Monday, December 02, 2013

'Tis the Season...To Enjoy Christmas Picture Books! A post by CBIG Member, Chris Wold Dyrud

We artists love to collect Christmas picture books. Among my many books by illustrator Tomie dePaola, I see that ten of them are Christmas books.

by Chris Wold Dyrud
In his version of The Night Before Christmas, the art was inspired by his collection of New England quilts and traditional holiday folk arts. I still feel a sense of serenity in viewing his illustrated song, The Friendly Beasts. Just as a song moves along with a rhythm, the eye moves from page to page with rhythmic repetitions of verticals, groups of threes and the direction of the figures. I admire how simply he creates his characters and how solid they feel with their appealing rounded lines and folded fabrics. The Story of the ThreeWise Kings surprises us with his imaginative depictions of stars.

He has compiled songs and holiday traditions in Tomie dePaola’s Book of Christmas Carols and Hark,a Christmas Sampler, which was created with Jane Yolen and her son, Adam Stemple. In these two collections, he adapts his bright colors and shapes to folk art styles from many lands. 

You may have seen Merry Christmas Strega Nona, but have you seen Jingle, the Christmas Clown? It is another Italian village tale with dePaola’s endearing faces and animals. Children dressed up for a church pageant appear in his book, The Christmas Pageant. Even though I hadn’t thought of The Clown of God as a Christmas book, I am reminded that it ends with a heartwarming portrayal of the Madonna and child on the birthday of the Holy Child.

by Chris Wold Dyrud
So many other distinct styles of art are on my shelf: the whimsy in Hilary Knight’s Twelve Days of Christmas; the dramatic silhouettes of Jan Pienkowski’s Christmas; the muted, simple watercolors by Lisbeth Zwerger in O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi; the intricately textured scratchboards by Fritz Eichenberg in his version of A Child’s Christmas in Wales, by Dylan Thomas; the unforgettable frosty pencil snow scenes by Susan Jeffers for Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.

There will always be marvelous new holiday books, and some of our very own CBIG artists are creating them! I have illustrated many versions of the Christmas story for Sunday School Materials. The images in this post are examples of illustrations I have created for my own family Christmas cards. 

To see more of Chris's work, visit her website at


scottspinks said...

Thanks for this, Chris! A great short list of some wonderful children's picture books for the holidays!

Johnathan Kuehl said...

Great stuff, I love the ornaments pic too!

Barb Bjornson said...

Nice article Chris, I looked at your website. Beautiful work!!!!