Fiction Picture Books for the Holidays

There are so many wonderful reasons to gift books for the holidays. Picture book gifts come with a bonus: they are meant to be shared. Whether its a quiet story before bedtime or a raucous adventure with dinosaurs, the experience creates joy for everyone involved. 
This selection of Cybils finalists are sure to be read (and shared!) over and over and over again.

Maple by Lori Nichols – A great gift for families with a new baby. Maple loves her name and she loves the tree that her parents planted when she was born; it’s the perfect friend as they grow together through the seasons. In the spring, a new tree and a new baby arrive and, after a little adjustment, the siblings look forward to sharing their trees together. The simple text and lovely illustrations, from the tree itself to the leaf rubbings and prints in the backgrounds, delightfully capture the joy of the seasons and the excitement and adjustment of a new baby. Simple is best in this heartfelt and lovely story, perfect for encouraging a child to enjoy nature or look forward to a new baby.(Blurb author: Jennifer Wharton, Jean Little Library)

Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton – A Great gift for bedtime with children ages 3 to 6. Chris Haughton’s Shh! We Have A Plan, is a hilarious tale of four hapless friends who set out to catch a bird. Despite having minimal text, it is a joy to read aloud. The small font encourages whispering, and the short, repeated phrases are accessible to even the youngest of listeners. With its muted colors and quiet text, Shh! We Have A Plan would make a wonderful bedtime book for preschoolers and kindergarteners. (Blurb author: Jen Robinson, Jen Robinson’s Book Page)

This Is a Moose by Richard T. Morris, illustrated by Tom Licthenheld – A great gift for tickling the funny bone of kids 6 to 9, as well as children who love dramatic arts. A movie director struggles to capture a documentary about the mighty moose. But woodland creatures keep getting in his way, acting quite unlike proper animals. With laugh-out-loud hilarious movie outtakes, author Richard T. Morris teams up with illustrator Tom Lichtenheld to bring us unforgettable characters and their antics on the movie set.  Kid appeal runs high and brings storytime to a new dramatic level. The original concept paired with the detailed cartoon sketches Lichtenheld is known for, bring an unexpected surprise that pushes silliness to its extreme. (Blurb author: Carrie Charley Brown, Carrie On… Together)

Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Kevin Cornell – A great gift for preschoolers and kindergarteners who are learning to count. Looking at the troop of monkeys on this cover, young readers may be in for a bit of a surprise as they begin to turn the pages. Where did all the monkeys go? No need to fret, though, for each page brings a new (and increasingly ridiculous) possible factor in their disappearance.  Expect a rowdy story time experience with this hilarious, unique addition to the counting book genre. (Blurb author: Dawn Mooney, Five Minutes for Books)

Journey by Aaron Becker – A great gift for young adventurers with big imaginations. With a subtle nod to Harold and his purple crayon, a bored young girl draws herself a door into a magical world using a red crayon she finds on her bedroom floor. Lush and detailed double page spreads draw the reader into the imaginary world, while well placed panels of action sequences along with picture clues lead the reader through this wordless adventure.  Like the magic in the story, additional details seem to suddenly appear on re-reads, rewarding readers who are sure to take the Journey again and again. (Blurb author: Laura Given, LibLaura)

The Bear’s Song by Benjamin Chaud – A great gift for young readers who like “I Spy” or “Where’s Waldo”. First sight of this book hints at its uniqueness with the large format bathed in deep colors and intricate illustrations. The Bear’s Song by Benjamin Chaud is a gorgeous French import with spare narrative text and humorously packed illustrations that have an almost Where’s Waldo? characteristic in a more sophisticated flair. Chaud’s lightly clever narration follows Papa Bear as he attempts to track down his bee-following Little Bear through forest and city, busy streets and bustling opera house; until a final hilariously misunderstood, climactic performance by Papa Bear clears the stage for an endearingly cuddle-worthy ending.  The Bear’s Song begs for rereads; moves with powerful, yet lilting pacing; and invites lingering over each scene to relish the many added details as well as help spy on the trail of that adventurous little bear. (Blurb author: Caryn Schafer, Three Books a Night)

Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty  – A great gift for young children who love art, drawing, and imaginary monsters; great for older children as a metaphor about how we create our own monsters. One day, Jeremy–who never goes out–uses his special crayon to draw a monster. He draws like mad to satisfy the demanding beast, but only finds peace when he sends the beast on its way.  Simply told and creatively illustrated, this book wraps itself around the deeper meaning within–that we draw our own monsters, and neither feeding nor ignoring them will make them go away. Brilliant. (Blurb author: Pam Coughlan, MotherReader)

Sick Day for Amos McGee, A by Philip Christian Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead – A great gift for children who love animals and quiet stories. Amos McGee is a doting zookeeper who finds the tables turned when he catches cold and his animals come over for a visit. With simple text and gloriously hand-made block print and pencil illustrations, A Sick Day for Amos McGee is timeless tale of compassion and friendship that will endear itself to readers for many years to come. (Blurb author: Travis Jonker, 100 Scope Notes)

— Terry Doherty