Seasonal Picture Books: Santa Jaws, How to Catch a Gingerbread Man & more!

Three seasonal, just-right-for-Christmas picture books on the review docket today, thanks to the kind folks at Raincoast Books! I will taking a look at the following delightful and fun reads: Santa Jaws by Bridget Heos, illustrated by Galia Bernstein; How to Catch a Gingerbread Man by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton; and ’Twas the Night Before Christmas in Canada illustrated by Jo Parry, adapted from the poem by Clement C. Moore. Happy reading to you all!

“While kids write notes to Santa Claus/Sharks line up for Santa Jaws./They tell him all their Christmas wishes./Santa thinks they sound delicious!.” A romp of a rhyming story- with arguably one of the coolest, cheekiest Jaws inspired covers ever!- author Bridget Heos and illustrator Galia Bernstein take readers on an underwater Christmas adventure with Santa Jaws. If you have ever wondered if and how sharks might celebrate Christmas and if they have their own Santa (spoiler: they do!), then Santa Jaws has it all covered! In Santa Jaws, readers get to learn about all the traditions that sharks embark on to prepare for Christmas: lining up for Santa Jaws as well as decorating kelp trees with ”chewy wreaths [and] crunchy lights”. Santa Jaws is a cheeky, jolly shark; a red hat-wearing, list-checking, overseer of all underwater gift-giving, who commandeers a ”merry sled” (an abandoned, slight worse for wear, wooden ship) that is ”pulled by hungry hammerheads”. (We also learn that dear Santa Jaws cannot help but test ”the toys- just a bite” upon delivery!). A clever, snappy take on a Santa legend that borrows commonly understood Christmas traditions and turns it perfectly to fit in with the world of sharks, Santa Jaws is great fun- wonderfully propelled by Heos’ concise rhymes and playful word choice, and Bernstein’s bright and truly jolly illustrations. Readers who simply can’t get enough books about sharks, those who love a good rhyming story, or those who are simply looking for a unique take on a Christmas/Santa read, then Santa Jaws is a terrific pick. Back matter includes an illustrated glossary of the eight sharks featured in the story. (If you can, be sure to check out the awesome- and adorable!- Santa hat endpapers!).

A seasonal entry in the popular and bestselling How to Catch series by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton. Unpretentious, goofy, and all-around fun, How to Catch a Gingerbread Man is great rhyming, silly story time fun. Opening on a scene of kids making their way to a ”story time at the bookstore down the street”, the group of young friends is in for a real surprise when a story starring our narrator- the Gingerbread Man!- begins, and at the words of ”run, run, as fast as you can”, Gingerbread Man “[pops], right off the page and [breaks] away with speed!”. In a series of attempts to catch the clever and quick Gingerbread Man, readers watch as kids set up various traps and tricks to get the Gingerbread Man…all the while snatching glimpses of characters from fairytales and other well-known stories (Note: I would argue to change the ‘Frogdarts’ illustrated nod to a more current children’s series and something… less rife with intense problems). My seven year old is familiar with a number of the How to Catch… books as they are popular in her school library, and we also check them out from our local library branch! So, as you might imagine, she was absolutely thrilled to see this seasonal one- and it’s been a hit for our nighttime reading!.

A twist on the ever-popular and beloved classic ’Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, ’Twas the Night Before Christmas in Canada, with illustrations by Jo Parry, is a cozy and sweet take on the original version. The story opens on a scene of Santa ”busy planning his Christmas Eve journey across his favourite place…Canada!”, traveling all the way ”from Montréal to Winnipeg, from Edmonton to Halifax”. Readers learn that ”Santa can’t wait to visit all the children on his Nice List” and with his ”sleigh high” and packed ”full of gifts”, Santa gets ready to go on a big across-the-country adventure! Packed with charming Christmas and winter details, with adorable outdoor snowy scenes as well as snug inside-the-home scenes, the picture book also highlights of a selection of some of Canada’s well-known and/or iconic landmarks- all the while telling the story in a gently modified version of Clement C. Moore’s classic poem. For an adorable Christmas read, absolutely chock-full of Christmas details in the illustrations (including loving nods to Canada), ’Twas the Night Before Christmas in Canada is a lively and winning read aloud treat. (Try pairing with an illustrated version of the original for even more wintry adventures! And for readers looking for other city or country-specific adaptations, Jo Parry has illustrated a great number of them!).

I received copies of these titles courtesy of Raincoast Books 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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