Seasonal Picture Books: Tiny Reindeer & ’Twas the Night Before Christmas

Two wonderful Christmas picture books on the review docket today! Firstly, I’ll be taking a look at Chris Naylor-Ballesteros’s Tiny Reindeer, thanks to the kind folks at Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada; and secondly, I will be talking about a newly illustrated version of Clement C. Moore’s ’Twas the Night Before Christmas by P.J. Lynch, thanks to kind friends at Candlewick Press/Penguin Random House Canada. I hope you enjoy!

“Tiny Reindeer was just like any other reindeer, but with one big difference. He was very, very tiny. He wasn’t just smaller than the others, he felt different too. And never more so than at one particular time of year…Christmas time.” Author and illustrator Chris Naylor-Ballesteros, who you may recognize from the critically lauded picture books The Suitcase, returns to delight readers with the unexpected holiday gem that is Tiny Reindeer. Tiny Reindeer lives with Santa and the rest of the ”big, stamping, snorting reindeer” and wishes that he could do ”even just a tiny” job to help Santa and the rest of the reindeer herd around Christmas. Try as he might, Tiny struggles: sometimes he falls into the other reindeers’ water bowls, sometimes he gets stuck in the ”sticky tape when [trying] to wrap presents”, and other times he gets ”tangled in the reins and harnesses”. Santa commiserates with Tiny and kindly suggests that he might try to help in the mail room by sorting letters children have sent to Santa. Tiny tries to follow Santa’s suggestion, but it does not go very well- piles upon piles of letters and a small reindeer make for a mess!. However, in the mess, Tiny spots and reads one letter to Santa and is immediately captivated. This is it! A child in possession of a beloved small wooden sleigh, crafted and gifted by a grandfather, is only asking for one thing for Christmas: a tiny reindeer for their tiny red sleigh. Tiny decides to take a big, big leap and formulates a plan to make a Christmas wish come true- hopefully a plan that can be accomplished quietly and without upsetting or upsetting Santa. While I do not wish to spoil exactly what happens on Tiny’s grand adventure, I will say that it is joyful and tender. Naylor-Ballesteros’ storytelling and artwork is wonderfully appealing in its winter scenes, and so engaging in how it portrays Santa and Tiny Reindeer as caring and considerate characters. Tiny Reindeer himself is completely adorable and utterly funny in his various expressions, and will likely have readers dreaming and wishing for a special tiny reindeer (and tiny sleigh!) of their very own.

“…When what to my wondering eyes did appear,/But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,/With a little old driver so lively and quick,/I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick..” An evergreen holiday classic, Clement C. Moore’s ’Twas the Night Before Christmas returns with a new picture book edition illustrated by two-time Kate Greenaway medallist P.J. Lynch. With a decidedly old-world, classical feel, P.J. Lynch’s artwork is a brilliant match for Moore’s beloved holiday poem. Rich with the deep colours of a snowy winter night; illuminated by candlelight and lantern glow; as well as bursts of the softer candy apple reds of St. Nicholas; Lynch’s illustrations are quite breathtaking. Readers who would love to revisit a childhood/family holiday favourite or for readers who would perhaps like to explore and share Clement C. Moore’s classic for the first time, this picture book edition has all the makings of a perfect holiday read aloud. I remember having my own children’s version of Clement C. Moore’s classic growing up (sadly, I cannot recall the illustrator), but I recall how I read and reread until I had just about the entirety of the poem memorized. I remember not only simply loving the poem and how pleasing the rhymes were, but also wanting to surprise my mom and dad with the poem! It has been a joy to revisit ’Twas the Night Before Christmas each and every year, and I must say that I have been especially taken in this deeply comforting and warmly illustrated version. I have now had the pleasure of sharing this P.J. Lynch edition of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas with our seven year-old and she has been absolutely captivated by both the poem and the masterful illustrations (and all of the lovely details!). Bonus: If you have the chance to, peak under the book jacket flap for a beautiful and sweet surprise of an illustration.

I received a copy of Tiny Reindeer courtesy of Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada and I received a copy of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas courtesy of Candlewick Press/Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Titles have been published and are currently available.

Author: michelle@fabbookreviews

Reference & Children's Librarian. Reader. Reviewer.

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