The 12 books of Christmas, 2021

Just like last year, I find myself with a pile of books that I didn’t read or that I still have on hold at the library. I am dumping them all into one big post, wrapping it up, and tying it with a bow for your holiday enjoyment. Starting tomorrow, I will have posts of my favorite books in all different categories, just as I have done in years past.

Once Upon a Camel by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Eric Rohmann

Published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

Once Upon a Camel: Appelt, Kathi, Rohmann, Eric: 9781534406438:  Books

An elderly camel tells stories about her adventurous life AND it’s illustrated by Eric Rohmann. It’s sitting unread on my bookcase, and I guess my excuse is that I’m not always a big fan of talking animal stories. This really does look charming, though, and looks like it would make a good read-aloud.

Willodeen by Katherine Applegate

Published by Feiwel & Friends

Willodeen: Applegate, Katherine: 9781250147400: Books

I actually started reading this and wasn’t super excited by it. It’s an allegorical tale about preserving the environment, and it felt a little too heavy on the allegory to me. Also, Katherine Applegate did such a great job with this theme in The Endling books that this almost feels unnecessary. Still, it is Katherine Applegate, and it appears that there were many, many readers who really enjoyed this book this year.

The Swag Is In the Socks by Kelly J. Baptist

Published by Crown Books

The Swag Is in the Socks: Baptist, Kelly J.: 9780593380864:  Books

I came this close to reading this book and still may get to it over vacation. I loved Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly Baptist, and this one looks really good, too: Xavier is a kid whose always been in the background, but when his great uncle starts sending him outlandish socks, he decides it’s time to step up and figure out who he really is.

Out of My Heart by Sharon M. Draper

Published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

Out of My Heart: Draper, Sharon M.: 9781665902168: Books

I don’t often review sequels, and I guess I’ll use this as my excuse here, but this may be the book I feel most regretful about not getting to this year. I loved Out of My Mind, and I know a lot of kids have, too, plus books about kids with physical disabilities (in this case, cerebral palsy) are all too rare.

When I Wake Up by Seth Fishman, illustrated by Jessixa Bagley

Published by Greenwillow Books

When I Wake Up: Fishman, Seth, Bagley, Jessixa: 9780062455802:  Books

Okay, people, this sounds like a choose-your-own adventure picture book. How cool is that? I have it on hold at the library, but it was just released on December 14, so I didn’t get it in time to review this year.

Two At the Top: A Shared Dream of Everest by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Christopher Corr

Published by Groundwood Books

Two at the Top: A Shared Dream of Everest: Krishnaswami, Uma, Corr,  Christopher: 9781773062662: Books

These small press books can be tough to get my hands on, so I never got to read this, but it sounds fascinating. Told in the voices of Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary, the narrative switches between their two stories until their lives intersect when they become the first to summit Chomolungma, or Mt. Everest.

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (As Told to His Brother) by David Levithan

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother):  Levithan, David: 9781984848598: Books

I put off reading this book because I reasoned I didn’t really care for Skellig, written by (I thought) the same author. About a month ago, I realized the Skellig author is actually David Almond, not David Levithan. My bad, and it kept me from reading a book with a Narnia connection which I would undoubtedly have enjoyed.

Da Vinci’s Cat by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Published by Greenwillow Books Da Vinci's Cat: 9780063015258: Murdock, Catherine Gilbert: Books

Here’s another one I stayed away from because of my prejudices: I didn’t much care for The Book of Boy (which actually WAS written by Catherine Gilbert Murdock) and felt like it had very little kid appeal. This book got a couple of starred reviews, though, and sounds like a good time-travel tale.

Charlotte and the Nutcracker: The True Story of a Girl Who Made Ballet History by Charlotte Nebres, illustrated by Alea Marley

Published by Random House Books for Young Readers

Charlotte and the Nutcracker: The True Story of a Girl Who Made Ballet  History: Nebres, Charlotte, Marley, Alea: 9780593374900: Books

Written by the young ballerina who was the first Black Marie (Clara to some fans) in the New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker, this sounds like an awesome Christmas picture book. Too bad it was released on December 21! What’s up with that, Random House?

A Sky-Blue Bench by Bahram Rahman

Published by Pajama Press

A Sky-Blue Bench: Rahman, Bahram, Collins, Peggy: 9781772782226:  Books

Here’s another small press book that came out late in the year, which means I couldn’t get it in time to review (marketing departments at small presses, please send me review copies!). A young girl who has lost her leg to a landmine figures out a way to make going to school possible for herself. Can’t wait to read it.

The Welcome Chair by Rosemary Wells, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Published by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books

The Welcome Chair - Kindle edition by Wells, Rosemary, Pinkney, Jerry.  Children Kindle eBooks @

Rosemary Wells, Jerry Pinkney, a story of a chair passed from one immigrant family to the next: it seemed like a book I should love, but I read it weeks ago and never felt inspired to review it. It got great reviews, though, so don’t let me stop you from taking a look.

From the Tops of the Trees by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Rachel Wada

Published by Carolrhoda Books

From the Tops of the Trees: Yang, Kao Kalia, Wada, Rachel: 9781541581302: Books

Another one that I’m still waiting to get from my public library. The story is based on the author’s experiences at a Hmong refugee camp in Thailand following the war in Laos during the Vietnam War. As a four-year-old, Kalia has spent her whole life in the camp, but one day her father takes her to the tallest tree so she can see the world that is waiting for her. Sounds amazing.

December 25, 2021 at 04:30PM Janet Dawson