Are your jingle bells already jangled? Has "Bah, humbug!" already crossed your lips? Relax. A little hot cocoa, a quiet corner and a merry book will turn your Grinchy grin into a 'tis-the-season smile. We've checked out a stocking full of new Christmas releases and selected a few of the best to brighten your spirits.

If the hectic pace of the modern holiday season gets you down, Bob Artley's Christmas on the Farm will transport you back to a simpler place and time. Growing up on an Iowa farm in the 1920s, Artley lived without electricity or indoor plumbing, but the smell of mincemeat pie baking in the big black cookstove and the happy music of sleigh bells brought warmth and cheer to his young heart. This engaging childhood reminiscence comes alive through Artley's numerous watercolor illustrations. From gathering wood and hauling water to the pastoral quiet of a "silent night" scene, his work depicts both the hardships of rural life and its awe-inspiring humble beauty. Despite the onslaught of chores and the biting cold of Iowa winters, Artley looks back with joy and gratitude for Christmases full of handmade gifts, a fresh-cut tree strung with popcorn and the closeness of family and friends.

Linda Stankard admits to making her own mincemeat one jangled Christmas.

comments powered by Disqus