Holiday Books: There Can Be Only One (Part Two)
And we’re back! Okay, so to continue yesterday’s post, let’s look at each holiday (post-Easter) and I’ll list the one book that typifies that holiday to me.
Green City by Allan Drummond
Paired with his other books (Pedal Power: How One Community Became the Bicycle Capital of the World and Energy Island: How One Community Harnessed the Wind and Changed Their World) Mr. Drummond has made a career out of giving us hope. He finds people who do the right thing for the environment and highlights them. A perfect Earth Day pairing.
Cinco de Mayo
Let Me Help / ¡Quiero Ayudar! by Alma Flor Ada, ill. Angela Dominguez
Though the pickings be slim they aren’t impossible. Cinco de Mayo books are far and few between in the States. Fortunately the pairing of Ada and Dominguez is inspired. If you can choose only one book for this holiday (though you hardly have a choice in the matter) let it be this one.
Mrs. White Rabbit by Gilles Bachelet
The Daddy Mountain by Jules Feiffer
I hate to high heaven the fact that this book is currently out-of-print. I say “currently” because by gum I will work tooth and nail get this thing back in print at some point. It’s a staple in our home. Best daddy book ever.
All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson, ill. E.B. Lewis
When I lived in Harlem the Juneteenth Festival would take place on a single day and take over two or three full city blocks. I loved it. Sometimes we’d host friends and they’d confess they’d never heard of Juneteenth before. I feel it’s a holiday gaining traction and that this is the book to explain everything about it absolutely perfectly.
Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story by Reem Faruqi
A clever dual story about a girl thrilled to death that she’s old enough to fast with her family while, at the same time, worrying about what her classmates will think of her. I like books that weave original, interesting stories around subjects you’re just trying to teach.
Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet S. Wong
Of all the books on this list, surely this one is the most clear cut a winner, yes?
Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur
New Year at the Pier : A Rosh Hashanah Story by April Halprin Waylan, ill. Stéphane Jorisch
Every winter at Tablet Magazine Marjorie Ingall will publish her list of the best Jewish children’s books of the year. In 2009 she included this book on the list, and since that time she’s often referred back to it. As she wrote, “It’s funny; it’s moving; it’s lyrical; there’s good dialogue. Best of all, it shows how hard apologizing can be, and how cathartic.” Awesome.
Shanghai Sukkah by Heidi Smith Hyde, ill. Jing Jing Tsong
An aspect of world history I simply didn’t know. Just ahead of WWII some Jewish families relocated to China. It’s not exactly breaking new ground with its friendship story, but there’s some good history in there, as well as a historical moment never seen before in a children’s book (though correct me if I’m wrong).
Prince of Fire: The Story of Diwali by retold by Jatinder Verma, ill. Nilesh Mistry
I loved this book last year! A heavily (and colorfully) illustrated early chapter book, Diwali gets the full folktale treatment here. Plus it’s gorgeous to look at. What’s not to love?
Coyote Columbus Story by Thomas King, ill. William Kent Monkman
As far as I’m concerned, this book should be required reading each and every Columbus Day. Plus, check out that female trickster. Name me any other female trickster characters off the top of your head. Can’t do it? Another reason to read this book.
And Then Comes Halloween by Tom Brenner, ill. Holly Meade
There are so many ways to go with Halloween book recommendations, but for me this book summarizes all the aspects of the season that I like in a fun, beautifully illustrated manner.
Day of the Dead = El Día de los Muertos
Funny Bones : Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh
I’m percolating a new theory. I believe, honestly and truly, that the Day of the Dead is the coolest holiday in the world. Any time that people can dress up like skeletons, you know you’re on to something good. Plus Tonatiuh has the history to back this one up.
Rolling Thunder by Kate Messner, Greg Ruth
I’m not entirely certain if this one is out yet. What I do know is that it’s one of the more badass veteran titles out there. A boy and his grandfather join in with the annual motorcycle brigade to pay tribute at the Vietnam War Memorial. Be sure to pair this with the upcoming Maya Lin picture book biography by Jeanne Walker Harvey.
Squid for President by Aaron Reynolds, ill. Sara Varon
Ever get the funny feeling that somehow this book became true?
Good Old, Ernie by Jerry J. Mallett, ill. Marian R. Bartch
If you’ll recall, this was the book that stumped me for years. My fourth or fifth grade teacher read chapters to my class and one of them involved raising and killing a turkey for Thanksgiving. Do I even need to tell you that things do not go precisely according to plan?
I do not.
The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket, ill. Lisa Brown
Looking at that open little mouth, I’ve always wondered: What is the sound of one latke screaming? If someone could be so good as to adapt this into a stage play format, I’d be awfully grateful.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Narrowly edging out Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas and A Small Miracle by Peter Collington (which I once called The Weirdest Holiday Picture Book of All Time). My sole regret with this book is that Ms. Robinson died before I could get her to write a story for Funny Girl. By the way – did they ever clean this book up or do the Herdmans still smoke in it? I hope they do.
Kevin’s Kwanzaa by Lisa Bullard, ill. Constanza Basaluzzo
Kwanzaa children’s books were published mostly in the 90s and early 2000s. Then the number of them trickled to a stop. These days you’re lucky if you can find even one. But FORTUNATELY, once in a while a book will trek into this vast desert. Lerner produced this one. One of the few. The proud.
New Year’s Eve
There are no books for New Year’s Eve.
Okay, if you can find me a good one I’ll plug it in here. Otherwise, I’m out folks. As ever, list your own personal favorites.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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