Children’s books: last minute gift ideas for toddlers

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There’s not much time left for Christmas shopping, but here are a few books that might do the trick as last-minute gifts – the first two titles are best for ages three to seven.

Twenty big trucks in the middle of Christmas

By Mark Lee

Illustrated by Kurt Cyrus

Candlewick Press

Little boys (or girls) who love trucks will be interested in the various contraptions in this picture book that help clear a snowy space in the center of town for a huge Christmas tree – everything from a fateful donut truck. to a snow plow to a boomer truck with basket crane. The text is simple but the illustrations are colorful and detailed, perfect even for those who are too young to read on their own (but who can certainly reckon with the reader).

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Little reindeer

Written and illustrated by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

Books on the tundra

A charming story about a little reindeer who longs to be part of Santa’s Christmas preparations but whose size is against him. When Santa suggests that he help in the mail room, he finds a letter from a little girl whose grandfather made her a beautiful little wooden sled but not a reindeer to accompany her. The little reindeer, with the help of Santa Claus, fills the void and finds a new home in the process.

The cover pages of the book are an integral part of the plot, with the cover page showing a little girl displaying a letter from her rural home while the back page shows her running through the snow with a small sledge in her hand. the little reindeer, harnessed to the sled, flies forward.

The legend of the Christmas witch

By Dan Murphy & Aubrey Plaza

Illustrated by Julia Iredale

Viking

6 to 9 years old

This tale of abandoned babies twins in the Black Forest has decidedly folk / fairy tale overtones – but in the manner of the Grimm brothers before a Disney disinfection. Kristoffer and his sister Kristtörn (Norwegian for Holly), had magical traits that helped them survive in the forest and they became very close until one day a Danish couple found the young boy and, thinking he was alone, brought him home and adopted him.

Her sister, who remained behind, was found by Lutzelfrau, a witch who brought her home and taught her to celebrate Yuletide (i.e. the winter solstice). One year, Malachi, Lutzelfrau’s messenger crow, arrives with the news that the villagers are turning on Kristtörn, accusing him of witchcraft. Lutzelfrau tells the girl to leave the Black Forest for her own safety and, since Malachi also makes talk about her brother, Kristtörn decides to find him.

Caught in a storm at sea, however, she lands at the South Pole instead of the North Pole, where her brother, now known as Kris Kringle, lives. Eventually, the two siblings hook up, but Kristtörn doesn’t really live happily ever after. The book is beautifully illustrated by British Columbia artist Julia Iredale (although it depicts Kris’s sleigh with six reindeer when the text says eight).

– Bernie Goedhart


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