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  • Writer's pictureKaeti V.

CHRISTMAS BOOK REVIEW: advent storybooks day 1

My family is celebrating advent throughout December and we’re counting down the days to Christmas with illustrated storybooks! I remember doing this many many years ago, on a particularly busy year event-wise for us … oh, the joys of juggling piano recitals, choir concerts, church events, and family traditions! It was such a soothing way to spend time together each evening, and I’m looking forward to doing it again.

We already own so many of the classics, so I chose to branch into some retold favorites, traditional tales, and new favorites. Some are secular, while some have a Christian message, but all these books have a beautiful warm feeling; I hope you’ll enjoy the books I’ll be reviewing here!

I also want to ask: do you have a favorite Christmas book to enjoy during this time of year?


One of my favorite non-traditional stories is Susan Cooper’s fantasy novel, The Dark is Rising! It’s the second book in a quintet of welsh-spun Arthurian legends, and takes place over the Christmas holiday. 11-year-old Will Stanton, the seventh son of a seventh son, discovers he is the last of the immortal Old Ones -- those destined to defend humanity against a faction known as The Dark. As Christmas nears and The Dark gains strength, Will must seek ancient signs and learn to command them in a last sacred battle against The Dark’s rise to power.

I was absolutely captivated by this book in high school; we owned four of the five books in an old box set and it was sort of magical stumbling upon them in our library! The Story turns at a quick pace, never losing steam as it roars towards what feels like a foretold conclusion. Will is a genuinely caring and fun protagonist, and I love to see him interacting with his siblings. Another detail to treasure is how contemporary the story feels; it really is a window into the Welsh lifestyle from the 70s/80s. (I know there is a movie adaptation from 2007, and I WILL NOT WATCH IT specifically because it's been modernized? No ???? THAT ATMOSPHERE WAS HALF THE FUN!!!)

Onwards to my extremely brief advent book review!

Day 01 – Bear Stays Up for Christmas – Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

A quick and charming read about forest animals celebrating Christmas together! Bear, who hibernates, struggles to stay awake while his friends prepare a special celebration … as the night goes on and his friends fall asleep, bear surprises everyone with his own special Christmas gifts!

I love Chapman’s illustrations so much … she draws all the animals with such expressive personality, and that really captures the warm feeling of spending time together with loved ones -- just the kind of coziness you can enjoy to remind yourself winter doesn't have to be bleak!

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