Wednesday, December 30, 2009

December Mini-reviews

If you've never seen one of my Mini-review features, here's the synopsis: Reviews are of books that have already been reviewed about a million times by other bloggers and/or titles that I just don't have a whole lot to say about. Good or bad. Enjoy!
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

I listened to this one on my drive back from NY. I know, I know, I'm the last person in the world to pick up this wonderful fantasy, but I've now accomplished that and am sooo excited for the Cybils season to be over so I can happily devour the rest of the books in the serious. Completely engrossing and beautifully written. A piece of magic in book form!
Ooh and if you're going to listen to it, make sure you pick up the full-cast audio, it's fantastic!



The Goose Girl
400 pages
Young Adult
Bloomsbury
9781582349909
April 2005
Audiobook borrowed from my local library

Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia

This book just recently won the National Book Award, of which totally deserving. I loved the ethical dilemma at the focus of the plot and the strong voices that came out of all of the characters. Some will annoy you, others you'll feel sorry for, but all of them are strong and beautifully written. It's a page turner and one to open up discussions with teens.

Jumped
176 pages
Young Adult
Amistad
9780060760915
February 2009
Borrowed from my local library

Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Now this is a novel about overlooking differences. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I was pretty impressed with  I cannot imagine having my hands replaced with hooks, especially during high school, but the author truly helps the reader to live this experience. I loved the alternating characters for this particular story, as it helped to really expand on how both Lucias and Aurora were dealing with the romance forming between them. A good read for those that enjoy fairy tale retellings or just enjoy a good romance.

I read this one for the Cybils.

Crazy Beautiful
208 pages
Young Adult
Houghton Mifflin
9780547223070
September 2009
Review copy received from publisher

Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

Cheerful, fun, and totally Christmas-spirit inducing. My favorite story was probably Jubilee Express, though I did really enjoy them all. Sweet without being mushy and, at times, completely laugh-out-loud funny, and a really nice book to make a tradition out of. I'll probably be reading this each December and can see myself loving it even more each year!



Let It Snow
368 pages
Young Adult
Speak
9780142414996
October 2009
Book is my own copy

 Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor 


Yep, definitely loved this one. I've only read about 40 reviews of this one over the last few months, all telling me how fabulous it was and they were all right. Illustrations, done by Jim Di Bartolo, were striking and added to the creepiness of all the stories. It's one of those books that will keep you up late at night reading...and then you'll want to leave a light on when it's time to go to sleep. 



Lips Touch: Three Times
272 pages
Young Adult
Arthur A. Levine 
9780545055857
October 2009
Review copy received from publisher

To learn more about any of these books, or to purchase, click on the book covers above to link to Amazon. I'm an Associate and will receive a tiny commission for your purchase. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Nasreen's Secret School review

Jacket description:
"Young Nasreen has not spoken a word to anyone since her parents disappeared. 


In despair, her grandmother risks everything to enroll Nasreen in a secret school for girls. Will a devoted teacher, a new friend, and the worlds she discovers in books be enough to draw Nasreen out of sadness?"

This awesome book, based on a true story from Afghanistan, begins with an author's note, filled with facts on living life under the rule of the Taliban. Some background on the Global Fund for Children, the organization responsible for the idea of the book, is also included. This organization is "committed to advancing the dignity of children and youth around the world. The Global Fund for Children pursues its mission by making small grants to innovative community-based organizations working with some of the world's most vulnerable children and youth.

I loved that the story of Nasreen was told by her grandmother. An obviously courageous woman, she took the step to send her granddaughter to a secret school, simply to turn her sadness at losing her parents into hope, never realizing how much Nasreen would learn and grow from the experience.
The plot and the illustrations go very nicely together, brimming with a simplicity that is necessary for this type of story. Children can learn about a different part of the world, one where children are not necessarily free to go to school as we are in this country, opening up a platform for discussion of many different topics. It's hard to talk about war to a group of young children, but using Nasreen's story may be a nice starting point.

I really enjoy books put out by Global Fund for Children, not only because they are quality, educational stories, but also because I feel we all need to know what is going on around our world. All of us. Not just the adults. Children need to know that if they lived in Afghanistan and were female, they very well may be in Nasreen's situation. School is not always a given.


Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan
Jeanette Winter
40 pages
Picture Book
Beach Lane Books
9781416994374
October 2009
Review copy received from publisher


To learn more, or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a small commission for your purchase. Thank you!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Some Christmas bliss

My small little family had a wonderful Christmas day! Sleeping in a bit, opening the gifts we blessed each other with, and watching our "kids" enjoy their doggie loot.

Though my husband is like a lot of yours and doesn't really like to buy me books (I guess he thinks he wouldn't know what to get me or something crazy like that), but he scored big time points when he gave me both Always by Alison McGhee (a picture book of a dog that does everything to protect his family. SO cute) and Second Chances by Elise Rufkin. I have a thing for rescue dogs, can you tell?

Overall, a wonderful day, very relaxing and quiet.





Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to all of my readers!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday, beautiful celebration with your families, and safe travels to and from your destinations the next couple of days. I am hunkering down with my hubby, my doggies, and my books for the weekend and may or may not be around with reviews, so if not, I'll see you Monday with a weekend write-up.

Again, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and much love to you all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Far From You (YA review)

Jacket description:
"Years have passed since Alice lost her mother to cancer, but time hasn't quite healed the wound. Alice copes the best she can by writing her music, losing herself in her love for her boyfriend, and distancing herself from her father and his new wife.

But when a deadly snowstorm traps Alice with her stepmother and newborn half sister, she'll face issues she's been avoiding for too long. As Alice looks to the heavens for guidance, she discovers something wonderful.


Perhaps she's not so alone after all..."

A novel in verse by Lisa Schroeder, this one isn't quite as dark and dismal as the description makes it sounds. Alice is a girl suffering from terrible grief after losing her mother, as well as feeling replaced by a stepmother. She's not entirely sure how to work through all these feelings, but tries, through song-writing, going to church, and spending time with her amazing boyfriend. Still, all is not well. Alice has an attitude, a chip on her shoulder, and a broken heart. Depressing, yes, but written very well.

I loved how honest the writing felt and the pure emotion that came from Alice as a character. I was a bit put off by Blaze (the boyfriend) in the beginning, especially being the fact that his name is BLAZE, but I was pleasantly surprised by how he turned out. Their relationship was believable and maybe will help to inspire some teen girls to wait for the right boy to come along before giving her heart over to someone.

Alice's situation with the snowstorm is terrifying and had me frantically turning pages to find out what happened. Things certainly tie up in a neat little bow at the end, which was a bit annoying (too perfect maybe?), but overall I really enjoyed the plot. Loved the cover too. The paperback cover is not nearly as beautiful, but here it is in case you're interested:





I read this one for the Cybil Awards.

Far From You
Lisa Shroeder
368 pages
Young Adult
Simon Pulse
9781416975069
December 2008
Review copy received from publisher for Cybil's review


To learn more, or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a tiny commission for your purchase. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lots of snow and a challenge wrap-up

If you have been following any of us bloggers and Tweeters, this past week, you know the Virginia and D.C. area got slammed with a huge snowstorm. I live about 20 miles southwest of the city and we recorded a bit over 2 feet of snow at our house, which apparently, is crazy for Virginia. We are still thinking the realtor lied to us when she said "6 inches is a lot...and we rarely get that!" So much for that!


So my dog Shae, thought the snow was the greatest thing in the world, racing through at fast as she possibly could, dunking her nose down in it, eating, trying to catch the flakes in her mouth, etc. Pretty hilarious. Our English bulldog, Zoey, on the other hand, didn't care for it at all. She's a bit prissy, not liking her feet wet, not to mention the snow was well above her head. We had to shovel a path for the poor dog to go to the bathroom.

And Aaron and I lovvvved it. For about 48 hours. Then the past 4 years living in New Mexico started coming back to us, with the quick realization that we never even needed to own a snow shovel,  snow boots, or winter coats, let alone consider investing in a snow blower! I'm ready for it all to go away now and April to get here.


 Moving on...

Back in September I joined the Fall Into Reading Challenge hosted by Katrina over at Callapidder Days. Did I finish? Nope. It's that little thing called The Cybil Awards that get in the way of my free reading. Oh well, it was fun!

1. Goth Girl Rising by Barry Lyga
2. Hold Still by Nina LaCour
3. Splendor: A Luxe Novel by Anna Godbersen
4. The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
5. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
6. Liar by Justine Labalestier
7. A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell
8. Hate List by Jennifer Brown
9. Karma for Beginners by Jessica Blank
10. Notes from the Dog by Gary Paulsen

Alternates:

After the Moment by Garret Freymann-Weyr
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A.J. Jacobs

This is probably the one challenge I'll actually join next year. It's simple, you can change your titles as you go along (though I didn't), there are prizes, and it's completely pressure free.

DiTerlizzi for toddlers?

Maybe you all are already aware of these new books out by Tony DiTerlizzi (of Spiderwick Chronicles fame) and his wife Angela, but I was pretty much in the dark until just a couple weeks ago. I'm not entirely sure this new series for toddlers could be any farther from the previous work we've seen from Mr. DiTerlizzi or not, and though, they're a bit strange, I really think toddlers are going to get a huge kick out of Meno and his friends.

The two books I've seen, Big Fun and Wet Friend, are both done in the same simple manner. Illustration on one side of the page spread, simple text on the other. Not more than a very short sentence. Even early readers will be able to pick out sounds and spell out words, and of course, Meno and his antics are pretty funny, so laughter is a given!
Adults may find the elf-from-space thing kinda weird, but hand this to a 3-6 year old and they'll have a blast. The back of the book includes a glossary of "Meno-speak" and a section on how to pronounce certain words (I especially liked the pronunciation of David Hasselhoff).

Overall, these books aren't going to be everyone's cup of tea, but that being said, I really think the kids are going to love them. I see them as a mixture of Pokemon and Yo Gabba Gabba, which is good or bad, depending on your perspective. Give them a try, if not to let your early readers giggle and practice at the same time, but also to check out something new from the king of the Spiderwick books!


Adventure of Meno, Big Fun and Wet Friend
Tony and Angela DiTerlizzi
32 pages
Simon & Schuster
9781416971481
9781416971498
October 2009
Review copy received from TbbMedia


To learn more, or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a tiny commission from your purchase. Thanks!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Non-Fiction Monday: Picture Book Biographies

Seriously, this was the season for biographies! I was flipping through my review shelves, trying to figure out what to post for this week's Non-Fiction Monday and realized I had 6 picture book biographies, waiting for some attention. I figured I could share them all with you best, just by doing some short reviews of each. Enjoy!

The Goose Man: The Story of Konrad Lorenz, written and illustrated by Elaine Greenstein

"This is the true story of a boy who loved animals and grew up to be a man who love to learn about animals. He learned so much from studying geese that he became a famous scientist, and he shared his knowledge with the world."

Ok, so Konrad Lorenz was an odd man. And I'm not saying that flippantly, truly Lorenz was slightly odd, believing he understood the language of geese, even going so far as to "know what to hiss back" when annoyed geese parents were hissing at him. And maybe he did! He did, after all,  win the Nobel Prize in 1973.

Animal lovers and budding scientists will get a lot out of this book, especially those fascinated with birds. I wasn't too into the illustrations, but that's just a personal preference.


The Goose Man: The Story of Konrad Lorenz
Elaine Greenstein
32 pages
Non-Fiction Picture Book
Clarion Books
9780547084596
January 2010
Review copy received from publisher

Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson by Sharon Robinson, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

"When Jackie Robinson moves his family from New York City to Connecticut, the beautiful lake on their property is the center of everyone's fun. The neighborhood children join the Robinson kids for swimming and boating. But oddly, Jackie never goes near the water.


In a dramatic episode that first winter, Jackie is called upon to test the ice on the lake to make sure it's safe for ice-skating. But why, Sharon wonders, is he always so afraid to go near the water?"

I was lucky enough to Sharon Robinson and Kadir Nelson speak about this book at the National Book Festival in September, making the experience in reading it even better. Between the amazing history infused with family relationships and the absolutely awesome work of Kadir Nelson, this book is a must-have.

It was so nice to read a book that incorporated so many different aspects. You get a little baseball, a little African-American history, and a little bit about overcoming your fears. The author's note is really nice too. And goodness, you could stare at Kadir Nelson's work all day (about as long as you could stare at cutie Kadir Nelson!).

Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson
Sharon Robinson
40 pages
Non-Fiction Picture Book
Scholastic Press
9780545052511
October 2009
Review copy received from publisher


Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story, written by Paula Yoo and illustrated by Lin Wang

"Born in 1905, Anna may Wong spent her childhood working in her family's laundry in Los Angeles's Chinatown. Whenever she could afford it, Anna May slipped off to the movies, escaping to a world of adventure, glamour, and excitement. After seeing a film being shot in her neighborhood, young Anna May was hooked. She decided she would become a movie star.


Anna May struggled to pursue an acting career in Hollywood in the 1930s. There were very few roles for Asian Americans, and many were demeaning and stereotypical. Anna May made the most of each limited part. She worked hard and always gave her best performance. Finally, after years of unfulfilling roles, Anna May began crusading for more meaningful roles for herself and other Asian American actors."

This one was really delightful to read! I hang my head as I admit that I had never heard of Anna May Wong, but Yoo did an awesome job at portraying this young woman and definitely peaked my interest into learning more about her.

From her childhood dreams of becoming an actress to the roles she actually stared in, Wong was determined to do her best. The author's note, with an actual photo of Wong, shed even more light on this woman that just had a spark in her eyes. She came from a hard-working family, working in her father's laundry, and became this beautiful star of movies. Quite the story!

I'm going to have to dig up some of her movies to actually watch in her action. Budding actors and actresses should definitely pick this one up. Dreams can come true!

Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story
Paula Yoo
32 pages
Non-Fiction Picture Book
Lee & Low Books
9781600602597
May 2009
Review copy received from publisher

It's a Snap! George Eastman's First Photograph, written by Monica Kulling, illustrated by Bill Slavin

"George Eastman had a new hobby: photography. The year was 1877, and photography was not as easy as you might think. It cost a lot and the equipment was bulky, but George was about to change all that. What he lacked in formal education, George more than made up for in ingenuity: he invented dry plates, film, and the Brownie camera! The rest is history."

George Eastman lived in Rochester, NY, not far from where I grew up, so his story gets a special place in my heart!

Nobody really believed George could succeed at photography, especially because he left school at age 14. Perserverance definitely paid off for him, as he continued to work, determined to make taking photos easier for every day people. He truly changed the way memories were made. And when his inventions made him rich, he made sure to give back to his community, first building a low-cost dental clinic. Pretty nice!

This is a great book to show kids that we didn't always have digital cameras. A nice introduction to a photography unit for younger children.

It's a Snap! George Eastman's First Photograph
Monica Kulling
32 pages
Non-Fiction Picture Book
Tundra Books
9780887768811
August 2009
Review copy received from publisher


In the Belly of an Ox: The Unexpected Photographic Adventures of Richard and Cherry Kearton, written and illustrated by Rebecca Bond

"They would have to be sneaky and clever. They would need veils and disguises. And they would probably have to endure hunger and thirst, insect stings, and rainstorms, and wade through bogs and rope down precipitous cliffs.


But, if the brothers succeeded, they would accomplish something no one ever had before."

Another photography book for you.  And such a fun one...adventurous! These brothers figured out how to best photograph birds, immersing themselves into the bird habitats by designing and building "hides." These camouflaged methods of hiding themselves away from the sight of the animals, some amazing photos were taken, some of which are showcased in the back of the book.

This one was pretty impressive. It was definitely not a story I had heard of before, but their methods are so cool! You could use this book to start all sorts of projects, encouraging your students or children to build their own hides and photograph animals in their environment. Could be a lot of fun!

In the Belly of an Ox: The Unexpected Photographic Adventures of Richard and Cherry Kearton
Rebecca Bond
32 pages
Non-Fiction Picture Book
Houghton Mifflin
9780547076751
November 2009
Review copy received from publisher

Cromwell Dixon's Sky-Cycle, written and illustrated by John Abbott Nez

"The beginning of the twentieth century was a golden age of invention. The electric lightbulb, skyscrapers, and automobiles changed the world forever, but nothing was quite so dramatic as humans' newfound ability to fly.


In the years that followed the Wright brothers' famous flight, countless people caught the fever, and one young boy, Cromwell Dixon, was no different. Cromwell hatched a plan to create an amazing flying bicycle and chased his dream with determination and imagination. In 1907, at the age of fourteen, Cromwell mounted the Sky-Cycle that he had designed and built with the help of his mother, and he flew off into the sky."

This was my favorite read of the day. I loved reading about a young boy with a creative imagination that really wanted to acheive something great, if a bit silly. He worked towards the impossible and indeed succeeded! And seriously, who would have thought to fly a bike?? But it's fun!
I loved the illustrations and the hilarious expressions on some of the characters faces. 

From dreaming about flying things to actually building a flying machine in his backyard, Cromwell Dixon certainly knew what he wanted. Read this one to your imaginative kids and see what you can get them to dream about inventing. Have them draw pictures of what they would like to invent!


Cromwell Dixon's Sky-Cycle
John Abbott Nez
32 pages
Non-Fiction Picture Book
Putnam Juvenile
9780399250415
May 2009
Review copy received from publisher

Thanks for sticking with me through all of those! Hopefully you found something you could utilize in your library or classroom.

To learn more about any of these titles, or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a tiny commission for your purchase. Thanks!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Christmas Cookie Club review

Jacket description:"Mark your calendar. It's the Christmas Cookie Club! Every year on the first Monday of the month of December, Marnie and her twelve closest girlfriends gather in the evening with batches of beautifully wrapped homemade cookies. Everyone has to bring a dish, a bottle of wine, and their stories. This year, the stories are especially important. Marnie's oldest daughter has a risky pregnancy. Will she find our tonight how that story might end? Jeannie's father is having an affair with her best friend. Who else knew about the betrayal, and how can that be forgiven or forgotten, even among old friends such as these? Rosie's husband doesn't want children, and she has to decide, very soon, whether or not that's a deal breaker for the marriage. Taylor's life is in financial freefall. Each woman, each friend has a story to tell, and they are all interwoven, just as their lives are. 

On this evening, at least, they can feel as a group the impulses of sisterly love and conflict, the passion and hopefulness of a new romance, the betrayal and disillusionment some relationships bring, the joys and fears of motherhood, the agony of losing a child, and above all, the love they have for one another."

If you're in the mood for a light, quick holiday read, this is a great choice. Not a whole lot of depth and the characters just barely get into telling their personal stories before it's time to move onto the next woman's and a lot of the individual stories are somewhat cliche. But really...I didn't expect a fabulously written, deep, thought-provoking novel, I just wanted something light, fun and Christmasy, and that's exactly what I was given. I've been snowed in all weekend and enjoyed this for an afternoon.

I did love getting a cookie recipe at the beginning of each chapter, a few of which I plan to try out this week, and I really liked the inclusion of special chapters dedicated to the background of specific baking ingredients. We're given mini-chapters on flour, chocolate, almonds, among a bunch of others, including where they originated and who used them in the past. Author Ann Pearlman definitely did her research!

I'm totally sold on the idea of hosting a Christmas cookie club someday, if only for the cookies! I'm sure my friends would be up to it to, I would love to actually get a club together and have wine and cookies all night.

The Christmas Cookie Club: A Novel
Ann Pearlman
288 pages
Adult fiction
Atria
9781439158845
October 2009
Copy borrowed from my local library


To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a tiny commission from your purchase. Thanks!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Picture Book Saturday

No themes this week folks, just some random titles I've recently enjoyed!

After reading Red Ted and the Lost Things, written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Joel Stewart, it has instantly become one of my favorites. Reminiscent a bit of Corduroy (and who doesn't love that cute bear?!), poor Red Ted, the stuffed bear of a little girl, gets left on the train seat and put in "The Place of Lost Things."

Worried Stevie may never find him, Red Ted and some newfound pals set off to find her instead, the bear never wavering on his hope to find his best friend.
I loved every bit about this sweet story, from the whimsical illustrations to the "graphic storybook" style of writing. I was given a feeling of comfort while reading this, a smile constantly on my face. There's a lot of heart in such a short book. Rosen has done his thing!  This is definitely one to share with you family. A great bedtime book!

Having been published November 10th, it just may be my Cybil nomination for next year!

Red Ted and the Lost Things
Michael Rosen
40 pages
Picture Book
Candlewick
9780763645373
November 2009
Review copy received from publisher

Author Laura Numeroff, of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie fame, and illustrator Lynn Munsinger have created a super-cute flip-book style story in What Sisters Do Best/What Brothers Do Best.

One side is the "sister" story in which the reader learns all sorts of cool ways sister help out their siblings. From helping to complete a puzzle and pushing the swing, to playing pretend and taking you to the library. The flip side is brothers helping to do the exact same thing, just with different illustrations.

A very clever idea and a cute way to introduce siblings to ideas of sharing with each other, helping each other out, and becoming good role models for each. The illustrations were great...very cutesy, easy to keep a young one's attention.

This one would be great to give to a "new" older brother or sister that just had a baby come into their lives.  Plus, who doesn't a want more Numeroff books on their family shelves?! I'm still working on collecting the "If You Give a" series.

What Sisters Do Best/What Brothers Do Best
Laura Numeroff
44 pages
Picture Book
Chronicle Books
9780811865456
September 2009
Review copy received from publisher

I LOVE John Rocco's books, if only because the illustrations are so amazing (the books are good too, don't worry). His latest, Fu Finds the Way, is a great story to read to your young adventurer and can help to remind us all that being patient and careful in our tasks achieves the greatest result.

When a young boy is challenged to a duel by a scary warrior, he is determined to be trained by the Master in order to save his life. When the Master agrees, but begins teaching him in a very unconventional way, Fu is worried and frustrated. He soon learns that purpose, flow, and patience are the most important parts of any task, eventually helping him to win over the warrior.

Who knew pouring tea could be so powerful? The story is fantastic, again, great for that budding adventurer in your life, and wonderful for those interested in great art. Rocco is incredibly talented in his work, both story and art form, and I could really look at his pictures all day! Pay close attention to the Master's features....so beautiful!

I reviewed another Rocco book, Moonpowder, last November. That one is definitely worth checking out too!

Fu Finds the Way
John Rocco
40 pages
Picture Book
Hyperion
9781423109655
October 2009
Review copy received from publisher


To learn more about any of these titles, or to purchase, click on the book covers above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a tiny commission for your purchase.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Books Day 18: The Christmas Magic

Each day leading up to Christmas, I'm going to feature a Children's book that I've really enjoyed and would make a great choice to share with your family for the holidays. It may be one I've loved for years or one I've just recently found, but all would be great additions to your Christmas story list. Hopefully you'll find something to enjoy!

Jacket description:
"Far, far north, when the nights are the longest and the stars shine brightest, the spirit of Christmas fills the air with magic. Santa gathers his reindeer, feeds them parsnips and berries, and polishes his bells and his sled. Then, with great care, he chooses toys for every child in the world. For Santa loves them all dearly - and he knows what each child's heart desires most."

I've heard a lot of chatter about The Christmas Magic, written by Lauren Thompson and illustrated by Jon J. Muth. All good chatter, so when I checked it out for myself, I definitely wasn't disappointed.


There is an air of the magical throughout the book, building as each page is turned. If you have a child that still believes in Santa, this would be an awesome choice for a Christmas Eve read. Reading about Santa's simple preparations for his night out on the sleigh is a lot of fun.


This one will be sticking around my house until I have kids of my own to read it to. It's really does have a great feeling surrounding it, and with the soft illustrations it would make for a great night-before-Christmas read.


The Christmas Magic
Lauren Thompson
40 pages 
Picture Book
Scholastic
9780439774970
September 2009
Review copy received from publisher


To learn more, or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a tiny commission for your purchase. Thanks!

Some holiday giving and some receiving

I'm not sure if any of you out there in book-blogger-land take time to peruse blogs of other natures, but one of my absolute favorites, always guaranteed to get a hysterical bout of giggling out of me, is Cake Wrecks. They have a huge following and tons of fans all around the country. And this season, they've created an awesome way to give back to different charities, via us...their readers.

Each day, at the bottom of their typical Cake Wreck post, there is a short description of an organization that could use a charitable donation. They are only asking ONE DOLLAR from every reader, each day. You can choose just one charity to donate to and only give a dollar. Or you can donate as much money as you want. Or you can donate every day, etc. So many ways to give to so many cool organizations. So far, the featured charities have included:


Doctors Without Borders
Heifer International
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Charity Water
Child's Play
Share Our Strength
Puffy Paws Kitty Have

You can go back and donate to any/all of those or you can just follow each day from now on. 14 days total. Go to the Cake Wrecks Charity Countdown page to check it out! And make you you just check out the blog occasionally too...it's hilarious!

So that's my "giving" part of the post. My receiving part has to do with an awesome contest being hosted over at Bloggin' 'bout Books. Susan is giving away a book of your choice (with some restrictions of course) in honor of her 500th post! YAY for anniversaries and YAY for free books! SO head on over here and enter!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Books Day 17: Christmas Tree Memories

Each day leading up to Christmas, I'm going to feature a Children's book that I've really enjoyed and would make a great choice to share with your family for the holidays. It may be one I've loved for years or one I've just recently found, but all would be great additions to your Christmas story list. Hopefully you'll find something to enjoy!

Jacket description:
"It's Christmas Eve! Two children and their parents gather in the darkened pine-scented room, just as they do each year. There stands the Christmas tree, glowing with candles and laden with ornaments, many of which they have made and are unique.


A surge of memories envelops them at the sight of the tree. The family's voices intertwine us as they share remembrances of a family, friends, places, and events, recounting their own lives through the stories of each decoration."

Who doesn't live Aliki? And who doesn't love reminiscing each year about the different ornaments on your tree? Just a week ago, as I was going through a box of ornaments from my childhood, ones I had not seen for many years, I came across one I made when I was in first grade and I thought to myself "you know you were a child of the 80's when it was perfectly ok to make an ornament in school out of a disposable ashtray." How funny is that?? Gold, cheap metal ashtray, with my picture in the middle. hehe

It's memories like that, that build up Aliki's beautiful family story. Who needs bright and shiny, new ornaments, when the old, beaten, and sometimes ugly ones, have such great stories attached?


I love this as a family read aloud or for a storytime precursor to an ornament craft. Just don't use ashtrays!


Christmas Tree Memories
Aliki
30 pages
Picture Book
HarperCollins
9780060200077
September 1991
Copy borrowed from my local library

To learn more, or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a tiny commission from your purchase (though I believe this one is out of print). Thanks!

The Naming of Tishkin Silk (MG review)

Jacket description:
"Griffin Silk is an uncommon boy, from an uncommon sort of family - but lately Griffin isn't so sure that's a good thing. If he were an ordinary boy, he wouldn't have to worry about the secret in his heart and maybe he would understand why his mother and baby sister have gone away from home. When Griffin starts school and meets the spirited Princess Layla, a once-in-a-lifetime friend who can heal souls, the answers to his questions gently start to unfold. And just like the mythical beast whose name he bears, Griffin discovers that he has uncommon courage and the heart of a lion."
 
What a beautiful, beautiful story. I've never read anything by Glenda Millard before, though apparently the Silk family has a whole bunch of stories out there and you can certainly bet I'll be tracking them down.

Griffin Silk is exactly as described--an uncommon boy. But he is so wonderfully written and so emotional in every word he speaks, that you fall in love with him immediately. The story he has been written into is not an easy one in terms of subject matter, but the power of Griffin, Princess Layla, and the rest of the Silk family is unmatchable.

At first glance, this appears to be for the younger juvenile fiction kids, and the language used will certainly appeal to that age-set, be prepared for some tough questions once the reading is over. I would recommend reading and enjoying this as a family and dealing with the issues of death, separation, and guilt together. It is not a book to be missed.

My eyes still want to cry for this poor boy, even weeks after finishing the book, and the beautiful illustrations, done by Patrice Barton, are sticking with me too. Simple black and whites that truly capture the magic of this family. A must-have for libraries and home shelves. No need to have read the other books about the Silk family...I haven't and understood what was going on just fine.

The Naming of Tishkin Silk
Glenda Millard
112 pages
Middle Grade
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
9780374354817
October 2009
Review copy received from publisher


To learn more, or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a tiny commission from your purchase. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Books Day 16: The Spirit of Christmas

Each day leading up to Christmas, I'm going to feature a Children's book that I've really enjoyed and would make a great choice to share with your family for the holidays. It may be one I've loved for years or one I've just recently found, but all would be great additions to your Christmas story list. Hopefully you'll find something to enjoy!

Jacket description:
"Christmas is coming! Bells jingle, sleds dash through the snow, trees are topped with sparkling stars, and children everywhere dream of candy canes and presents. But the best gift of all- the most magical gift of the season- is when we spend Christmas with those we love."

Author Nancy Tillman truly wowed me with On the Night You Were Born, one we read every day to our son, Jacob, during his 4 month stay in the NICU. The Spirit of Christmas is just as beautifully written, focusing on the main reasons we should all be delighted to celebrate the holiday season, while still acknowledging the less complex.
Kids and adults alike look forward to hot cocoa, snowball fights, caroling, sledding, and gifts, but those are only part of what should be on our minds this season. The most important thing of all is spending time with those we love and remembering why we have a "Christmas" to begin with.
I loved the lyrics to popular carols intertwined within the illustrations, also done by Tillman and how the pictures have more to them than what your first glance gives you. A tree in a field filled with snow, is also a candy cane dripping peppermint candies. The birds flying outside the decorated home, have ornament bulbs hanging from their feet. See if you can find the face hidden in each illustration!

This has definitely become my newest "favorite" Christmas story!


The Spirit of Christmas
Nancy Tillman 
32 pages
Picture Book
Feiwel & Friends
9780312549657
September 2009
Copy borrowed from my library


To learn more, or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a tiny commission from your purchase. Thanks!

40 Loaves (Christian review)

Jacket description:
"There are many questions we're not supposed to ask when playing by the religious rules. It makes people uncomfortable. So why is it that Jesus invited questions and even asked some himself? What is it that you're afraid to ask God? It's a risky prospect to begin asking-but far riskier to continue simply trying to get by without knowing. Author C.D. Baker asked himself forty soul-searching questions, which started a conversation in his heart and ultimately showed him more about God than he ever expected.


Can we become more honest with who we really are and find who God says he really is at the same time? Come indulge yourself in daily readings with an honest exploration of your secret fears and thoughts, and know that you will always be welcomed in God's unconditional love."


Boy do I love me a good devotional. I have had a hard time finding a good balance between Scriptural teachings and real life examples, relying on a select few titles that I continue going back to. 40 Loaves: Breaking Bread with Our Father Each Day, written by C.D. Baker, was a really refreshing read, one that can be done over forty days and then looked back upon, or one that can be read straight through.

Baker really does ask God some pretty heavy questions. Why am I so afraid of death? Why do I care so much about my reputation? Why am I bored with church, the Bible, and Jesus? Really great, honest questions. And the readings that follow each question are not answers, they're just thoughts that we all think at times, but are often afraid to address in our talkings with God.Baker shares ideas and musings and advice of his own, but never tries to "answer" for God.

A prayer is included at the end of each reading, which I really liked. I'm one of those that has a really hard time putting my emotions and thoughts into a meaningful prayer, so Baker's prayers were a great jumping off point for me, allowing for a simple start, which I could then expand upon to fit my own thoughts. Very helpful. 

Overall, I was very impressed with this little book that held so much meaning for me personally. I'll be sharing it with friends and family, and have it in mind to buy for a friend struggling with her faith. A great "quick" read that definitely leaves you thinking, or a nice choice as a daily devotional. Mature Christians and new Christians alike can gain something from 40 Loaves

40 Loaves: Breaking Bread with Our Father Each Day
C.D. Baker
176 pages
Christian Non-Fiction
Waterbrook
9780307444905
October 2009
Review copy received from publisher

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a tiny commission for each purchase. Thanks!

You can also check out the book (or buy it if you so choose) at RandomHouse.com

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Same Difference (YA review)

Jacket description:
"The last thing sixteen-year-old Emily wants is to pool hop and tan her way through another summer in Cherry Grove. Now that her best friend has a boyfriend, everything feels...different in a way Emily doesn't quite understand. So when offered a spot at a prestigious art program in Philadelphia, Emily jumps at the chance to leave her hometown for a few hours a day. 

But it takes more than a change of scenery and a new group of friends to discover yourself. As Emily bounces between a suburb where everyone tries to fit in and a city where everyone wants to be unique, she struggles to find her own identity. And while the rules may change, the pressures remain the same. Friendships can be hard to navigate. Boys are both deeply mysterious and utterly predictable. And the line between right and wrong is always a little blurry."
Last year, I loved a little novel called The Opposite of Invisible by Liz Gallagher, mainly for its realistic characters and beautiful combination of art and friendship. While reading Same Difference, by Siobhan Vivian, I felt that same smile on my face as I had a year ago and ended up turning the last page incredibly satisfied.

The main character, Emily and the situations she was in were written in a believable manner. She's a rich girl, with a great best friend, but is always longing for just a little more, hoping to find her true self in the folds of what is expected of her. Traveling to a big city and enrolling in a prestigious program start to bring out the artist in her and her need to impress someone she really admires while losing those that love her for who she is quite well written.

I did have some issues with Emily's relationship with Yates, as I did quite believe in him. He was written as an interesting and intriguing character, but his dialogue fell flat and their entire "relationship" was a little overdone. Other than that, I was really impressed with Vivian's novel and look forward to reading more from her. I've never picked up her first, A Little Friendly Advice, so I'll be digging that one up soon.

Oh and if you haven't checked out The Opposite of Invisible, do so!!

Same Difference
Siobhan Vivian
304 pages
Young Adult
Push
9780545004077
March 2009
Review copy received from publisher


To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a tiny commission from your purchase. Thanks!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Books Day 14: Who Would Like a Christmas Tree?

Each day leading up to Christmas, I'm going to feature a Children's book that I've really enjoyed and would make a great choice to share with your family for the holidays. It may be one I've loved for years or one I've just recently found, but all would be great additions to your Christmas story list. Hopefully you'll find something to enjoy!

I'm combining today's Christmas book with Non-Fiction Monday. Two for one day :)

Jacket description:
"Who would like a Christmas tree? That all depends on when you ask. In January, in February, in March, in April... the black-capped chickadees, the white-tailed deer,  and the woodcock come to claim the tree. They want it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for shelter and protection, for a place to start a new family. Can a Christmas tree be all that? Yes, and even more...The year has just begun!"


You'll learn much more about Christmas trees (specifically Balsam firs and Fraser firs) than you ever thought possible with author Ellen Bryan Obed's and illustrator Anne Hunter's book. Though we use Christmas trees only in December, different animals use them all year long for all sorts of important tasks like eating, storing food, and building nests.

We get information not only on trees, but also on the different birds and animals that make use of the trees, such as chickadees, robins, spiders, and foxes. We learn all sorts of facts about these creatures, while celebrating the trees that we love (in December of course!). I think the illustrations were beautiful and really celebrated each season...not just the Christmas season!

A great classroom book to use around this time of year, as a jumping-off point for projects and activities.


Who Would Like a Christmas Tree? : A Tree for All Seasons
Ellen Bryan Obed
32 pages
Non-Fiction
Houghton-Mifflin
9780547046259
September 2009
Review copy received from publisher


To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a tiny commission from your purchase. Thanks!

Weekend report...

As I mentioned on Friday, I've been a bit grinchy thus far in the holiday season. I have a rough time around Christmas, but always really try to have a positive attitude and for some reason my positive thoughts have been failing me! Saturday definitely perked my spirits though, as we spent the morning volunteering and laying wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery.

Such a patriotic and emotional experience, it was wonderful to get together with civilians, military, and other military families, to lay wreaths on over 16,000 headstones, pausing to remember what these men and women gave up for our country.

No matter how cranky I've been, this experience was wonderfully positive and I'm so glad we participated. Even if it meant getting up at 5am to stand in 20 degree weather!

Click to see full photos. 







Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Year of Living Like Jesus review

Jacket description:
"Evangelical pastor Ed Dobson chronicles his year of living like Jesus and obeying his teachings. Dobson’s transition from someone who follows Jesus to someone who lives like Jesus takes him into bars, inspires him to pick up hitchhikers, and deepens his understanding of suffering. As Dobson discovers, living like Jesus is quite different from what we imagine."

Inspired by A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically, (which I reviewed back in May) Dobson has essentially tweaked the process Jacobs went through when he attempted to follow the Bible as literally as possible for one year, and decides to strictly live like Jesus. What happens is sometimes funny, sometimes emotionally riveting, and overall a really interesting experiment about a regular man attempting to live his life in a Jesus-like manner. It could not possibly have been an easy task to take on, but Dobson did so in a realistic manner, at times having to stray from his Jesus-like path to accommodate his daily life.

I felt the writing was choppy, although done in a journal-type style, so maybe the choppiness would work for some people. I was a bit put off by it in the beginning of the book, but slowly grew to appreciate Dobson's simplistic thoughts about his journey and note-jotting. We get a glimpse inside the world of this man, struggling to live with ALS, a degenerative illness, whose faith is astounding despite his self-proclaimed weaknesses.

The middle of the book is a bit history-heavy, filled with facts from the Jewish faith and the aspects of life in Jerusalem, as explained when Dobson leads a tour group. I found myself skimming a little here, but overall I really enjoyed reading Dobson's journey. His constant humility and humor was a great addition to the pages and I would have no problem handing both Christians and non-Christians the book. Either way, it's a good read.

The Year of Living Like Jesus: My Journey of Discovering What Jesus Would Really Do
Ed Dobson
304 pages
Non-Fiction
Zondervan
9780310247777
October 2009
Review copy received via Amazon Vine


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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Picture Book Saturday: Random

I'm trying to stay away from posting about Christmas and Holiday titles during my Picture Book Saturday features this month, as I'm doing a daily post of Christmas books and we don't need an overload of those books, now do we? So, today I have some random titles from my TBR shelf to share. Hopefully you find something to enjoy!

When I Wore My Sailor Suit, written and illustrated by Uri Shulevitz, is a great tribute to a child's imagination and the places he can go while playing pretend.
A little boy becomes a sailor from the minute he wakes up, spending his day climbing mountains, sailing the sea, exploring new lands, and encountering scary old men. He must overcome his fear of the man, before he can continue on his sailor's journey.
Again, a great example of using one's imagination. Use this book as a jumping off point to an activity where your child uses his or her imagination and possibly sails on their own journey.

When I Wore My Sailor Suit
Uri Shulevitz
32 pages
Picture Book
FSG
9780374347499
September 2009
Review copy received from publisher

God Found Us You, written by Lisa Tawn Bergren and illustrated by Laura J. Bryant, the awesome team that brought us God Gave Us You, is a perfect story to share with all children, though those kids that have been adopted into a family may get a very special message from it.

Little Fox asks his Mama to tell the story of how he became a part of their family. As Mama talks about wishing for a baby of her own and how Little Fox's birth mama loved him so much that she gave him a better home, with God's help. She then talks about being his "forever" mama and how he will be treasured and appreciated so much because he was specially chosen for their family.

A truly beautiful story that will open up a conversation to chat about adoption, family differences, etc. The illustrations are soft and soothing, making this a nice choice for bedtime as well.


God Found Us You
Lisa Tawn Bergren
40 pages
Picture Book
HarperCollins
9780061131769
June 2009
Review copy received from publisher

Honk! The Story of a Prima Swanerina, written by Pamela Duncan Edwards and illustrated by Henry Cole, is a hilarious look into the life of a swan that really just wants to dance her own part Swan Lake. She practices non-stop and when the ballet finally makes it's way into town, she just has to see it!

Unfortunately, swans aren't allowed in the Opera House. Mimi tries different disguises until finally, just being herself gets her inside!

This is my silly choice of the week, for sure! Your kids will laugh out loud as Mimi tries one thing after another to get in to see that ballet, honking all the way. Great for a read aloud!

Honk! The Story of a Prima Swanerina
Pamela Duncan Edwards
32 pages
Picture Book
Hyperion
9780786804351
January 1999
Review copy received from publisher


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Friday, December 11, 2009

My weekend ahead and some self-pity...

I've been feeling crummy lately, I'll just throw that out there. Crummy sick-wise, crummy emotionally, and just plain crabby at that. I'm trying very hard to get into the holiday spirit..we've put up lights outside, have decorated inside, and I'm done buying gifts for people, but I just am having a difficult time not being blue this year. And it's getting irritating.

Luckily, tomorrow is setting us up for some mandatory holiday cheer and I'm really hoping it sticks around! In the morning, the hubby and I are heading to Arlington National Cemetery to participate in the wreath ceremony, which will be a first for us, but hopefully a really cool experience. Being a military family, I think it will mean a lot to participate in putting wreaths on these headstones, so I'll have to blog about it after we're done. We do have to meet some friends for breakfast at 6am (yikes), so I'm not looking forward to facing the freezing cold air at the crack of dawn, but I'm sure it will be worth it.

Then, tomorrow evening, we have the big holiday party at the hubby's office building. Though it's our first year, we've heard they go all out (which means I need to be pretty for this thing), and they're having our favorite Thai restaurant cater, so that's exciting! I'll fill you in after the experience.

Here's to hoping the Christmas spirit kicks in here pretty soon... off to get more Cybils reading accomplished!

Notes From the Dog (MG review)

Jacket description:
"Fourteen-year-old Finn is a loner, living with his dad and his amazing dog, Dylan. This summer Finn is hoping for a job where he doesn't have to talk to anyone except his buddy, Matthew. Then he meets Johanna, who's living next door. She's a graduate student in her twenties, cool and funny, and she treats Finn as an equal. Dylan thinks she's great too. Johanna's dealing with breast cancer, and Matthew and Finn help take care of her-and come to care for her. When she hires Finn to create a garden, his efforts backfire comically. But Johanna, and working in the garden, help Finn discover his hidden talent for connecting with people."

Gary Paulsen is an awesome adventure writer, but I really think he shines in the pages of this heartfelt and beautifully written middle grade novel. Though the subject matter is anything but funny, (breast cancer, loneliness, etc), Finn and his friends are hilarious, jubilent at times, and wonderfully real. I felt a connection with Johanna and her zest for life after having receiving scary and tragic news, and I loved how Finn handled himself and his newfound friendship with this older woman. Finn was totally insecure in the way that 14 year olds are, leaving him as realistic as possible.
The inclusion of Dylan the dog was fantastic and the task of the garden creation was both metaphorical and just plain funny! You'll be inspired by this book, laugh as you read it, cry in parts, and just want to read more when the last page is turned. Typically I comment that books written for middle graders and young adults are often too long, adding unnecessary fluff to the pages. Notes from the Dog is a short 132 pages and I would have loved for it to have gone on a bit longer.

Boys and girls alike can gain something from reading this lovely book, as well as all of us book-loving adults. Hand this kids loving a well-written, heartwarming story.


Notes from the Dog
Gary Paulsen
132 pages
Middle Grade
Wendy Lamb Books
9780385738453
July 2009
Review copy received from publisher


To learn more, or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a tiny commission from your purchase. Thanks!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How to Say Goodbye in Robot (YA review)

Jacket description:
"New to town, Bea is expecting her new best friend to be one of the girls she meets on the first day. You know the type: very cheery, very friendly, very average. But instead, the alphabet conspires to seat her next to Jonah, aka Ghost Boy, a quiet observer who hasn't made a new friend since third grade. He's not a big fan of people in general...but he's willing to make an exception for her. Maybe.
 

Bea and Jonah are not going to have a friendship like other people have a friendship, where it's all based on gossip and parities and what everybody else thinks. Instead, their friendship comes from truth-bound conversations, shared secrets, daring stunts, and late-night calls to the same old-timer radio show. They help each other and hurt each other, push away and hold close. It's not romance exactly- but it's definitely love. And it means more to them than either one can ever really know..."

I loved this quirky story, so much more than I thought I was going to. Natalie Standiford has created these two characters that I really believed in and felt had this love that is forced to go unexplained in an incredibly romantic way. I could picture someone from my own past, as Jonah, and I think that helped his emotions resonate  The ending is not at all typical of a teen novel and that had me loving it even more, as much as I wished it had ended differently...if only for my own, personal emotional state.

The part of the story where Jonah and Bea go off to find his brother, is a bit less believable as a whole, but since I felt the whole "point" of the book was to focus on this friendship that's a true, deep love for each other, so I wasn't hung up on the fact that I couldn't really see teens doing that. I loved the characters enough that it didn't matter what else was going on.

A beautifully written, quirky story, that will expand your mind to other realms of romance, rather than just all lovey lust, and making out.


How to Say Goodbye in Robot
Natalie Standiford
288 pages
Young Adult
Scholastic Press
9780545107082
October 2009
Review copy received from publisher for the Cybil Awards


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Holiday Books Day 10 and 11: The Mitten and A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas

Each day leading up to Christmas, I'm going to feature a Children's book that I've really enjoyed and would make a great choice to share with your family for the holidays. It may be one I've loved for years or one I've just recently found, but all would be great additions to your Christmas story list. Hopefully you'll find something to enjoy!

I'm doing today and Friday's posts together, to make room for some YA reviews tomorrow. Enjoy!


The Mitten, one of my all-time favorite wintery stories, has been retold by Jim Aylesworth and illustrated by Barbara McClintock.

If you don't know the story already, it features one little boy who loses his mitten and a whole bunch of animals that make themselves nice and cozy inside of that lost mitten, piling in and piling in until that mitten bursts, leaving the boy flabbergasted when he finds it. 

Kids are huge fans of this sweet-and-silly story, leaving them giggling as more and more animals try to find a cozy bed within that tiny mitten. It always made a great read aloud, no matter the version or the author (and there are lots of versions out there!). Pick this one up for story time or just to read aloud with the family. And don't forget to make the hot cocoa recipe provided on the jacket!

The Mitten
Retold by Jim Aylesworth
32 pages
Picture Book
Scholastic Press
9780439925440
October 2009
Review copy provided by publisher

A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas, written by Ralph Covert and G. Riley Mills and illustrated by Wilson Swain certainly takes the story of the nutcracker to a whole other level, with the ultimate imagination journey mixed in.

We have a bratty boy that just wants to play his video game who happens to be told the story of the nutcracker by his old neighbor. Next thing the boy knows, the Nutcracker is alive and helping to save him from the evil Mouse King. Oh yeah, and the Nutcracker is a girl!

Silly, imaginative, and quite a bit of fun, this would make a nice read aloud with your older kiddos. Really, who wouldn't like a book filled with a land made of candy?!

This one comes with a cool cd of songs and a reading of the book by the author. 

A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas
Ralph Covert and G. Riley Mills
40 pages
Picture Book
Chronicle Books
9780811861113
October 2009
Review copy received from publisher

To learn more about either book or to purchase, click on the book covers above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a tiny commission from your purchase. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Holiday Books Day 9: Christmas Tapestry

Each day leading up to Christmas, I'm going to feature a Children's book that I've really enjoyed and would make a great choice to share with your family for the holidays. It may be one I've loved for years or one I've just recently found, but all would be great additions to your Christmas story list. Hopefully you'll find something to enjoy!

"When a bad leak ruins the sacristy wall in his father's church, Jonathan Jefferson Weeks thinks his family's first Christmas Eve service in Detroit will be ruined too. Luckily, he and his father find a beautiful tapestry for sale in a secondhand shop-just the thing to cover the damaged wall and give the church a festive look!

But there is more to the tapestry, as they discover when an old Jewish woman who is visiting the church recognizes the lovely old cloth. It is her discovery that leads to a real miracle on this unforgettable Christmas Eve."

Patricia Polacco is awesome in all the books she's written, but I really do love this one. A great mixture of a holiday story, family relationships and history, love, and different cultures coming together. It's a bit longer than in text than a typical picture book, so older kids will probably get more out of it than your younger ones.

Not a flat-out Christmas book, but a lovely family read aloud that includes the holidays, some Christian traditions, some Jewish traditions, and fabulous miracle at the end!


Christmas Tapestry
Patricia Polacco
48 pages
Picture Book
Philomel
9780399239557
September 2002
Copy borrowed from library


To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a tiny commission from your purchase. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday Books Day 8: The Longest Christmas List Ever

Each day leading up to Christmas, I'm going to feature a Children's book that I've really enjoyed and would make a great choice to share with your family for the holidays. It may be one I've loved for years or one I've just recently found, but all would be great additions to your Christmas story list. Hopefully you'll find something to enjoy!

Jacket description:
"Every year, Trevor is disappointed at Christmas because there is ALWAYS something he forgets to put on his list...but next year will be different! With a foolproof plan and great determination, Trevor begins compiling his ultimate wish list the day after Christ and faithfully continues for the next 364 days, creating THE LONGEST CHRISTMAS LIST EVER!


Trevor may remember all the toys he wants, but it seems he's forgotten a thing or two about the true meaning of Christmas. Luckily, Santa knows just what to give him: the gift of friendship."


Most of my Christmas choices so far have been rather sentimental in nature (and most of them probably will be), but today's selection is definitely funny! The Longest Christmas List Ever, written and illustrated by Gregg & Evan Spiridellis, will make you and your children laugh and giggle, but ends up with a pretty great message. And the facial expressions on the characters are awesome!

The text rhymes very nicely, making for a great storytime read aloud. With it's message of love, rather than materialism, this is a great choice to read to all kids, reminding them what Christmas is really about.

It just came out in paperback this Fall, adding it to the affordability list for Christmas gifts!



The Longest Christmas List Ever
Gregg and Evan Spiridellis
32 pages
Picture Book
Disney-Hyperion
9781423101949
August 2007
Review copy received from publisher

To learn more, or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a tiny commission from your purchase. Thanks!