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The Top Five: Holiday Reading

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The 12 Days of Christmas: A Pop-Up Celebration, by Robert Sabuda. Simon & Schuster; $26.95.
Who can remember all the lyrics to “The Twelve Days of Christmas”? Now the words really do leap off the page. Each line of the classic holiday counting song gets its own pop-up treatment, where maids go a-milking and pipers start piping. The book also comes with a turtledove ornament to adorn your own tree. Little inventors will be inspired to make their own versions: Consider some origami paper as a stocking stuffer. All ages.

Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis. HarperCollins; $12.99.
This engaging picture book uses few words per page, showing us worlds children create to which grown-ups are oblivious. Author Portis is a former creative director at Disney and a recovering type A who retreated to a simpler life and found this story amid the quiet. For toddlers.

The Mice of Bistrot des Sept Frères, by Marie Letourneau. Tanglewood Press; $15.95.
It’s a language lesson and a cookbook, wrapped in the story about a team of Parisian chef mice—one dad, seven sons—who desperately want to win the coveted award for the best cheese soup in France. While the brothers turn the kitchen upside down, their sister, Petite Michelle, calmly pirouettes around the chaos and cooks up the winning recipe. The French words sprinkled throughout make this book fun to read aloud (a pronunciation guide is included for us Ugly Americans). For ages 3 to 8.

Jake the Philharmonic Dog, by Karen Lefrak. Walker & Company; $16.95.
A New York Philharmonic board member, Lefrak got the idea to introduce little concertgoers to the orchestra by letting a dog with a keen sense of rhythm annotate a day at Lincoln Center. Richie—based on a real-life stagehand at the Phil—brings his black terrier to Avery Fisher Hall, where he spends the day romping through a rehearsal and attempting to play fetch with a conductor’s baton. For ages 3 to 8.

When Santa Fell to Earth, by Cornelia Funke. Chicken House; $15.99.
For kids who can handle a Santa with issues, the best-selling author of Inkheart invents a veiled political tale in which the Great Christmas Council wants to nix all wish lists. Gerold Geronimus Goblynch, the ultimate bad Santa, threatens any Santas who won’t go commercial by trading their sleighs for snowmobiles. The big day is saved by a less-than-courageous reindeer, some brave kids, and bumbling elves who continually bemoan such hardships as “smelly goblin farts.” A chapter book for ages 8 to 12.


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