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Gift of a Good Book

Clover loves bringing the best of the best to young readers. This December her “Gift of a Good Book” theme shines as bright as a star, dazzling us with stories by stellar author/ illustrators who delight with their expertise, humor and ingenuity.

Kids will joy in the antics of a trickster determined to command Santa’s sleigh; lap up the mirth in a silly take on Santa visits; and be transfixed by the wonderous tale of a Christmas saved by a special little girl.

It’s Clover’s hope these wholly creative books will help you celebrate a holiday season that’s as warm and wonderful as each of you. Page On! Enjoy!

The Community Literacy Foundation, in partnership with Neighborhood Reads and with support from its sponsors, provides these books to 40 school and public libraries in Washington, Union, Pacific, St. Clair and surrounding communities. Learn more at

Youngest Read

For 20 years, readers have welcomed “the Pigeon” into their homes and hearts, starting with “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus,” written and illustrated by Mo Willems in 2003.

The wild bird returns this holiday season in “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Sleigh,” a treat as seasonal as a plate of cookies with sprinkles.

Santa should have known better than to leave his sleigh at the ready—but the man in red was called away, leaving a note asking Pigeon watch over things. As we see Santa disappear off one page, we see Pigeon, in shock, looking on. One can imagine the fowl thoughts in his bird brain.

Pigeon has a plan, turns on the yuletide charm by addressing readers via a series of word bubbles: “Oh, Hello. Happy Holidays! Season’s greetings! Festive feathers & peaceful plumage! Jingle Bells.”

This festive buttering up is motive-driven, “Can I drive the sleigh!?” Pigeon asks, then begs, using every trick in the book to convince readers of his ability to pull off Christmas with a bang: “I can do Santa stuff. How hard can it be? I can wrap presents! And deliver them.”

Pigeon’s attempts to cajole readers into letting him go sleigh-side grow increasingly frantic, with high-jinks certain to illicit giggles, until a shocking twist puts Pigeon’s heart’s desire to rest.

Willems doesn’t rein it in on his newest—a title that’s sure to become a Christmas classic.

Middle Read

No doubt every child has wondered the same thing as they try and keep their peepers open until Santa comes to call: “How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney” is a question with no easy answers. It’s also the title and subject of a new book by Mac Barnett, a gift of an author who has partnered with clever illustrator Jon Klassen to write a number of beloved Book Buddy Picks.

This rib-tickling book begins with three questions: “How does he do it? How does it work? Does he cinch up his belt?” As a reindeer looks on holding Santa’s jacket, a forlorn Santa stands on a snowy roof, his waist reduced by inches, his signature black belt pulled in, giving him an hourglass figure.

That ploy might help Santa manage his tight squeeze, but he also could magically shrink himself to the size of a mouse. Passage would be easy then.

Other questions arise regarding Santa’s trip down the chimney—like how does he descend, head or feed first? And if he gets stuck, does he “… need one of the reindeer to give him a kick.” Let’s hope not!

And what does Santa do about his messy, sooty suit—and how in the world does Santa deliver gifts when there isn’t a chimney to even go down?

All these important Christmas questions and more are contemplated in a charmer that’s long on nonsensical antics. While the tale doesn’t offer any easy answers, it spells pure fun, and would be a real honey to read on Christmas Eve.

Oldest Read

It’s hard to imagine life without Christmas, but that’s the horror that plays out in “Juniper’s Christmas” a read that’s rollicking good fun wrapped up in a meaningful message of hope by Eoin Colfer, of “Artemis Fowl” fame.

The skinny on the situation about the jolly ol’ elf occurs when Nicolas, a wonderful Santa in his day, throws in his black bag. After 40 years of delivering gifts on Christmas Eve, Nicolas is flat burned out. His final choice to opt out of Santa-dom occurs when his beloved wife Sarika dies.

It’s been eight long years since Christmas has been celebrated. In fact, little Juniper Lane has never had Santa call at her house. Juniper only has one parent. Her dad Briar died, a blow to Juniper and her mom June. Briar was wonderful man, the Keeper of Cedar Park and its residents.

When Christmas became obsolete, Briar came up with the idea of having a Santa Vigil, a celebration in which the townspeople could donate gifts on December 18, Red Letter Day, the last day children can write letters to Santa.

Juniper approaches Red Letter Day with optimism. Her mom seems like herself again, finally accepting that her husband Briar has passed. Juniper notices the change and is filled with joy, an emotion that is short-lived when her mother goes out to run an errand and doesn’t come home.

So begins a series of quirky happenings played out by a cast led by Juniper, her dear adult friend Duchess and a strange, good-hearted gent named Niko who helps out at the park, assisting the homeless.

“Juniper’s Christmas” is as wild a ride as any reader has experienced—though this inventive tale may seem off track at times, hang onto your Santa hats, the story arcs come together at the end of this ho-ho-ho-honey, already a bestseller across the land.

Written by Chris Stuckenschneider. Copyright 2023, Community Literacy Foundation.

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