Coconut Grove

Young Groveites Reading List: December Highlights

My Penguin Osbert

By Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, illustrated by H.B. Lewis

Sometimes Santa takes your Christmas wishes very seriously. So it is important to be careful what you wish for this Christmas, because it just might come true! This is a lesson Joe learns as he writes a personal letter to Santa asking for a penguin for Christmas. Incredibly, Santa gives him exactly what he wished for, a real, breathing, life-size penguin named Osbert. But Osbert comes with much more responsibility than Joe expected, and he soon realizes that owning your very own penguin is hard work. Lewis’ charming illustrations beautifully portray the soft, calm colors of winter, which stand in sharp contrast to Osbert’s vibrant personality. Lewis’ masterful use of size and dimension portray Joe as the focal point of the story, and as Osbert’s guardian, giving him the attention and authority of an adult. These illustrations show that we are responsible for our gifts, no matter our age, and must learn to care for them. Kimmel’s story will warm your hearts and homes this Christmas and have you longing for a small Osbert of your very own—well, at least a stuffed toy version.

The Polar Express

By Chris Van Allsburg

A magical midnight journey on an enchanted train takes readers to Santa’s workshop in the North Pole. Seeing the see the miracle of Christmas is what keeps us young at heart. This message is further emphasized by the sleigh bell the young boy is given by Santa as a boy and keeps with him into old age. Van Allsburg’s full-spread images use muted colors and blurred edges to recreate the snowy night before Christmas. Lighting only comes from the windows in the train and buildings, street lamps, and the burning coal driving the engine home to the North Pole. The Polar Expressis a dreamy reconstruction of a symbolic experience written to urge the reader to remember the magic of Christmas, no matter their age. If only you believe, you too will hear the ringing of the silver bell. Van Allsburg’s express train is one in which many of us wish to believe and a journey you will never forget.

To see more of Erica's suggestions, visit