Saint Nicholas the Giftgiver and other Christmas Books for Children (and a few for older readers.) 20% OFF (while supplies last.)

We’re glad for those who ordered Advent devotional books — a few weeks ago we listed some that could be used in studies with weekly sessions for small groups or classes, some that could be used daily, and some that are congenial for families to use together in home devotions. When our kids were little, we weren’t committed to family devotions year round, but when our three were young, we loved the Advent wreath, lighting candles (read: playing with fire) and cultivating a sense of anticipation. So those books are useful.

I’d like to share a couple of nice children’s books to read closer to the holiday (which is 12 Days, you know, starting after Advent, with the first day of Christmas being December 25th. Only one day of Christmas makes about as much sense as one day of Hanukkah, you know.) So here are some Christmas children’s books you can use for weeks to come, just for fun.

All of these are offered at our typical 20% discount for these items we feature here at BookNotes. Of course we have so much more at the shop so don’t hesitate to ask questions at the “inquiry” tab at our website or call us. We’re here 10 – 6, Monday through Saturday. Of course, you can use the “ORDER” tab at our website which is secure for credit cards. Just click on the “order” link at the end of this column which takes you to our Hearts & Minds website.

We, like everyone, are facing supply chain issues and some of our vendors and suppliers are hampered and delayed. We’ll try to be clear about what you can expect, item by item, when you inquire or order. Thanks for working with us to navigate these complicated issues.


First though, here are a two more Advent devotionals that arrived here at the store — one from a friend in the UK — after we did that last adult Advent list, so we wanted to name these here. They can take their place next to Advent in Plain Sight, Christ in the Manger by Bonhoeffer, the Plough collection Wait for the Light, and all the others we listed before, such as the remarkable best-seller, Honest Advent by Scott Erickson, and, of course, Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge.) They, too, are all 20% off.

Celebrating Christmas: Embracing Joy Through Art and Reflections Amy Boucher Bye with illustrations by Leo Boucher (BRF) $25.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $20.79

We just got this in from the UK and we’re so glad. The publisher, BRF, by the way, is the internationally known Bible Reading Fellowship, a British-based nonprofit, who invited Amy to offer the good reflections inspired by original art by Mr. Leo Boucher, her father.

Amy is a spiritual director and author of the lovely, accessible, inspiring, 7 Ways to Pray (that I reviewed here.) This book is a handsome hardback, small enough to send through the mail or wrap as a small gift, it has full color paintings and glossy, quality paper. It isn’t lavish like a baroque art collection or a big coffee table book; in a way, even though the art is wonderful, it is simple, fine work from a wordsmith and a visual artist. It’s very good. In the words of one broadcaster, the two contributors of Celebrating Christmas: Embracing Joy… “combine seamlessly to create a celebration of the warmth, love, promise and glory of Christ’s birth on earth, and what that means for us today.” There are helpful questions at the back to facilitate your own meditation or conversation around the images and reflections.

The Advent Project: A Challenge to Journal, Reflect, and Celebrate Christ’s Birth (Zondervan) $14.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $11.99

Again, this is a very handsome product, beautiful on the outside the lightly textured hardback cover, and nice on the inside with attractive graphics (including hints of water-colored candles, wreaths and the like) in the classy design on the interior. There are brief devotions and simple thoughts, but the feature of this that you might like most is the daily thoughtful prompts for journaling and reflection. This can be used as a journal — use the lines and spaces to enter your own ruminations about the reason for the season, as they say. The Advent Project offers 31 days of brief writings, reflection prompts, and inviting questions.


God With Us: A Manna and Mercy Christmas Board Book Daniel Erlander & Mary Lindberg (Augsburg Fortress Press) $7.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $6.39

Perhaps you know the stunning, hand drawn, hand-written large size overview of the Bible, Manna and Mercy. It’s like a seriously cartoony introduction to the Bible with footnotes from Walter Brueggemann and others with a deeply Biblical prophetic imagination. It’s remarkable.

This is a simplified, colorful, excerpt of the Christmas portion of Manna and Mercy and the wording — the people crying and God crying with them, the trees clapping their hands, the good news of God being with and for us in Christ — is all so very solid. Yet it sounds a bit fresh, simple, allusive, different from the telling of any other Christmas children’s board book we know. Wow.

The Christmas Promise Alison Mitchell with illustrations by Catalina Echeverri (The Good Book Company)                                        board book $9.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $7.99  regular hardback book $14.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $11.99

I have raved about this whole”Tales That Tell the Truth” series of full sized children’s picture books; they hint at the Christ-centered, creation-restoring, Kingdom-coming, gritty Biblical vision that makes these Bible stories more than mere moralism (like “dare to be a Daniel” as if the story is about courage, not God’s redemptive presence — the one in this series on the narrative from Daniel is called Jesus and the Lion’s Den!) One excellent one is about racial reconciliation and social diversity in the redeemed new earth (God’s Very Good Idea); one is about raising Lazarus and how that points to Jesus’s own resurrection, one is called Garden, the Curtain, The Cross. You get the picture. Well, the Christmas one places the coming of Jesus in this broad historically redemptive flow of the Bible story and in simple, sweet ways, shows that this baby is coming to rule (and heal) the world. It’s a brief telling, without being overly wordy or heady, with vivid, almost bizarre, high-quality illustration. And this one is the board book version, smaller, shorter, sweeter. I like it and hope your little ones will too, as it reminds us that Jesus is the fulfillment of a promise and a King. Nice.

I Can Count to Christmas: An Interactive Number Story (B+H Kids) $7.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $6.39

This is a fun little board book, chunky and colorful. It rhymes, and the point is the numbers that are almost die-cut, so little fingers can trace the tracks to learn the shape of the numbers. Is this how kids learn to count and to write their numbers? Maybe so. It is tactile and engaging.

For what it is worth, to keep this agenda going, the story has to be switched around a bit, which could be a little odd for some — for instance, the first page is “1 Baby Sent from Above” and “2 Parents Welcome Him with Love.” But then, it’s “3 Wise Men See the Brightest Star” and “4 Camels Must Travel Far.” That the Wise Men scene occurs later in the Bible may perplex some, but it does say they saw the star, so maybe that fits. And 4 camels? And then there’s “5 Houses in the Sleepy Town.” And so on. The tenth spread is “10 Angels” but why do they look like little children?  I think it may not be worth asking these questions, or maybe it will lead to goo conversations in between the little fingers tracing the lines, but I’m warning you. It is too cute.

The Jesus Storybook Bible: A Christmas Collection: Stories, Songs, and Reflections for the Advent Season inspired by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago, narrated by David Suchet (Zonderkidz) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

We announced this last year and the publisher ran out, unable to make more in time for the season. A number of our customers loved it, and we’re happy to share it again. Here is some of what we said last year:

Oh my goodness…we are so excited to tell you about this. It will be the lead title when we do another BookNotes post soon that features nice books to give to children this holiday season…

The Jesus Storybook Bible: A Christmas Collection: Stories, Songs, and Reflections for the Advent Season is one of those great books that is oversized and handsome and has a battery/computer gadget thingie that speaks or plays music when a child presses the button.  There is narration, and there are excerpts of four Christmas carols that fit well into the appropriate pages. Kids love these interactive books and we are so happy about this. That it spreads out widely in the lap is great, too. Kudos, Zonderkidz!

They say this is for ages 4 – 8 but I can imagine a slightly older kid reading it herself. And a slightly younger one could press the buttons and smile at the music, so I’m going to suggest this, being a bit optimistic, for ages 3 – 10.

There are key moments to “press the button” throughout and it will bring hours of pleasure and spiritual formation for children and families using this very cool new product. We’re excited. And the Jago art (as you know from the Jesus Storybook Bible) is cool, whimsical without being silly or sentimental.

You should know that we adore the Jesus Storybook Bible and while there are other children’s story Bibles that we like a lot, we are especially fond of the creative art and excellent writing of this one. And the framework and theological perspective — “Every Story Whispers His Name” — shows the interconnectedness of the Bible stories that unfold and point to the promises fulfilled in Christ. It’s really good. And Advent is the perfect time to plumb those obvious interconnections.

This new edition has new content that is explicitly Advent themed.  Highly recommended.

Jesus Came for Me Jared Kennedy, illustrated by Trish Mahoney (New Growth Press) $11.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $9.59

This one takes some explaining, too, and you might want to know it is simple, contemporary looking, vivid, yet text heavy. As board books go, this is larger than most, allowing for the fairly complex sentences and even more complex notions. That it starts with Zachariah being mute reminds me of how weird the Bible is — thanks be to God!  — and how complicated it is to teach this stuff to toddlers. God bless this team for trying. And, yep, they handle Herod’s “sneaky lie” and plot to kill Jesus in a clear, no-nonsense way. I myself don’t like the overly individualized piety of the title (Jesus came for the whole creation the Bible insists), but this good book really does explain the whole Christmas narrative in simple ways without glossing over some important details. It is part of a series of such books called the “Beginner’s Gospel Story Book.” We will be eager to hear how parents use it in their family holiday times.

Goodnight, Manger Laura Sassi, illustrated by Jane Chapman (Zonderkidz) $9.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $7.99

Beth has declared this one of her favorite Christmas board books and I sure see why — it is whimsical with great art by Jane Chapman, and yet it is heartfelt and tender, sensible to a new mom, I think. How can baby Jesus sleep when the stable was so loud? As it says on the back, “Between the itchy hay, angels singing, and three kings knocking — Mama still finds a way for everyone to work together to shephard Baby into peaceful dreams under the twinkling stars.”

The artwork is well done, cute without being comically goofy or maudlin. That Mary’s hair is dark and a bit stringy is perfect. (And the orange wash of the inside walls with chickens under foot gives it almost a Central American/Mexicali feel.) The whooshing glory of the angels singing is shown as colorfully and creatively as any book we’ve seen — the mostly dark skinned, colorfully robed people are singing and dancing even as one plays violin and another an accordion!  And wait till the sheep and rams go crazy, when they, too, see the star. And when the kings come with their royal pomp, the text says, “Mama’s frantic, in a tizzy. Who knew stables were so busy?”

The color and energy and lovely picture of the little baby Jesus yawning is great. No theological message here, exactly, except the reminder that this was one heck of a night for a newborn. Maybe it does have profundity. Just read Philippians 2.

Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story Sally Lloyd-Jones Paintings by Alison Jay (Zonderkidz) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

I have reviewed this often these last few years and love its simple, poetic cadence, its solid truth that the whole creation is eager to see what this Messiah Baby is about. You know Sally Lloyd-Jones from the remarkable Jesus Storybook Bible and innovative devotionals Songs to Make Your Heart Sing. Alison Jay is an excellent artist and her renderings are evocative of Americana folk art. I love these artful, moving pictures. This can make me tear up and I highly recommend the full picture book (there was a board board edition that we might be able to get, this year, which somehow doesn’t capture the poignant, simple beauty of these renderings of the long of creation.) I love the last line: “Heaven’s Son, sleeping under the stars that he made.”

The Nativity  Illustrated by Julie Vivas (Voyager Books) $7.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $6.39

I am not alone in declaring this one of the most amazing children’s picture books of the Christmas story we know. First released in the mid-1980s, year after year, folks discover this and are amazed by the vividness, the humor, the humanity.  (And, like clockwork, some complain. Yes, there is a full spread picture of the new, naked, baby Jesus, penis and all. Take it up with God if you don’t like that, since, well, that’s how it is.)

There are other things that are jarring that folks either love or hate. Mary is very pregnant and over the years that has become less bothersome to those who found it a bit too sensual (thank goodness.) The angels have these huge freaking wings, like the dragons on the cover of some graphic fantasy novel or some old Yes album cover. That one of them, a spiky-haired Gabriel, is wearing army boots just seals the deal for those who know the Hebrew meaning of “Lord of Hosts” (which Eugene Peterson in The Message rendered “Lord of the Angel Armies.”) But these army-booted wild angels are wide-eyed and eager to help, even if a bit — as most everybody in the story is — a bit clueless. There is wonder, amazement, and awe among these humble peasants and assorted servants at play in the fields of the Lord.

Apropos of not much, there’s one scene when one of the peasant gang is scolding a sheep for following, shooing it the other way, and it puts its head down like a puppy. It makes me smile every time, that somebody was trying to keep the new baby safe. And then there’s the scene — I missed it at first — of an angel riding a sheep. Ha! The people have a Middle Eastern or South American look, or somehow Semitic, so much so that the New York Times called it “A people’s Nativity.”

Santa’s Favorite Story: Santa Tells the Story of the First Christmas Hisako Aoki, illustrated by Ivan Gantschev (Simon & Schuster) $9.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $7.99

I will never forget when we first discovered this, decades ago, as a European import, before the big US publisher picked it up. The Japanese storyteller, the Bulgarian-born, German artist, the unusual brown-toned art, the clever way Santa tells the story of the nativity. What a great idea, having Santa himself saying, “Christmas is not about me, it’s about this other story.” For most American children raised to believe in Santa Claus, it is helpful, I think, to have him, on his own jolly authority, say it isn’t really about it.

It does get a Biblical detail wrong — it has the shepherds following the star to Bethlehem, which is a frustrating gloss. It doesn’t theologize about the birth of the baby, just announces that he brings God’s love. And then Santa gathers his animal helpers and gets his job done to give a happy ending for all.

I’m sure this will delight some, perplex a few, and create great conversations for those who use books not only for enjoyment, but for nurturing curiosity and probing questions.


Saint Nicholas the Giftgiver Ned Bustard (IVP Kids) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

I have been waiting for this book for nearly a year, knowing that our dear friend, who we admire so much, was doing this first book in the new IVP Kids line. So it’s notable, historic, even. And, we are always very glad for a new book about Nicolas. You hopefully know that Saint Nick was a real saint, a theologian (who, famously — it’s so funny, it ought to be famous — got into a fistfight about the fully divine nature of Christ at the Council of Nicaea) and a follower of Jesus who served the poor. Our custom of sending valentines, it is said, started with him as he sent kind notes to the incarcerated, reminding them that they are loved. He was one radical Christian.

I generally like Ned’s art, too. He does modern day linocuts that seem like what some call woodcuts. They are often laden with symbols — you may have seen his incredible design work and linocuts in the two Every Moment Holy prayer books. Not to digress too much, but he also has done a number of indie press kids books and illustrated serious classical educational curriculum. He did the very colorful illustrations in the popular Crossway titles, Church History ABCs, Reformation ABCs and Bible History ABCs. Yet another style of art is seen in the amazing book co-done with poet Luci Shaw, another brand new IVP Kids release, The O in Hope. More on that anon.

Saint Nicholas the Giftgiver is amazing on several fronts, and I do not have time or space to describe it in detail. Just know these four reasons why you should consider it for kids as young as 4 or 5 and as old as, maybe 8 or 9. Or, kids of all ages!

Firstly, it is colorful and fun, artfully fresh with his colorized hand carved block prints. This process of creation take a huge amount of effort and skill and each piece is a remarkable work of art itself. (You can see a few moments of him doing this art work in this video describing the book — it’s splendid to watch him work!) This is not just another kid’s book typically illustrated, it is imaginatively created, rich, even if full of whimsy.

Secondly, it is, indeed, full of whimsy. It reads in the cadence of “The Night Before Christmas” and tricky as that may be, making words rhyme and fit the meter, it mostly works. So that’s clever and entertaining. And it uses playful words — yep, as Nicholas got older, he had a belly that shook like jelly. Is upbeat and silly, even. (In some serious endnotes for parents, where he mentions some other legends about Nicholas, how he even helped mice, and, yep, a little picture of a mouse scurries along there by the scholarly footnotes.)

Thirdly, it does cover some of the important facts about Nicholas born in Turkey in March of 270. It isn’t a major treatise and there are a few other children’s books that tell other aspects of this famous early Christian. But it is informative and educational. With the ongoing rhyme he says that he settled in the seaside town of Myra, disagreed with Arius, helped the poor, even performed miracles for others, etcetera, etcetera. Bustard continues the sing-song, saying that “Nick cared for the church, serving as their bishop: he shared with God’s people both the Word and the Cup. And in thanks for grace from God the Almighty, he gave gifts to the weak, the sick and the needy.” Dare I say it is edifying?

Fourthly — and this is a bit controversial, but I hope it doesn’t stop you from buying it — in the last small portion, the story swerves to the modern Santa with his sleigh and reindeer.  He reports that,  “Some people say…” which is a good touch. Yes, the book is about the virtue of service, the grace of giving, the goodness of sacrifice, as embodied in a real Bishop of the early church. In small print in the afterword he notes James 1:17, reminding us that every good gift comes from above. But some (especially Orthodox believers, I might think) will not appreciate the segue into the icon of American consumerism, the subtle shift from teaching the value of giving to conceding the habit of getting. I would have been happy if it did not make that far-fetched connection, but it is the standard telling, that our contemporary Claus — Jolly old Saint Nick, you know — has some circuitous connection to the Bishop who, as Nicholas the GIftgiver puts it, “died in three hundred forty-three, on December the sixth… well loved and godly.”

Consider, also, that Ned recently released (through his own small press, Square Halo Books) a paperback book called The Art of J.R.R. Tolkien. He loves the imaginative, playful, child-like stuff of legends, of lore, of magic. Tolkien, you know, did a book himself called Letters from Father Christmas. So if Ned wants to bring together in a fully festive way the great Saint and the modern myth, we should be glad for the good gift. Enjoy it, folks. Enjoy!

The Night of His Birth Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Lisa Aisato (Flyaway Books) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

I hope you know the remarkable and highly awarded YA fiction writer Katherine Paterson, one of the most esteemed children’s fiction writers of the last 50 years. She was raised on the mission field in China (her parents were Presbyterian missionaries and her faith continues to shine in many of her best-selling books.) This one is a lovely, eloquent, elegant re-telling of the birth of Jesus, told tenderly through the view of Mary.

Sing out, my soul, the wonder . . .

Mary’s baby has arrived, and she can’t contain her joy! As Joseph sleeps, she examines her newborn’s tiny mouth, his wild hair, his little hands. Yet what’s most wondrous is that this child is not just Mary’s own but a gift that God has shared with everyone.

Poetic text by Newbery Medalist Katherine Paterson and striking images by Lisa Aisato reveal the intimacy of that unforgettable night long ago, when the mother of Jesus was the first to welcome him into a world he would change forever.

Carla and the Christmas Cornbread Carla Hall, illustrations by Cherise Harris (Simon & Schuster) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

What a fun and touching story, a delight for anyone — but I assume especially for black families wanting to see folks who look like them portrayed in a pretty typical, middle class-looking, home decked out for Christmas. The story tells of little Carla who loves being at her granny’s house on Christmas Eve but who (a bit of a spoiler alert) mistakenly eats the last cookie that was left out for Santa. What do to? Well, it involves some scrumptious cornbread (for which there is a classic recipe in the back. (There’s a nice spread of some soul food, too — the author has grown up to be a chef!) It all ends well, and the last page shows a black Santa, like the Christmas ornament your young readers might notice on the tree, munching on, well, you know.

I do wish they had gone to church Christmas Eve. Maybe they’ll got to a Watch Night service on New Year’s… we need a book about that!

Storyteller Carla Hall, by the way, grew up in Tennessee and is a graduate of Howard University and is now a trained chef and accomplished television personality. Artist Cherise Harris spent her childhood in Barbados.

Christina’s Carol: Featuring the Classic Christmas Carol “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Christina Rossetti Tomie dePaola (Simon & Schuster) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

It is hard not to get a bit choked up describing this; we have loved selling Tomie DePaola books over our nearly four decades, decades when his popularity was at its height. We have friends that met him, others who have been to retreat centers where he would sometime visit to pray. We have loved his folk tales, this funny sales, his Bible stories. His distinctive style has been much discussed in children’s literature circles and he is as esteemed as only a handful of our finest writers and illustrators. He was awarded  both the coveted Newberry and Caldecott Awards medals (the Caldecott in 1976 for Strega Nona and the Newberry in 2000 for 26 Fairmount Street.) In 2011 he was given what was then called the “Laura Ingalls Wilder Award” bit which is now known as the Children’s Literature Legacy Award. We could say more.

This book was what seems to be his last, incorporating previously used pictures from some of his other seasonal books and drawn from some of his last known paintings. While they say this is good for ages 4 – 8 I would say older children might appreciate the interesting, colorful art and many adults, of course, truly love the moody, somber, wintry song with its declaration of love for Christ.

Here is what Publisher’s Weekly wrote:

Based on the 1872 Christmas carol “In the Bleak Midwinter” by poet Rossetti, this illustrated edition combines previously published artwork and unseen art from the late dePaola’s personal collection. The artist’s trademark style brings charm to the classic poem, with photographed three-dimensional dioramas set alongside traditional illustrations rendered in vibrant washes of color. The book offers multiple depictions of characters and scenes; in one memorable spread, the Virgin Mary and Jesus are shown in four different styles surrounded by the text, “But only His mother/ In her maiden bliss// Worshipped the Beloved/ With a kiss.” DePaola fans will rejoice in having this lush, multilayered illustration of a classic hymn for their collection.

Joy to the World: Christmas Stories and Songs Tomie dePaola (Puffin) $12.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $10.39

What a bargain this nice sized paperback is. As they explain on the back cover, “This collection unifies three of the incomparable Tomie dePaola’s most beloved Christmas stories into one handsome volume. Vividly portrayed and expertly crafted, The Night of Las Posadas, The Story of the Three Wise Kings, and The Legend of the Poinsettia are sure to enchant and mesmerize the whole family during the holiday season.”

As the School Library Journal wrote years ago (in reviewing The Story of the Three Wise Kings) “dePaola’s illustrations are not simply pictures designed to expand the text: his illustrations are the text.”

Yes, some fancy-pants scholars note that he uses the influence of Byzantine and Romanesque art, which is true enough. But whatever his style and influences, he brings color and joy, expands our horizons, deepens our empathy for humans and — in many of his books — helps us delight in the goodness of the God of the Bible.


The Lion Classic Christmas Stories Mary Joslin, illustrated by Jane Ray (Lion Press) $16.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

This is a fabulous hardback, just thick enough to be a real “book” and not a kid’s picture book, but not to weighty. There are mature and artful illustrations by the always intriguing Jane Ray. There are twelve captivating stories that “reflect the spirit of Christmas – a gift to bring joy and to treasure.”

There are standard Bible stories here (the nativity according to Saint Luke and Saint Matthew) and some classics, like a telling of the “Nutcracker” story and and a telling of the classic “The Little Fir Tree.” There’s a nice story about Saint Nicholas. There is one chapter called “The Fourth Wise Man.” We get stories from all over the world, too – -“Little Piccola”, “Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden “ and “Babushka.” Others have fun titles that evoke folk intriguing tales such as “The Christmas Cuckoo”, “The Old Violin”, “Papa Panov”  We have a very limited supply of this; Lion Press is from the UK and we may not be able to get more. Order today while supplies last.

A Stubborn Sweetness and Other Stories for the Christmas Season Katherine Paterson (WJK) $20.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00

We have spoken, above, of our admiration for the great youth novelist Katherine Paterson. Over her illustrious career she has done two paperback collections of holiday-themed stories, and this draws from those two, and adds two new stories. (Those previous books, now out of print, were Angels and Other Strangers and A Midnight Clear, which I know many of our customers dearly loved.) Here is some of what the publisher says about this anthology:

A Stubborn Sweetness and Other Stories for the Christmas Season is a collection of modern-day short stories by Katherine Paterson, award-winning author of Bridge to Terabithia and The Great Gilly Hopkins both loved by children and adults for over twenty years. This compilation includes stories of real-life people such as a shopping mall’s night watchman, a lonely widower, a pregnant teenage runaway, a political prisoner in China, a grieving mother, and a privileged American, who have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas because of loss, pain, greed, or circumstances. Through unexpected and uplifting ways, each is reminded of the first Christmas story and the vision of hope and peace it offers the world. They realize that even in the darkness, the light and song of Christmas can be seen and heard.

This heart-warming gift book, filled with stories of realistic people finding hope, courage, and faith amidst life’s circumstances, radiates the spirit of the season and reminds each of us what Christmas truly means. Originally written to be read during her church’s Christmas Eve service, this collection of holiday stories is perfect for individuals, families, and churches to read and share during the season.


Home for Christmas: Stories for Young and Old compiled and edited by Miriam LeBlanc, illustrated by David Klein (Plough Publishing) $22.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $17.60

This extraordinary anthology of quality Christmas stories was previously available in a nice paperback — if you know Plough Publishing you know they do excellent work, with an eye to good craftsmanship and the aesthetic quality of a book. The exquisite (black and white) woodcut illustrations (done by Amish farmer and writer David Klein) are a sight to behold. This year they took this old chestnut and re-issued it in hardback and a very reasonable price.

Home for Christmas is about 330 pages and includes some shorter and some lengthier pieces for authors you may know and many you may not. For instance, you will see a great piece by Pearl Buck and Elizabeth Goudge and Henry van Dyke (of course.) But, is a lovely entry by Katherine Paterson, but there are many others, including writers from Europe. It is a great read-aloud book, mature and wise and good.

“If you’re giving one book for Christmas, make it this one.” Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook.


Mr. Nicholas: A Magical Christmas Tale Christopher De Vinck (Paraclete Press) $20.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00

Ahh, how to explain this without giving too much away? Allow me to note that Mr. De Vinck has been a favorite of ours for years and has a devoted following among serious readers everywhere. He was friends with both Henri Nouwen and Fred Rogers if that sort of places him, and he has written heart-warming but important essays, editorials in the world’s leading papers, well-crafted short stories, devotionals, memoir, and a remarkable historical saga (Ashes) telling the tale of his own grandmother’s escape from Holocaust-era Germany. He’s a good man and a good writer.

In this, with the reindeer on the cover, you can expect a lovely holiday story, and it is. But, from the foreword by Joanne Rogers (wife of Fred) you hear words like this: “May the charm of this little book add to the beauty of your neighborhood.”  Indeed, it is said to be “a story for every family in every neighborhood — to help us see the unique goodness in every person.”

As the late Madeleine L’Engle (another fan) put it,

De Vinck’s point of view about life and love and children and teachers is important for the world. I would like as many people as possible to know his work.

Enjoy this inspiring story about Mr. Nicholas, the eccentric owner of the local hardware shote who “is somehow involved with reindeer, toys and children.” Perhaps he is more than a clerk on Main Street.

The Dog Who Came to Christmas And Other True Stories of the Gifts Dogs Bring Us edited by Callie Smith Grant (Revell) $12.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $10.39

A few of our customers have enjoyed other inspiring animal stories by Callie Smith Grant (especially her Second-Chance Dogs and Second Chance Cats and The Horse of My Dreams.) This, too, is sure to please any group of dog lovers — and the little picture of five canines with Santa hats on that appears on the back is a hoot.

This is pitched as a collection of “feel-good holiday stories but it seems that there really is something extra nice about some of these.

Bright Evening Star: The Mystery of the Incarnation Madeleine L’Engle (with a forward by Addie Zierman) (Convergent) $16.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $12.80

I hope your kids know the YA fiction of the late, great Madeleine L’Engle. I hope you know her adult work, her poetry, Bible reflections, memoirs, and more. This is one written in her classic style, part memoir, part instruction, part rumination. This really is a lovely, thoughtful book for serious adults who like some charm and elegance in their contemporary Christian writing.  Some of it would be good to read aloud. There is a good reader’s guide in the back too for facilitating discussions or book club conversations.




It is helpful if you would tell us how you prefer us to ship your orders. The weight and destination of your package varies but you can use this as a thumbnail, general guide.

There are generally two kinds of US Mail options, and, of course, UPS. If necessary, we can do overnight and other expedited methods, too.

  • United States Postal Service has the option called “Media Mail” which is cheapest but slow and may be delayed. For one book, usually, it’s about $3.50 – $4.00
  • United States Postal Service has another option called “Priority Mail” which is about $8.35 if it fits in a flat rate envelope. Many children’s books are oversized so that will take the next size up with is $8.95. That gets much more attention than does “Media Mail.”
  • UPS Ground is reliable but varies by weight and distance and may take longer than USPS. We’re happy to figure out your options for you once we know what you want.


HELPFUL HINT: If you want US Mail, please say which sort — Media Mail or Priority Mail — so we know how to serve you best. If you say “regular” we left scratching our noggins.


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Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown  PA  17313

We are still closed for in-store browsing due to our commitment to public health and the common good (not to mention the safety of our staff and customers.) The vaccination rate here in York County is sadly lower than average and the positivity rate is going up. Our store is a bit cramped without top-notch ventilation so we are trying to be wise and faithful. Please, wherever you are, do your best to stop this awful sickness going around.

We are doing fun, outdoor, backyard customer service, our famous curb-side delivery, and can show any number of items to you if you call us from our back parking lot. We are eager to serve and grateful for your patience as we all work to mitigate the pandemic.

Of course, we’re happy to ship books anywhere. Just tell us how you want them sent.

We are here 10:00 – 6:00,  Monday – Saturday; closed on Sunday.