ONE MAINE CHRISTMAS EVE

By Douglas Coffin

Tilbury House Publishers, 2015

32 pages, $16.95

Just in time for Christmas comes this hilarious children’s book from long-time cartoonist Douglas Coffin. He lives in Stockton Springs, and although he is a well-known political cartoonist and has his own syndicated comic strip, this is his first book.

Collins does all the work here with colorful cartoon characters and rhyming verse, telling a fanciful and very funny story about how three goofy but wise Maine characters and a menagerie of eager barnyard animals help Santa Claus save Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, Miss Moody and her dog, Smittens, are abruptly awakened by a noisy racket in the barnyard. Santa has bedded down his eight sick reindeer in her barn and now wonders how he will ever finish his Christmas deliveries of toys to boys and girls.

Miss Moody and her two boarders, Emery and Millie, come up with a great idea — if the reindeer cannot pull Santa’s sleigh, they’ll hitch up a wacky collection of farm animals. While the reindeer rest in the barn, Santa will be off again in no time.

Wonderful cartoons and terrific, easy narrative for ages 4-8.

WHERE DO FAIRIES GO WHEN IT SNOWS?

By Liza Gardner Walsh

Down East Books, 2015

32 pages, $16.95

Everyone knows fairies like summer sunshine and flowers, but where do they go when it’s winter and it snows?

Author Liza Gardner Walsh, of Camden, is a fairy expert with two previous books about fairy houses. Now she helps children figure out where fairies go and what they do in the winter snow. Walsh and illustrator Hazel Mitchell, of Detroit, Maine, combine to present a fantasy tale complete with fairy fun, fairy food, fairy houses and fairy winter activities for kids ages 4-7.

The story is told in a series of rhyming questions for children to answer as they look at fun pictures of fairies as they work, play and help forest animals prepare for a cold, snowy winter.

This is a simple, fun story full of imagination and beautifully illustrated with vibrant, detailed pictures. Children will love to find the fairy taking a snail for a walk, the bat sleeping in a tree, the rabbit waiter serving strawberries and the ladybug balancing a cup on its head.

The message here is that fairies show kindness to all living things and enjoy helping everyone.

CHRISTMAS IN MAINE

By Robert P. Tristram Coffin

Islandport Press, 2015

32 pages, $17.95

Christmas holiday traditions in Maine have long provided writers and poets with warm memories of family and friends during the Christmas season.

It can be argued that nobody does that better than Robert P. Tristram Coffin (1892-1955), Maine’s Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and author. His essay “Christmas In Maine” was originally published in 1941.

The story is beautifully illustrated with woodblock prints created by Blue Butterfield, a Portland artist whose woodblock illustrations are colorful, intricate and stunningly detailed, an unusual and very effective compliment to Coffin’s vivid narrative.

Best to be read aloud by an adult, this book is for both children and adults, as Coffin describes a noisy, loving family Christmas at Paradise Farm. He tells of the huge family gathering, a group of funny aunts, uncles and cousins, and Snoozer, the family dog. He tells of everyone happily fussing over food, decorating the tree, singing carols, sledding, sleighing and playing in the snow, as well as the three-hour Christmas dinner (including a special baked raccoon for Uncle Tom) and storytelling by the fireplace after dinner.

Coffin’s Christmas is idyllic, a fun, tender vision of joyful family holiday traditions still remembered.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.