Written by Nancy White Carlstrom, Illustrated by Bruce Degen
Aladdin Paperbacks, 2000
Where is Christmas, Jesse Bear?
I see Christmas over there.
The plot in a nutshell: A little bear experiences Christmas with all his senses.
Jesse Bear sees Christmas in the decorations they put up all over the house. He touches Christmas in the needles and ornaments of the Christmas tree and the wrapping of gifts. He smells Christmas in the baking of gingerbear cookies and hot apple cider. He hears Christmas in the bells rung by street corner Santas and the music of carols. He moves with Christmas, shopping and caroling and playing a part in the Christmas pageant. He feels Christmas in his heart as his parents read him a story on Christmas Eve. And he knows Christmas is here.
This is the Christmas book in the Jesse Bear series of books from author Nancy White Carlstrom and it shares the same sing-song rhyming text and close-knit bear family from the other books in the same series. This book focuses on the different senses, but I was really surprised to note that it didn’t include anything about tasting Christmas because I feel like that’s a real missed opportunity. I love that we see Jesse Bear and his parents interacting with their grandparents, emphasizing how nice it can be to spend time with extended family during the holidays.
The illustrations were done by Bruce Degen, who is probably best known as the illustrator of the popular Magic School Bus book series. The pictures for this book are similarly playful and peppered with little details and cute visual jokes (such as the bag from a ‘Bears Doe Buck’ store) that are likely to get a chuckle or two from parents. The book really evokes a warm feeling of joy and family and love during the Christmas season and I really enjoyed it. Snuggle up with a cup of cocoa for this one.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that Christmas delights all your senses so don’t forget to use them all for maximum enjoyment.