Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December 24

Christmas Eve! And we have come to our last book.

First, December 23:

I've Seen Santa! 
by David Bedford
illustrated by Tim Warnes

Little Bear and his parents camp out by the tree to see Santa. Can they stay awake long enough? Can they keep their paws off the blueberry pies they made for him? This is a cute story illustrating a very common Christmas theme: a child who can't sleep and all the ways they try to "catch" Santa in the act.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
by Susan Wojciechowski
illustrated by P. J. Lynch

This contemporary classic (pub. 1995) is my number one favorite holiday story, and just by chance, it was our special Christmas Eve book. (I didn't manipulate the Advent book unwrapping! I swear!)
While my preschoolers had a hard time sitting through it all at once (it would be better in two sittings, as it is a bit long), it is well worth the read. From the book jacket: "One day in early winter the widow McDowell comes to call on the woodcarver. A quiet request leads to a joyful miracle as the widow and her son gently warm the sad heart of Jonathan Toomey."

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 22

The Polar Express
by Chris Van Allsburg

Chris Van Allsburg is the master of mysterious realities. This beloved classic speaks poignantly to readers of all ages and reminds us to look for the honest, the generous, and the miraculous in life.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

December 21

Bob and 6 more Christmas stories
by Sandra Boynton

I have yet to find a Sandra Boynton book that doesn't make me smile. Her lovable characters and witty rhymes make magic in every book. This collection of seven (very) short stories is a winner, from "Bob", the tiny reindeer, to "Wake Up!", with its spot-on Christmas morning reaction. Enjoy!

Friday, December 20, 2013

December 20

Frosty the Snowman
by Annie North Bedford
illustrated by Corinne Malvern

This is the classic 1950 Little Golden Book. Yes, it's an icon, but I have to say, I don't care for the ending in this version. Frosty's melting is very abrupt and a bit disturbing. But who am I to question a classic?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

December 19

Oops! I forgot to post on December 18. It's not like it's a busy time of year or anything :) So here are two for the price of one:

December 18

The Trees of the Dancing Goats
by Patricia Polacco

This gorgeous book knits Christian and Jewish holiday traditions together as neighbor helps neighbor through a crisis. It is the embodiment of Christmas Spirit.

The Animals' Christmas Eve
by Gale Wiersum
illustrated by Alex Steele Morgan

In this quiet rhyming book, the animals in the barn retell the story of Jesus' birth. This classic Little Golden Book has been given a new look and still withstands the test of time.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December 17

The Littles Have a Merry Christmas
based on the books by John Peterson
illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers

This first reader is based on the classic chapter book The Littles and the Trash Tinies, by John Peterson. As with most stories that have been adapted to early readers, this story lacks nuance, but the boys thoroughly enjoyed the fantasy of little people with tails who use socks as sleeping bags and bathtubs as skating rinks. It will be fun to share the chapter books with them in a couple of years!

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16

Night Tree
by Eve Bunting
illustrated by Ted Rand

Family traditions are so important. They instill culture, values, and meaning to our lives, binding us together with our parents and siblings. The family in this lovely book always spends Christmas Eve with "their tree", in the woods at the edge of town. They decorate the tree with edibles for the woodland creatures, such as strings of popcorn, apple ornaments, and sunflower seed balls. Even though it is cold and dark, the family sits on a blanket admiring the tree, drinking hot chocolate, and singing carols. It is a humble and quiet tradition, in the midst of the typical Christmas hustle and bustle. Beautiful.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 15

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad
by Mercer Mayer

When I was a kid, my brother and I would listen to this book on a tape. The grasshopper noise indicated page turns and there were sound effects in addition to the text. The page where he gets tangled up in the lights always scared us because the music was menacing! Oh, the memories… Little Critter's antics are spot-on, as far as preschooler behavior goes. Even though he is exasperating and makes a mess, his intentions are good, making him all the more lovable!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

December 14

First, before I share the Advent book my boys unwrapped today, I need to share this book:

Snowflakes Fall
by Patricia MacLachlan
illustrated by Steven Kellogg

Steven Kellogg, who lived in the Newtown, CT area for thirty-five years, was deeply saddened for his community after the tragic school shooting one year ago today. In tribute, he collaborated with Patricia MacLachlan to create a book that "celebrates the laughter, the playful high spirits, and the uniqueness of the children of Sandy Hook and of children everywhere." There is such comforting beauty in using snowflakes as a metaphor for each unique life.
Book Trailer

Now for the Advent book:

illustrated by Fiona French
text from Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible, Catholic Edition

Gloriously illustrated with stained-glass inspired artwork, this visual rendition of the Christmas Story is a true celebration of the reason for the season.

Friday, December 13, 2013

December 13

The Christmas Wish
by Lori Evert
photographs by Per Breiehagen

[from book jacket]

This is the story of Anja, both brave and kind, who sets out on an adventure to make her dream of helping Santa Claus come true.

Who will help her?

All the animals she meets, from a bright cardinal to a strong horse to a gentle polar bear.

This husband-and-wife team … have created a classic Nordic story illustrated with breath-taking photos (starring their daughter, Anja) that will have readers of all ages believing.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

December 12

The Night Before Christmas
by Clement C. Moore
illustrated by Mary Engelbreit

What is there to say about this Christmas classic? The boys and I really enjoyed exploring the whimsical illustrations of this version.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 11

God Gave Us Christmas
by Lisa Tawn Bergren
illustrated by David Hohn

When Little Cub asks who invented Christmas, Mama suggests a journey to find God because "Santa is hard to find … (but) God is everywhere." Through the wonders of the Northern Lights, glaciers, and unexpected natural wonders, Mama tenderly shows Little Cub God at work. This book also gently addresses a child's questions about Santa: "Santa Claus reminds us about many good things like generosity and care. But it is God and Jesus that we celebrate most come Christmas."

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December 10

A Christmas Like Helen's
by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
illustrated by Mary Azarian

Using the repetitive phrase, "To have a Christmas like Helen's, …", this book transports the reader to a time of horse-drawn sleighs, one-room schoolhouses, and stories by the fire. This lovely glimpse into Vermont country life is a tribute to the author's grandmother. One of my favorites!

Monday, December 9, 2013

December 9

Caleb Crosses the Country: A Camel's Tale (God Can Use Me Series)
by Dan Taylor & Damon J. Taylor
illustrated by Damon J. Taylor

Caleb the Camel is afraid of change. He likes his stall and doesn't want to cross a desert. But when a Wise Man chooses him, Caleb has to face his fears. This story is a bit didactic, but the boys enjoyed learning about camels and how they are built to cross deserts. They also liked looking for the star in the sky on each page and talking about that part of the Christmas story.

Holiday Contest Entry

The Task: Write a Children's Story about a Holiday Mishap

Enjoy all the entries HERE!
Then go back to VOTE Monday, December 16-18.

by Laura Renauld

This is the tree that Jill trimmed.

This is the star that shone from the tree that Jill trimmed.

This is the cat that swatted the star
That shone from the tree that Jill trimmed.

This is the dog that leapt at the cat
That swatted the star that shone from the tree that Jill trimmed.

This is the boy that chased the dog
That leapt at the cat that swatted the star
That shone from the tree that Jill trimmed.

This is the twin with the mischievous grin
That tripped the boy that chased the dog
That leapt at the cat that swatted the star
That shone from the tree that Jill trimmed.

This is the Mom with patience so thin
That scolded the twin with the mischievous grin
That tripped the boy that chased the dog
That leapt at the cat that swatted the star
That shone from the tree that Jill trimmed.

This is the Dad with the dimpled chin
That soothed the Mom with patience so thin
That scolded the twin with the mischievous grin
That tripped the boy that chased the dog
That leapt at the cat that swatted the star
That shone from the tree that Jill trimmed.

This is the house full of holiday din
That cheered the Dad with the dimpled chin
That soothed the Mom with patience so thin
That scolded the twin with the mischievous grin
That tripped the boy that chased the dog
That leapt at the cat that swatted the star
That shone from the tree that Jill trimmed.

These are the memories created within
That warmed the house full of holiday din
That cheered the Dad with the dimpled chin
That soothed the Mom with patience so thin
That scolded the twin with the mischievous grin
That tripped the boy that chased the dog
That leapt at the cat that swatted the star
That shone from the tree that Jill trimmed.

(324 words)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

December 8

Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale
by Martin Waddell
illustrated by Jason Cockcroft

Echoing the sentiment of Isaiah 11:6, "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb...", this peaceful story is led by Kind Ox and her gentle refrain: "There's always room for a little one here." She invites Old Dog, Stray Cat, and Small Mouse to rest in the stable, each returning her kindness by making the others feel at ease. Finally, Tired Donkey arrives and the animals welcome Jesus: "…a Little One came for the world."

Saturday, December 7, 2013

December 7

The Christmas Story
illustrated by Tara Larsen Chang

This book should actually be called "The Friendly Beasts", as it is the lyrics of the lullaby-like Christmas song. But, hey, for a dollar bin find last year, this is a good one. The illustrations are lovely and this is one of my favorite carols!

Friday, December 6, 2013

December 6

Peppa Pig and the Lost Christmas List
based on the U.K. TV series Peppa Pig

The boys were introduced to Peppa Pig by friends in N. Ireland. Peppa saves Christmas, of course!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

December 5

How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?
by Jane Yolen
illustrated by Mark Teague

A holiday edition of the popular Dinosaur series, full of hypothetical dinosaur antics, like eating Santa's cookies and dumping out the stockings, followed by all the helpful and festive actions that the dinosaurs ACTUALLY do. Cleverly illustrated with less commonly known dinosaurs. Can you find the name of each somewhere in the illustrations?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December 4

The Littlest Christmas Tree
by R.A. Herman
illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers

Reminiscent of a 'Charlie Brown tree', the Littlest Christmas Tree is the smallest on the lot and keeps getting overlooked. When it hasn't found a home by Christmas Eve, it looks like the tree's dreams of becoming a Christmas Tree will be dashed. My youngest was delighted to discover that the boy in the story shares his name!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 3

by Eve Bunting
illustrated by David Diaz

This is one of my favorite Christmas books. It is not an easy read, content-wise, as it is about a homeless mother and son. But it is an excellent springboard for a discussion with kids about those who have enough and those who don't. It is also a beautiful story of selfless love, hospitality, and generosity.

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2

December 2 -

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
By Dr. Seuss

Classic! This is the first year both boys have been able to sit through the whole story together. I was so happy to share this one with them. Now I need to show them the cartoon version, which is nearly identical to the book. A must-read AND a must-see!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A New Advent Tradition

Since my boys were babies, I've been thinking about Advent calendars. I wanted something unique, something fun, and something that would become a tradition. This year, thanks to a friend, I've found it. (Here's the post.)


24, to be exact. Wrapped and piled under the tree, to be opened with delight each day of Advent. Complete with snuggle time and kisses (real and Hershey's). I don't know who is more excited: me or my kids!

If I can keep up, I will post the daily reveal here on my blog. There is quite a variety. Some are silly, some are classics. Some share the biblical Christmas Story. Others are heartwarming, or even tear-jerking (at least for me, if not my 4 1/2 and 3 year olds.)

What are you passionate about? What are your kids interests? Perhaps you can find a way to weave those things into a new family tradition for you. During Advent, or anytime of year!


December 1 -
10 Trim-the-Tree'ers: A Holiday Counting Book
by Janet Schulman
illustrated by Linda Davick
This lively, rhyming concept book follows ten children as they decorate the tree in the lobby of their apartment building. The boys had fun finding and counting the ornaments.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I am thankful for…

I am thankful for creativity and the stories that surface from inspiration and hard work. Check out these fabulous picture books about WRITING!

Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by Roni Schotter; illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker - A series of eclectic characters give Eva writing advice on 90th Street: observe, use words in a new way, imagine, add action. She discovers that things really do happen on 90th Street!

S is for Story: A Writer's Alphabet by Esther Hershenhorn; illustrated by Zachary Pullen - Now there is an alphabet book for writers of all ages. Each letter describes a component of writing in a short rhyme. The facing page includes expository text to elaborate. "Y is for Your Story,/ yours to live and grow,/ of all you do,/ and where you've been/ and where you hope to go."

Aunt Isabel Tells A Good One by Kate Duke - In this collaborative tale, Aunt Isabelle encourages her niece to come up with the details of a good story, starting with Where and When and prompting her with questions along the way. An excellent example of story writing demonstrated within a story!

The Plot Chickens by Mary Jane and Herm Auch - "One day Henrietta said, 'Reading books is so much fun. Writing books must be eggshilarating.'" Filled with puns in text and illustration, this clever story on writing a story offers up writing rules in the setting of an opinionated henhouse. Henrietta's manuscript, "The Perils of Maxine," is typed in full on the final page.

The Little "READ" Hen by Dianne de Las Casas; illustrated by Holly Stone-Barker - In this creative writing version of The Little Red Hen, Little "Read" asks for help brainstorming, researching, outlining, drafting, editing, and proofing. Of course, her friends won't help. Will she keep the story to herself?

Little Red Writing by Joan Holub; illustrated by Melissa Sweet - "Once upon a time in pencil school, a teacher named Ms. 2 told her class, 'Today we're going to write a story.' 'Yippee!' said the birthday pencil. 'Slammin.' said the basketball pencil. 'Sharp! said Little Red." Little Red wants to go on a journey to write a story about bravery. Her teacher gives her some advice: "Stick to your basic story path so you don't get lost." Along the way, Red meets action words, adjectives, conjunction glue, adverbs, and an especially fearsome foe. Finally, her story is finished: "Once there was a brave red pencil…"