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Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons Children's Book Review

Updated on August 26, 2011
Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jane Dyer book cover
Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jane Dyer book cover
Edward Hicks was perhaps America's most famous colonial folk artist. He painted the Peaceable Kingdom series depicting children and animals living side by side in harmony and peace.
Edward Hicks was perhaps America's most famous colonial folk artist. He painted the Peaceable Kingdom series depicting children and animals living side by side in harmony and peace.

"PEACE means no one is worried about anyone else's this moment we are all quietly content with the cookies we have." Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons (ISBN-10: 0060580240) is an appealing children's picture book that defines common family values while telling the story of baking, sharing, and enjoying Christmas cookies. Author Amy Krouse Rosenthal imbues each page with a unique value that crosses cultures and religious viewpoints.

While Christmas Cookies encapsulates many of the core values encountered as part of the Christian Christmas holiday such as peace, joy, tradition, and charity, the author also explores broader values and character traits of belonging to a family, a neighborhood, or a community while sharing the rewards and disappointments of baking and sharing treats with others. This book would be appropriate in any household.

What recommends this book for me is the grace in which the author highlights these important family values without making the book into a morality tale. Unfortunately, many books in this genre forget their audience and become "books that a parent would want to buy for their children because they are good for them" instead of "books that a parent would want to read to their children because their children would enjoy them." A young child will enjoy this book because it is about making cookies, sharing them with neighbors, and enjoying the peace of Christmas. Likewise, this book could easily become part of any family's personal collection of Christmas storybooks, ready to be made into its own family tradition, because the message is positive, timeless, and uplifting.

The cover art by illustrator Jane Dyer depicts a young girl with curly hair wearing a red hat and a red coat. I have a photo of my aunt taken in 1955 wearing almost this exact same outfit. The pictures are painted and artistically rendered in a realistic style using reds and jaunty blues combined with pine-colored greens. The result is timeless and appealing. This book depicts children and families of different races and ethnicities sharing the joy of Christmas cookies together and with anthropomorphic animal friends. This book forays into fantasy by depicting children and their families interacting with families of bunnies, cats, and even giraffes.The illustrations have an unusual quality that isn't off-putting, but it is definitely different. For example, on one page, a group of people sit around a table with clothed giraffes and lions. The illustrations remind me of The Peaceable Kingdom, by American colonial artist Edward Hicks. Hicks was a Quaker who sought to promote virtues of simplicity and eschew materialism in his artwork. 

This book will be a winner for anyone who has baked cookies to take to neighbors or to leave for Santa as a snack. Children's book lovers who are looking for a charming family gift will appreciate the message of character and values education without a heavy-handed format.

Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons as a Gift

My husband comes from a family of 8 children, and all are grown up and have families of their own. My mother-in-law often gives each family a beautifully-illustrated children's picture book with an uplifting or religious message. This book is a perfect fit for such gift-giving. Although some of the definitions are a little advanced for the typical preschool-aged child or younger, the illustrations and scenes are pleasant and inviting. This is a book that can grow with a family.

This book would also make a great addition to a cookie-themed gift basket or with some Christmas-themed cookie cutters. You might also consider making a Christmas cookie-themed gift basket containing any combination of the following items:

  • This book
  • a sugar cookie mix
  • sprinkles
  • a bag of confectioner's sugar
  • colorful plastic measuring spoons and cups
  • a silicone spatula
  • a baking sheet
  • a box of waxed paper
  • or baking paper

Related Books

  • The Gift of the Christmas Cookie by Dandi Daley Mackall is a Christian Christmas story set during America's Great Depression during the 1930s. This story centers on sacrificing what is dear to us to make others happy. An excellent selection for those looking for meaning beyond empty gift-giving during the holiday season.
  • The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone is a traditional folktale about a little gingerbread boy hot out of the oven who runs away from everyone in the village until he is outsmarted by a sly fox.
  • Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. This book is the prequel to Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Lessons. This book in Rosenthal's Cookies series focuses on etiquette.
  • God's Wisdom for Little Girls by Elizabeth George is similarly a character education book that focuses on developing and defining positive character traits. This picture book is beautifully illustrated.
  • God's Wisdom for Little Boys by Jim and Elizabeth George has appealing illustrations and a similar message of character education from the Bible's book of proverbs.
  • If your children are older than say, six years old, you might consider instead the popular books by William J. Bennett. This best-selling author is a proponent of ethics and has published a series of books for different audiences including: The Children's Book of Virtues, The Children's Book of Heroes, The Book of Virtues for Young People.


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