Best Santa Claus Picture Books for 2009: Picture Book Tuesday

Auntie Claus, Home for the Holidays (Buy at Amazon)
by Elise Primavera
Paula Wiseman (Simon & Schuster)
Picture Book
Ages 4-8

In order to watch her niece, Sophie Kringle, dance as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the school play that is to be performed on Christmas eve, Auntie Claus, Santa's sister, decides to move the North Pole to New York. Complications arise.

The Night Before Christmas (Buy at Amazon)
Clement Moore
Illustrated by Rachel Isadora
Picture Book
Ages 4-8

Of course, there are a gazillion editions of The Night Before Christmas, but what I found striking about this was its African setting, done by Rachel Isadora. She retains Moore's original poem, but replaces the usual Victorian decor with an African home, African clothing and African gifts. Even Santa looks different, clad in animal-print pants, and with brown skin and white dreadlocks. The stuffed animals he delivers include an elephant, zebra and giraffe. Beautiful!

Santa's Stowaway (Buy at Amazon)
by Brandon Dorman
Picture Book
Ages 4-8

Being a stowaway on Santa's sleigh isn't exactly a new idea, but this book offers a slightly different twist, and kids are sure to enjoy it.

That's Good, That's Bad on Santa's Journey (Buy at Amazon)
by Margery Cuyler
Illustrated by Michael Garland
Henry Holt
Picture Book
Ages 4-8

Cuyler's series on That's Good! That's Bad! has always been great fun, and so giving Santa himself very good, and very bad, experiences seems a logical extension to the series. As always after each mishap or lucky break, the refrain of the title, or its reverse, helps readers see how positive-seeming events can go bad, and problems can often have unexpectedly good consequences. Expect lots of slapstick humor!

When my kids were growing up, we always read The Night Before Christmas some time during the holiday season, and left cookies and milk out for Santa on Christmas eve ... It wasn't terribly original, but it was fun for the kids. On Christmas morning, they always marveled about the presents Santa had left, but also that Santa had taken time to eat the cookies. It was almost as if they were a more solid proof that Santa had been there.

Do you have any family traditions regarding Santa, or reading books featuring Old Saint Nick?
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