Book review: Two holiday treats for youngsters

When looking to add a few new tales to the collection of holiday classics, consider these delightful books for kiddos of varying ages:

Small children will love the holiday fun in guessing what lies beneath the flap of each holiday-themed riddle in What Am I? Christmas by Anne Margaret Lewis and colorfully illustrated by Tom Mills (Albert Whitman & Company, $9.99). In the book, a few hints are given, a small sliver of the answer illustration shown, and the question of "What am I? What could I be?" then children lift the flap to see.

The fun begins with the Christmas tree and goes through all that even the youngest of kids associate with the holiday: a snowman, angel, wreath, reindeer and more. The very last—and favorite of all, of course—is Santa.

Although I read the book on my own for this review, without one of my grandsons at my side, I can just imagine Bubby's excitement correctly guessing what lies beneath each flap. I, myself, am excited to share it with him when he visits for Christmas.

What I loved about this book: The colorful, oversized graphics perfectly illustrate the delights of the season, especially for little ones. The repetition of "What am I? What could I be?" followed by lifting the flap is a fun interaction for the intended audience (ages 2-5) and those reading the story.

Older kids will likely adore The Christmas Pups by Teresa Bateman and illustrated by John Kanzler (Albert Whitman & Company, $16.99). The book is intended for ages 4-8, but having to wipe a tear myself upon reading it the first time, I'm pretty sure it will be appreciated by animal lovers of all ages.

The story is of Ruff, Tuff, and Penny—three dogs left in a cardboard box by the side of the road on a cold, rainy December night—and their wishes to be adopted as Christmas gifts for children. Thanks to kind strangers who found and delivered them to the local animal shelter, as well as input from Brownie, an older dog and long-term resident of the shelter, they just might see their Christmas wishes come true.

What I loved about this book: The author doesn't shy away from the fact that puppies are indeed abandoned by folks and that it's not always easy for those poor souls to find a home, even if they're fortunate enough to end up at an animal shelter. The book drives home the joy of animal ownership and animal rescue in a compassionate manner without being heavy-handed. Plus, it's just a sweet Christmas story that warmed my heart.

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