The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, by Susan Wojciechowski (Walker pounds 9.99), is for those who like their seasonal message hot, strong and sentimental. A woodcarver, a lonely widower, undertakes to carve a set of nativity figures for a young widow and her son. Time passes: he carves, she knits, and the little boy learns lessons in life; by the end, the village children no longer call him "Mr Gloomy". With beautiful painterly illustrations by P J Lynch; without the smallest dash of cynicism.
The paperback edition of Pat Thomson's A Cracker Full of Christmas Stories (Corgi pounds 2.99) provides plenty of enjoyable, middle-ability reading in the form of 12 stories that range from the traditional-in-feel ("Images in Bethlehem" by Grace Hallworth) to the contemporary ("Our classroom looked smashing" begins "The Christmas Party" by George Layton). Excellent value and variety; pain-free for reluctant readers.
A variation on the Nativity story in Spider's Christmas Gift by Melissa Kajpust (Viking pounds 9.99) for ages 7-12. A mother spider and her 40 children live in a stable in Bethlehem, where they spin healing webs around the wounds of sick animals, mend the roof, and all sorts of useful things. When one bold young spider sees the rich gifts being brought to the latest baby to be born there, he gives his mother an idea. Prettily illustrated by Veselina Tomova in the style of a middle-European folk-tale.