Gnomes, elves and a snowy play scene star in these frosty new tales for kids that will make reading fun all year long.

Game of Gnomes

By Kirsten Mayer; illustrated by Laura K. Horton; Imprint/Macmillan; 34 pages; $16.99

With the Winter Olympics coming up, Kirsten Mayer’s zesty story about a competitive red-haired gnome named Ginger should interest youngsters in cold-weather sports.

In Game of Gnomes, Ginger enters the Winter Gnome Games and is thrilled until the crowd chants, “Go, Red!” Ginger then frowns and says, “That’s not my name.” She is a little offbeat: She plays hockey with a curling stone, whizzes too fast for the figure skating competition and ends up disqualified from sledding because she stands up (like snowboarding).

Ginger still wins the “Best All-Around Gnomework” prize for a search-and-rescue mission and is finally cheered for something other than her red hair.

Any child known for one feature or trait will enjoy hearing about how Ginger overcomes that bias. Everyone will love the funny whimsy in Game of Gnomes.

Elf in the House

By Ammi-Joan Paquette; illustrated by Adam Record; Candlewick Press; 32 pages; $15.99

With a rounded elf that looks nearly like the popular elves on the shelves, Ammi-Joan Paquette’s happy journey through a little girl’s Christmas Eve house introduces visitors one by one, from a squeaky mouse to a giggling elf to a clip-clopping reindeer to Santa, who ho-ho-hos like he should. The friends have their own party, as they are excited the next day is Christmas.

A brief and colorful ode to elves and all the zippy fun Christmas brings, Elf in the House should win hearts.

Snow Scene

By Richard Jackson; pictures by Laura Vaccaro Seeger; Roaring Brook Press; 36 pages; $17.99

Beginning with a question — “What are these?” — and a watercolor-looking background that’s muted and tactile, Snow Scene introduces close-up wintry details. The answer to the first question is snow-covered trees. Other scenes feature shadows and crows, and even a boy’s red ear and a girl’s frosty hair.

The point is for kids to notice the little things and all the crisp beauty around them in the wintertime. Soon, though, “It’s April, and the things to see are incredibly different, but still gorgeous.”

Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s acrylic paintings are lovingly artsy, and the whole book is a feast for sights.

The 12 Sleighs of Christmas

By Sherri Duskey Rinker; illustrated by Jake Parker; Chronicle Books; 32 pages; $16.99

With The 12 Sleighs of Christmas, Sherri Duskey Rinker’s fast-moving picture book, the author of another fun vehicle tale, Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, takes Santa’s elves’ imaginations on a wild ride. When they discover his sleigh is a mess, they envision sleighs of all kinds, from motorcycles to zeppelins to big rigs and more.

With rhyming text and detailed illustrations to thrill car and truck fans, The 12 Sleighs of Christmas is a must-read-aloud for active kids.

Danny and the Dinosaur: A Very Dino Christmas

By Syd Hoff; illustrated by Syd Hoff and David Cutting; HarperCollins; 36 pages; $6.99

On the affordable end of the spectrum, a new but vintage tale, Danny and the Dinosaur: A Very Dino Christmas, stars Danny and his friendly dinosaur as they celebrate Christmas dino style.

With illustrations by Syd Hoff, the super fun tale also includes eight sturdy tear-out holiday cards, lots of stickers and a cool poster of a holiday scene with boy and dinosaur.

— Lee Littlewood writes the Kids’ Home Library column for Creators. The San Diego wife and mom’s pure love of children’s literature helps her stay interested in words and pictures meant for tots to teens. Click here to contact her, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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