A ROUNDUP OF THE BEST NEW HANUKKAH BOOKS FOR KIDS 2023 REVIEWS: LATKE'S FIRST…
Written by Tom Brenner
Illustrated by Jana Christy
(Candlewick, $15.99, Ages 4-8)
When your children seem especially eager for Christmas to come, then it’s time to reach for Brenner and Christy’s gentle, sequential countdown story AND THEN COMES CHRISTMAS. In a lovely lyrical style, Brenner follows a When/Then narrative that evokes all the special sights, sounds, and smells of the season. “When the days barely start and they’re over again, and red berries blaze against green shrubs, and bare branches rake across the sky … Then hang boughs of fir or spruce or pine, dotted with cones and bits of holly, welcoming winter.”
In a snowy setting that looks vaguely like rural New England, two siblings engage in holiday traditions at school, at home, and in the community. Brenner introduces wonderful imagery (“Wrap yourself in layers and tumble out of doors to romp in snow as smooth as bedcovers”) and accessible yet descriptive vocabulary (blaze, cling, dwindle) to set a joyous anticipatory scene. Visiting Santa, selecting a tree, baking goodies, and making gifts are just a few of the holiday highlights.
Christy’s illustrations balance cool, snowy outdoor landscapes with warm, cozy interiors. The blotted, misty edges add to an overall dreamy glow with lots of child-like appeal. The sister and brother are a cheery pair of role models, cooperative, considerate, and connected. Parents will certainly hope young listeners feel inspired to recreate the satisfying scenes with as much seasonal spirit as these two do! Following the family’s lively little black dog throughout the book will be a fun attention-keeper for little ones.
AND THEN COMES CHRISTMAS is a well-paced picture book that highlights many of the special down-to-earth holiday moments that children savor. It is a lovely choice to add to your family’s Christmas reading traditions!
- Reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey
Where Obtained: I reviewed a promotional copy of AND THEN COMES CHRISTMAS and received no compensation. The opinions expressed here are my own.