Book Reviews: Samurai Santa, Gingerbread Pirates and Zombelina

The best part of being an auntie is sitting down with my nephews and nieces and reading a good book together before bedtime. I have purchased many books for them in lieu of dump trunks or easy bake ovens (although a good dump truck can be hours of fun).

This season will be no exception. I went to Barnes and Nobles…

Okay, quick side note, don’t you love the smell of books when you first step into a Barnes and Nobles? It’s like opening a fresh box of crayons. Admit it, you know what I’m talking about.

… and was looking for a few good holiday books to read with my nephews and nieces over Christmas. I was surprised to find the selection quirky, multicultural and charming.

Ninja’s celebrate Christmas. Who knew?

Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas

Written and Illustrated by Rubin Pingk


Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas, is a story about a little boy named Yukio. He appears to live in a ninja dojo with other little boys. There is a big snowstorm. All Yukio wants for Christmas is a snowball fight, but all of the other boys want to be good for Santa. So, Yukio comes up with a dastardly plan to run Santa out of town.

I have never seen a Japanese Christmas story before, so I thought the multicultural aspect of it was very interesting. In the end Yukio learns a good lesson, and realizes that Santa is pretty awesome.

The illustrations are a kind of stylized anime in grey scale and red, which makes Santa really stand out on the page. The contrast between the ninjas all in black and the white snowmen is visually striking.

Best Line:

“Suddenly a SAMURAI stood on the hill with an army of snowmen.”

Overall: Not a holiday tearjerker, but a definite hit for a reluctant reader who’s into ninjas.

What’s a Christmas story without pirates?

The Gingerbread Pirates

Written by Kristin Kladstrup

Illustrated by Matt Tavares

0763632236The Gingerbread Pirates caught my eye on the shelf right away. The words themselves on the cover are done in a gold foil, and the gingerbread pirates are adorable.

Jim and his mother make gingerbread men for Christmas, and decorate a few like pirates. The captain captures Jim’s imagination, and he decides that Captain Cookie is too good to eat. In the middle of the night, Captain Cookie meets the big man himself, and Jim finds a wonderful surprise under the tree on Christmas day.

Best line:

“Must be that cannibal. Santa Claus,” said Captain Cookie. “We’ve got to get out of here before he eats us.”

Overall: Sweet and silly. It reminded me of the magic and awe of Christmas when I was little. Plus, it had pirates, and pirates are awesome.

Zombies love Christmas too.

Zombelina Dances the Nutcracker

Written by Kristyn Crow

Illustrated by Molly Idle


After binge watching iZombie and ZNation, there was no way that I wasn’t going to pick up a Christmas story called Zombelina Dances the Nutcracker.

Zombelina loves to dance. She is excited to audition for the role of Clara in the Nutcracker. She meets many new friends in ballet class, and together they make the show a success.

Best Line:

“At times everyone needs a leg up,” I say. “My limbs have a life of their own, anyway.”

Overall: This punny story celebrates diversity and is ultimately about friendship. The zombie spin combines Halloween and Christmas seamlessly. You’ll die for this charming yarn.

I am definitely going to enjoy reading these books with my nieces and nephews this holiday season.

Feel free to add any offbeat Christmas stories that you know of to the Writers’ Rumpus.


  1. Alison, these books look like such fun! They are refreshingly creative takes on the holiday, so thanks for posting about them. I too buy lots of books for kids at Christmas because books are little packages of cook ideas that help brains grow. Often I can’t resist buying some for myself. And every year my husband gives me four or five picture books for Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

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