Perfect Picture Book – Christmas City

Christmas City:  A Look Again Book

Michael Garland, author and illustrator

Puffin Books,  2004, Fiction

Suitable for:  Children ages 4 to 8

Themes: Christmas Eve Adventure, Giving, Imagination,  Hide-and-Seek Activity

Opening“It was Christmas Eve.  Tommy was sorting through the last few Christmas cards when he found one addressed to him.  There was a note inside from Aunt Jean to join her at once….Tommy put on his hat and coat and walked out into the snowy night.  Sure enough, there was a yellow taxi waiting for him, buried in snow up to its fenders.  The driver was a strange little man who had to stand on the seat to see out the windshield.  He didn’t answer when Tommy said hello.  He just smiled and handed Tommy a note.  But before Tommy could read it, the quiet night was broken by the roar of the engine.  This was no ordinary cab!  Tommy gasped as it lifted off the ground into the air.”

Tommy is taken on the ride of his life  when he arrives at a special destination,  Christmas City.   He enters the Grand Palace and embarks upon a treasure hunt created by Aunt Jean, who leaves rhyming mystery notes around this sparkling city.  Each note leads to a fun destination and a final surprise.  Tommy encounters a courtyard with horse-drawn sleighs, street vendors, elves, ice sculptures, gift shops,  musicians and dancers,  and a grand dining hall.  But, where is Aunt Jean?  Christmas City is a wonderful  addition to every Christmas book shelf.

Why I like this book:  This is a book siblings can read together.  Younger kids will be captivated by the breathtaking pictures and Tommy’s adventure.  Older children will spend hours looking for the 200 items hidden in the pages of the book, decoding a holiday message, and finding their way through a maze.  Garland’s attention to detail is exquisite and his illustrations are dazzling.  Click on my author interview with Michael Garland  (11/30/11) to learn more about the artist and his new book, Oh! What A Christmas.

Activity:  This Look Again Book is educational.  Arm your children with pencils and paper so they can count and list all the items that they find inside the book.  On the last page, Garland lists all the items in a maze-like pattern.   Parents may want to have their own Christmas treasure hunt.  Leave notes for children to search for small gifts and candy, a recipe with ingredients to bake cookies, and items to make treats for their outside furry friends (i.e. peanut butter on pine cones, strung cranberries for an outdoor tree, bird seed hangers).  For more information about other books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

Every Friday I will share my Perfect Picture Book, as will other writers on their blogs.  Our selections will be posted on author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website under Perfect Picture  Books.  We hope to develop a list of favorite picture books for parents, teachers, librarians,  writers, homeschoolers and gift-givers.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

24 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book – Christmas City

  1. Oh boy! More Michael Garland! (I find it highly appropriate that someone who writes so delightfully about Christmas should be named GARLAND.)

    This sounds like such fun, and a great way to involve kids in the joys of Christmas. I can see it as a good Christmas Eve (all day!) book that would keep kids busy and totally entertained as they wait for the big day.


    • Beth, I’m sure he will enjoy your comment about his last name. Funny, I didn’t pick up on that and I’ve been reading his books for a while. It is a gorgeous and fun actiity book. — Pat


  2. Hi Pat, this book sounds like so much fun. My kids used to love those books where they search for things in the illustrations.

    On another note, I’ve been wanting to recommend a book to you that I think you’ll enjoy, but I can’t find a contact button anywhere. The book is called My Clearest Me by Gueh Yanting, Claudine and Quek Rui Zhen, Sarah from Carry Us Off Books. It’s a charming and important book for shy, introverted children. I think it would be a good fit for your blog.


  3. Nice choice Pat! I can’t wait to read it!

    Santa left a Christmas treasure hunt for my daughter once, and it was a big hit!


    • Thanks Cathy. Glad to know someone else has done a treasure hunt. I did them a couple of years for my daughter, and then once for a birthday party. Kids love to find notes with clues about the finding next clue knowing that a prize is at the end. Added the word hunt in your post. – Pat


  4. THis sounds wonderful! I love Michael’s books, and when my kids were little they loved those I Spy books – it’s always fun to have thing to look for. This book sounds engaging on so many levels, and you could have such fun with the activities you suggest!


    • Thanks Susanna, the book is engaging on many levels. The artwork is stunning! Since I did the interview with Micahel Garland two days ago, I thought it would be fun to feature another one of his Christmas books for Perfect Picture Book Friday. And, this one was packed with activities. – Pat


    • Julie, thank you. I’m sure he’d love the book. Did you see the author interview I did with Garland two days ago. I linked it to the review I wrote. He would love the interior artwork Michael let me share on the blog. It’s called Oh, What A Christmas. – Pat


  5. I want to jump into that Taxi with Tommy! What a delightful picture book for the holiday-full of magic and fun. I won’t be able to order this one in time for the holiday, but I’ll check the public library. I would love to read it aloud the week before our break. The activity ideas are endless with this book! Thanks, Pat! 🙂


    • Yes, I feel the same way too. I would love to be in that cab! Your kids at school will love this book. It does have all kinds of possibilities for activities. It is in the libraries, so I hope you get it in time. My library carries almost all of his books. My favorite Garland book is Christmas Magic — great story and beautiful illustrations. And, a twist at the end.


  6. This was lovely Pat, I to went for an activity book that I have had here for a couple of years and only now remembered it. Funny that Susanna should mention the I Spy Books as the author, is also the author of the book I have posted for Perfect Picture Book Friday.
    I enjoyed this.


  7. That is an amazing book! So many activities relating to it too. Even my kids would stop messing about and read that one 😉 Straight on the to-read list, thanks Pat!


    • Glad you liked Michael Garland’s book, and I hope your kids have a chance to read the book. You might want to check out some of his other books, as he’s done a number of books like this. I don’t know if you had a chance to click on the author interview I did with Garland on Nov. 30, but your kids would love to peek at the interior artwork he let me use in the review on his recent book, “Oh, What A Christmas.” He talks about his illustrations and it would give you a better sense of his work. Thanks for stopping.


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