when I felt fully alive. For example, I felt dead when I was injured and when I had to watch what my soccer team or basketball team were doing instead of playing with them. I felt lonely; nobody paid any attention to me. But when I came back and did something spectacular, I felt fully alive again, and full of absolute happiness.
“While Donaldson’s silly story, Stick Man, is for young children, I think it also requires deep thinking and can be appreciated by all readers.” (Eric in grade eight)

Write your own response: 
“Julia Donaldson powerfully portrays the meaning of Christmas in her picture book Stick Man (Arthur A. Levine, 2008)….
“In my own life, …
“…I think…”

A Christmas Tree for Pyn

Dunrea, Olivier. A Christmas Tree for Pyn. Philomel, 2011.

As she impatiently waits for Santa's arrival, Olivia the pig tries to help with family preparations on the day before Christmas

Falconer, Ian. Olivia Helps with Christmas. New York: Atheneum, 2007.

12 Days of Christmas

Isadora, Rachel. 12 Days of Christmas. New York : G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2010.

Baseball Bats for Christmas

Kusugak, Michael Arvaarluk. Baseball Bats for Christmas. Toronto : Annick Press, 1990.

The Night Before Christmas

Moore, Clement. The Night Before Christmas. Illustrated by Tomie de Paola. New York : Holiday House, 2010, c1980.

The Night Before Christmas

Moore, Clement. The Night Before Christmas. Retold and illustrated by Rachel Isadora. New York : G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2009. 

Oppenheim, Joanne. The miracle of the First Poinsettia : a Mexican Christmas Story. Cambridge, MA: Barefoot, 2003.

“A retelling of a Mexican legend that describes the origin of the Poinsettia plant. In this version, a young girl has nothing to give the Christ child, but when the weeds she carries in her hands miraculously transform into red flowers, she now has the perfect gift.” – CIP.

A Japanese Boy Learns of Christmas when his mother decorates a pine tree with paper cranes.

Say, Allen. Tree of Cranes. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 1991.

“A Japanese boy learns of Christmas when his mother decorates a pine tree with paper cranes.” – CIP.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Seuss, Dr. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! New York : Random House, c1985.

It's Christmas, David!

Shannon, David. It’s Christmas, David! New York : Blue Sky Press, 2010.

A West Coast Christmas

Templeman, Anne. A West Coast Christmas. Vancouver : Whitecap Books, 1999.

A Child's Christmas in Wales

Thomas, Dylan. A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2004.

The Christmas Magic

Thompson, Lauren. The Christmas Magic. New York : Scholastic Press, 2009.

The Polar Express

Van Allsburg, Chris. The Polar Express. Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1985.

The Man Who Walked the Earth

Wallace, Ian. The Man Who Walked the Earth. Toronto : Groundwood Books, 2003.

Under the Star: a Christmas Counting Story

Yolen, Jane. Under the Star: a Christmas Counting Story. Toronto : Key Porter Kids, 2009.

NOVELS and NOVELLAS

The Christmas Rat

Avi. The Christmas Rat. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2002, c2000.

Eleven-year-old Eric is home alone while his parents are at work during the Christmas holidays when a pest exterminator arrives and recruits him to help rid the apartment building of rats. But events rapidly turn sinister and Eric ends up risking his life to rescue a rat from the mysterious Anje Gabrail.  This unique story will appeal to readers who like being left with a mystery to solve for themselves.

The In-Between Days

Bunting, Eve. The In-Between Days. New York : HarperCollins, 1994.

Eleven-year-old George is not fond of his father’s new girlfriend. Maybe he can get rid of her before Christmas!

The Family Under the Bridge

Carlson, Natalie Savage. The Family Under the Bridge. New York : HarperTrophy, 1989, c1958.

Jake

Couloumbis, Audrey. Jake. New York : Random House, 2010.
Ten-year-old Jake’s grandfather comes to care for him after his mother breaks her leg. How will Christmas be joyous with this gruff old man in charge of everything? (Single-parent families; Grandfathers; Accidents; Hospitals; Maryland; Trust)

A Christmas Carol

Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. Mankato, MN : Creative Editions, 2015, c1990.

The True Gift: A Christmas Story

MacLachlan, Patrica. The True Gift: A Christmas Story. New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2009.
When Lily and Liam go to stay in the country with their grandparents for Christmas, they discover White Cow forlornly standing alone in a snowy field. Her companion, Rosie the donkey, has moved to another farm. Compassionately, Liam sets aside the books he’d planned to read and resolutely sets out to find a new companion for sad White Cow.  All MacLachlan’s novels are heartwarming, but this one is truly a treasure, perfect for reading aloud or sharing with a friend. Recommended for readers 7 years old and up.

Good and Perfect Gifts

Moser, Barry. Good and Perfect Gifts : an illustrated retelling of O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi. Boston : Little, Brown, c1997.

“Based on the classic story in which a husband and wife sacrifice treasured possessions in order to buy each other Christmas presents.” – CIP.

Christmas Sonata

Paulsen, Gary. A Christmas Sonata. New York : Delacorte Press, c1992.
A young boy spends Christmas of 1943 with his mother and dying cousin in northern Minnesota while his father is overseas fighting in the war.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Robinson, Barbara. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. New York: HarperTrophy, 1988, c1972.

A Very Merry Christmas

Stilton, Geronimo. A Very Merry Christmas. New York : Scholastic, 2007.

The Long Winter

Wilder, Laura Ingalls. The Long Winter. New York : HarperTrophy, 1971.
Laura and her family struggle to survive the winter of 1880-81 in Dakota Territory. Snowstorms isolate them and their food supply runs dangerously low. Nevertheless, Christmas is creatively celebrated in this novel based on the author’s own childhood.

NONFICTION

Christmas Remembered

dePaola, Tomie. Christmas Remembered. New York : G. P. Putnam Sons, 2006.
The well-known author and illustrator shares 15 of his own memories of Christmas in this lovely collection which will appeal to both children and adults.

Christmas in the Trenches

McCutcheon, John. Christmas in the Trenches.  Atlanta : Peachtree, 2006.

Truce

Murphy, Jim. Truce: the Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting. New York : Scholastic Press, 2009.

Franklin and Winston

Wood, Douglas. Franklin and Winston: a Christmas that Changed the World. Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2011. 

Stories of the ‘Traditional Christmas’

World Book Online Christmas research sheet: ‘WBO

Read to Create

Instead of writing a report, why not make a model?

Directions for making your own project

Grade eight science students in Mr. Apostolopoulos’s class made models of cells using styrofoam and wood, using cookies, cake and even pizza!

model by Ryan

model by Roshan, Ryan and Shane

Learn about cells by reading some of these books:

Johnson, Rebecca L. Daring Cell Defenders. Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook Press, 2008. “Bacteria and viruses are all around you. If they get inside your body, they can make you very sick. Fortunately, your body is built to keep illness-causing invaders out. If some do get in, special cells inside your body come to the rescue.” — back cover

Johnson, Rebecca L. Powerful Plants. Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook Press, 2008.  “You probably know that all living things need food to survive, including plants. So where do plants get their food? They make it themselves! This book takes you inside plant cells and shows you up-close photos of all the differentt cell parts.” — back cover

Johnson, Rebecca L. Ultra-organized Cell Systems. Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook Press, 2008.  “Do you realize there are about 100 trillion cells in your body? That’s a lot of cells to manage! It’s a good thing they are organized into systems that all work together. This book takes you on a journey inside your body to see many types of cells, and more–magnified hundreds or thousands of times larger than their actual size.” — back cover

Keyser, Amber. The Basics of Cell Life with Max Axiom. Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2010.  A graphic novel about the basics of plant and animal cells.

Rogers, Kirsteen. Complete Book of the Microscope. London, UK: Usborne, 2006. “Winner of the Rhone-Poulenc Junior Science book Prize, this book is a breathtaking introduction to an extraordinary new dimension. Fantastic photographs, thousands of even millions of time larger than life, reveal the secrets of the micro universe, while step-by-step project ideas and Internet links to recommended websites will help you set off on a micro world tour of your own.” — back cover