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December 2018

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Recommended by Melinda at Kendale Lakes Branch

William’s Winter Nap
Written by Linda Ashman; illustrated by Chuck Groenink

Little boy in bed surrounded by small animals illustrated

A little boy named William is getting ready for a nap, but each time he settles into bed, there is a tap, a knock, a ping or a boom. Each time he investigates the noise, he discovers a forest creature looking to share his soft, warm bed. William makes room and is soon squeezed in with four new furry friends. When a crunch is heard outside and a note asking if there’s any more room is slipped beneath the door, William opens it to find a bear looking for shelter! For a moment, he and his friends think to refuse, but they quickly realize they can make more room—and that the bear will help keep them warm. They invite him in and everyone snuggles up for a long winter nap.

Linda Ashman writes a touching story of a young boy who readily offers others shelter in his bed, making sure everyone stays warm. The short poem by the arriving critter is cute, and the refrain as William and the others scooch to make space is repetitive and sweet. Their initial reaction to the bear is not about his nature, but his size, and their quick consent is a lesson in sharing. Chuck Groenink’s illustrations are full of details and emotion, and the animals are expressive and detailed.

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Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama
Written and illustrated by Selina Alko

A father with Christmas decorations and a mother with Hanukkah candles illustrated

Sadie tells the story of how Christmas and Hanukkah intertwine at her house for a celebration of both, since her father celebrates one and her mother celebrates the other. There are stockings on the mantle and latkes left for Santa, and that’s just the beginning! Gelt goes under the tree and candy canes hang from the menorah. Turkey is stuffed with cranberry kugel, while jelly donuts and fruitcake form a festive meal. Traditional tales from both holidays fill the air. All through the day and night, Christmas and Hanukkah are celebrated equally by Sadie, her mom and her dad. Moreover, the tradition continues all year round.

Selina Alko writes a beautifully personal story demonstrating how a family can combine—and respect—the cultures of both sides. Each holiday is given equal coverage, with popular symbols spread throughout the book and backstories for both. Multimedia collage touches give the tale a warm, cozy feeling that’s enhanced by the characters.

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’Twas Nochebuena: A Christmas Story in English and Spanish
Written by Roseanne Greenfield Thong; illustrated by Sara Palacios

Young girl outdoors holding poincettias with a town in the background

Written with the pacing of The Night Before Christmas, ’Twas Nochebuena follows a family through their holiday preparations. They cook and stuff their tamales and decorate their tree. They gather for a parade and carols, and the traditional seeking of shelter. And they play games and break open a piñata. Then it is off to church before the holiday feast. With gifts under the tree, it is a whole evening of celebration before they go home to sleep and wish each other “Feliz Navidad.”

Roseanne Greenfield Thong writes a marvelous story of how a family spends Nochebuena and ties it to a familiar holiday tale. She visits all the details of the night, making sure to trace every action. Sara Palacios provides detailed close‑ups of the characters that emphasize their emotional connections, and even more detailed backgrounds that make the locations pop off the page. From the building signs to the floor coverings, to the wires hanging from the mantle and the wreaths hanging from the wall, all are depicted with equal care.

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Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas
Written by Pamela Ehrenberg; illustrated by Anjan Sarkar

Little girl wearing a crown standing on a table with Hanukkah food and decorations

The main character of the story is celebrating Hanukkah with Indian dosas that he will make with his family, but he would prefer not to make them with his little sister Sadie’s help. You see, Sadie climbs too much; she does nothing but climb wherever she goes and whatever she is doing. Nevertheless, his mom, dad and amma‑amma do not pay his complaints any mind. Sunday after Hebrew school, the whole family heads to the Indian market to get the dal for the dosas. As soon as they turn their backs on Sadie, up she climbs onto a pile of cans—and she won’t come down! So her brother sings a little song stuck in his head from Hebrew school: “I have a little dosa; I made it out of dal,” and Sadie comes right down. Several times during the day, he calls upon this song to get his sister to climb down from wherever she’s perched. However, he will have to finish the song when Sadie is the only one who can let them back in the house after they are locked out in the middle of cooking the all‑important dosas. Will Sadie save the day to become Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas?

Pamela Ehrenberg writes a charming story that not only explores how other cultures put their personal spin on holidays, but also how mischief can be converted into something different with a little effort. Anjan Sarkar’s illustrations are gorgeous and full of life‑like emotion. The outlining makes the characters leap off the page, and the backgrounds are richly detailed to fill in the story.

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My Family Celebrates Kwanzaa
Written by Lisa Bullard; illustrated by Constanza Basaluzzo

A family gathered celebrating Kwanzaa and lighting candles

Kevin shows how his family gets ready for Kwanzaa. He sets out the mat, the candleholder and candles, fruits and vegetables, and the unity cup with his mom. He describes how Kwanzaa lasts for seven days and how different candles are lit each evening, and every night has a different meaning. Kevin also tells how Kwanzaa began. He lights the candle on the seventh night and celebrates faith, with his grandfather telling him he must believe in their people every day.

Lisa Bullard writes a sweet and informative book about a holiday steeped in history, community and cultural pride. It is straightforward and accessible. She provides critical reading questions and a glossary at the end, as well as a learn more resource section. Constanza Basaluzzo’s wonderful animation‑style illustrations, reminiscent of children’s cartoons, keep one’s attention throughout the book.

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