Books always come into the limelight at Christmastime because they afford an opportunity to give a gift that appeals to the receiver's special interest. They suggest that personal touch that makes a person's gift "meant for him or her."
Christmas is the favorite time of the year for many people. It's a time for the family, a time for sharing. For some of these people it is itself a "special interest," just as much as golf, sewing, science fiction, art, music or horseback riding is for others.
This year, publishers appear to have recognized this more than in years past; consequently, a large number of new books about Christmas have been submitted for review and are showing up in bookstores.
If there's a person on your gift list you want to remember with a book for and about Christmas, here's a sampling by the You staff of 10 that are available. If you don't find one of these in your department store or bookstore, you'll surely find others that will satisfy your needs.
December 25th: The Joys of Christmas Past by Phillip Snyder (Dodd, Mead: $17.95, hardcover).
Snyder gives us a nostalgic look at Christmas with the history of some of the most heartwarming customs and traditions, such as the Christmas feast, gift giving and music. A reader could almost miss out on the turkey dinner if he or she gets enthralled with some of the many anecdotes here. The old-fashioned pen-and-ink drawings and photographs add a lot to the charm of this well-researched, 310-page volume.
The Rand McNally Book of Favorite Christmas Stories (Rand McNally: $8.95, hardcover).
This book is good for the preschool child but even better for the youngster who has just learned to read. It's a four-story anthology featuring "The Night Before Christmas," "Christmas Joys," "The Christmas Snowman" and "Noni the Christmas Reindeer." The stories are printed in easy-to-read, one-quarter-inch type
with simple, colorful illustrations on every page.
A Christmas Treasury, illustrated by Greg Hildebrandt (Unicorn Publishing: $11.95, hardcover).
Hildebrandt acknowledges members of his family and friends who posed as models for this colorfully illustrated treasury
of " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas," plus the story of the Nativity, a selection of seven Christmas carols and all the words to "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Hildebrandt shows great talent for putting the age-old images of Christmas into a contemporary vein that many children may find more credible than those to which they are
Follow the Year: A Family Celebration of Christian Holidays by Mala Powers, illustrated by Frances Elizabeth Livens (Harper & Row: $14.95, hardcover).
While emphasis is on Christmas--with the first 58 pages of the total 126 devoted to stories of the Nativity, the history of "Silent Night," and such classics as "The Gift of the Magi"--this is a year-round journey through the Christian calendar, from Christmas through Easter, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Illustrations are primarily pastels with a soft feeling for naturalness. Powers, an actress who counts among her credits the role of Roxanne opposite Jose Ferrer in the film "Cyrano de Bergerac," reveals versatility in this exceptionally fine collection of legends, Bible stories and modern tales.
Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, illustrated by Michael Cole (Barron's: $14.95, hardcover).
If you're looking for the unusual, this may be for you. British artist Cole presents an illustrated book with the full text of Dickens' classic tale, but along with it is a cartoon or comic-book version of the story that may entice a non-reader to settle down later to the real text. The book shows a lot of careful research about the period in London.
Santa's Christmas Journey by Roger Brooke, illustrated by Elizabeth J. Miles (Rand McNally: $5.95).
This original vignette of Santa provides an answer for all the questions asked by the wee believers of the man in red. It's an around-the-world trip on Christmas Eve with Santa, and the toys and presents are magically reduced to the size of peas to make room for all the gifts in his sleigh. It may never take the place of " 'Twas the Night Before . . . ," but it's a good supplement to Christmas "read-to-me" fare.
All Through the House: Christmas in Cross-Stitch, edited by Linda Baltzell Wright (Oxmoor House: $19.95).
If there's a cross-stitch artist among your Christmas aficionados, you can cross another present-to-buy off your list when you see this 144-page, hardcover, 8 1/2-by-11 inch volume. With designs from the Vanessa-Ann Collection, there are 70 projects in full color with 44 charts for producing the designs.
The Christmas Book, by Marcia O. Martin (Hugh Lauter Levin Associates/Scribner's: $15.95).