Every year I look for a new Christmas book to share with my children. A book featuring magical illustrations that evoke a feeling of childhood innocence and an equally inviting story sharing the wonder of Christmas. It is now our family tradition to read this book before our kids get tucked into bed on Christmas Eve.
This year I can not decide between two Jan Brett titles: The Night Before Christmas (the 10th anniversary edition) and Home for Christmas. Both are equally lovely and fit all my Christmas book requirements. I have always enjoyed sharing Jan Brett's picture books with children. Her art work is wonderfully detailed and always features smaller pictures in a border that tell another aspect of the story.
In her version of The Night Before Christmas, two elves have hidden in Santa's sleigh and are watching Santa deliver gifts to all the homes. The side-bar illustrations of their captivated faces is precious and adds so much delight to Clement Moore's poem. The new version includes a DVD with music by the Boston Pops and narrated by Jim Dale.
The inspiration for Jan's latest, Home for Christmas, came from a trip she took to Sweden. The pictures depict a Scandinavian landscape with many of the animals and traditional clothing she discovered there. Rollo is a naughty little troll who runs away from his family because he doesn't want to do his chores. He tries to find a new family by living with different animals. First he lives with an owl family, then some bears, and finally a herd of moose that he travels with at the beginning of winter. Rollo starts to miss his family - will he be able to find them before Christmas? The side-bar pictures in this case show what his family is doing while he is away from them.
Both of these are a delight and perfect for cozy cuddling on Christmas day - or before. We love them so much that we ended up creating a beautiful window to celebrate Jan Brett's work.