Magical Christmas Picture Books

Merry Christmas from ThunderStone Books! As the holiday approaches, some of the members of the ThunderStone Books team talk about their favorite Christmas picture books. Curl up with one of these under the light of the Christmas tree, hot cocoa in hand, for a wonderful addition to your Christmas season.

Debbie’s Pick

Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs



“Personally, I thoroughly enjoy Raymond Briggs’ portrayal of Father Christmas as it is far from ‘the norm’ that we are used to. There is no magic workshop, no elves and certainly no jolly laughter. Father Christmas is shown to be from more humble beginnings. He lives alone in a small house with his cat and dog while his 2 deer live in stables outside. He dreams of being on the beach sunbathing and can’t wait for the stress of Christmas to be over. His reaction to the difficulties of being Father Christmas (flying in bad weather, getting gifts to those who live in unusual places like a lighthouse, being covered in soot) generate a sympathetic reaction from the reader. It makes Father Christmas much more relatable in comparison to the magical and lively interpretation we are so used to.”


Chris’s Pick

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer


“This has always been my favorite because I was able to connect with several of the characters because they were outsiders and I have always felt different from everyone else. Rudolph with his nose, Hermey the elf who wants to be a dentist, and the highlight for me was the island of misfit toys; a cowboy that rides an ostrich sounds pretty awesome to me.”


Robert’s Pick

The Best Christmas Book Ever by Richard Scarry


The Best Christmas Book Ever is one of the Christmas picture books that I read most as a kid. It is a collection of short Christmas stories all revolving around the city of Busytown. The thing I like most about this book is that the book is about a community during the Christmas season and to me, Christmastime is all about community. The Christmas season brings people together and inspires a connectedness with each other that is not as strong at other times of the year.”


Rachel’s Pick

The Amazing Christmas Extravaganza by David Shannon


“In my opinion, David Shannon is a master of storytelling and illustration. When I was young, each night during December, my mom would gather me and my sisters and we would read Christmas stories by the light of the Christmas tree. One of our favorites was The Amazing Christmas Extravaganza, the story of a man who took his desire to put more Christmas lights on his house to the extreme and who lost the meaning of Christmas because of that. It’s a touching story with a sweet ending and every time I see extravagant displays of Christmas lights, I think of that book.”


Merry Christmas! Which Christmas picture books are your favorites?


Homemade Gifts for Your Favorite Bibliophile

Design your own book cover of your bibliophile’s favorite book.

For a while, Penguin had a series of out-of-copyright books that had blank covers so that people could design their own covers, which was a brilliant idea! Unfortunately, the series is no longer in print, but that does not mean that you can’t give your favorite bibliophile a book with a custom cover. Pick your bibliophile’s favorite out-of-copyright book (a good resource is Project Gutenberg) and then design your own cover for it. If you know a bit about bookbinding, you could print the book and bind it yourself, but there are many self-publishing venues such as CreateSpace or Lulu through which you could also publish your gift.




Create a mini version of your bibliophile’s favorite book.

Why is it that mini versions of things are so adorable? If you can find the text for an out-of-copyright book that your favorite bibliophile loves, then printing it and folding it as a mini version can be a lot of fun. This is easiest to do for very short books (such as picture book length) where you can print sixteen mini pages per one A4 or letter size page (click this link to learn more about printing and folding). You can give the mini book to your favorite bibliophile as is or you could tie a string to it, making the mini book a Christmas tree ornament!


Design bookmarks.

The key to making homemade bookmarks that don’t look cheap or homemade is to be creative. Go beyond printing words or images on cardstock and think outside the box. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Think different format. Instead of doing a traditional long, rectangular bookmark, create corner bookmarks, perhaps bookmarks look like monsters or animals who are eating the pages.

Think texture. Utilize fabric, ribbon, tassels, beads, bows, and other textual elements to make your bookmark unique.

Think personalized. The best bookmarks are ones that speak to your friend specifically. Utilize quotes from your bibliophile’s favorite book or shapes, designs, and references from things they love. For example, if your bibliophile is fascinated with Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster, maybe you create a Nessie bookmark!

5035228601Make book page roses.

What book lover wouldn’t appreciate a bouquet of roses made from book pages? Visit your local thrift store to purchase some old books from which you feel comfortable tearing pages. With scissors and a little bit of glue from a hot glue gun, you can create some beautiful paper roses. The flowers pictured here were made from sheets of music, but book pages would be made in a similar way. You can see a great tutorial on book page roses here.

Devise a hollowed-out book.

If you want to help your favorite bibliophile fulfill his or her lifelong dream to feel like a spy (let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to feel like a spy?), then you can do so by creating a hollowed-out book. Use hot glue to glue two books together, one on top of the other, and then open the front cover and use a sharp knife to cut out a large hole in the middle of the two books. For fun, you might consider stashing a small water gun in the hole before shutting the cover, wrapping it, and surprising your favorite bibliophile.