Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Stories Starring Santa!

Looking to beef up your Christmas children's book collection?  Or maybe you're like us and you just can't pass up on a wonderful holiday book to add to your ridiculous never ending obsession?  Either way, we're here for you! Until Christmas we'll be creating some lists of our favorites starting with Santa!

(Whitalics here! Hi! So these italicky Santa books are some of the most requested ones in my house and the good news is I'm happy to read these ones over and over!)

Santa's Secrets Revealed by James Solheim stars a NON believer kid.  My boys just loved this book (since they face non believers at school everyday).  In it Santa takes this kid and shows him how all the amazing stuff he does IS actually possible.  Pretty cute.

How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky is new to us this year. It's cute and clever and pretty darn funny why his other jobs don't work out! We actually first read (and read and read)  How Santa Lost His Job so you might want to check out a copy of that too.

Santa Claus the World's Number One Toy Expert by Marla Frazee is one of the most delightful Christmas books about Santa in existence.  Such a cute Santa (none of the creepiness factor that you find in depicted Santas all the time… you guys know what I'm talking about, right?).

In Santa's Stuck by Rhonda Gowler Greene we find Santa enjoying some midnight snacks…okay, a lot of midnight snacks. Too many…see the title for a clue. Oh and this one's a rhymer so it make a nice read aloud for the preschool crowd.

Looking for a true Santa Christmas Classic?  You'll want to get a copy of Jolly Old Santa Claus by Patricia Pingry.  The illustrations are fabulous.  It's a straight forward book telling about what Santa does to prepare for Christmas.  It's beautiful and simple.  My personal copy is a board book.

The Santa Trap by Jonathan Emmett doesn't really focus on Santa, but rather on one very very VERY naughty little boy's quest to take Santa down! Don't worry, he fails and Santa still delivers! My kids are big fans of this one.

How many of you have read Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien?  They are incredible!  The detail that Tolkien went into to make Christmas magical for his children is just amazing.  Seriously he puts all you Elf on the Shelf folks to shame.  ;) (Ouch!)  Btw, this one is more for grown ups- with sections you'd want to share with your kids.

How Santa Really Works by Alan Snow is like some sort of expose` and behind the scenes look into all things Santa. There's diagrams and charts and explanations of training the elves and fitting down the chimney and seeing who's naughty or nice, etc. Plus fun cartoony pictures and word bubbles. Lilac (age 10) thinks this one is very cool. 

Finally we have,  Peter Claus and the Naughty List by David Lawrence.  This story really tickled me.  You see, Santa has a son (Peter) who always ends up on the naughty list.  Poor Peter never gets any presents and he has real empathy for all those naughty kids in the world.  Fun story!  Bringing hope to the naughty kids everywhere.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Big Pig and the Lost Elf

Well, I just can't hold the Christmas in anymore! I can't!! So, if I'm gonna let it out then I think it might as well be with this delightful book…

Big Pig and the Lost Elf! It's by Randy Briley. (You may remember him from this post, or this one -- we're fans of his around here!) Can I just say, it's so cute people!  The art in this book!! SO FUN!!

But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you a little about the story! It's Christmas time and Big Pig wants to help around the farm.  He's offering assistance to everyone...

The sheep! Their wool-dos! HA! (Sadly, the sheep do not share my amusement.)

And it turns out Pig isn't so great at driving the tractor either. Oops! (Can I just say Randy Briley's signature wide eyed characters are perfect in this story!) Anyway, just when he thinks all hope of helping anyone is lost, an elf turns up. And boy does he need help!

He's got to get back to the North Pole and so the adventure begins!

The places they end up are so awesome! The art depicting those places!! Love it! (That's why I'm show like a zillion images-- they're so fun!) And I almost forgot to mention the fact that it's a RHYMING BOOK! Who can resist that? Plus it's the fun kind of rhyming book where you get some silly rhymes like hugs and humbugs. (That's cute, right?)

After I first read this I was thinking, 'The art in the book! It really should really be put on cards!" Guess what? It IS on cards! (Here's an image and if you like Raven Mad Studios on Facebook you can get all the details!)

I'm not going to spoil the end of the story for you, but I will say it's a good one!  It involves a gift-- the perfect gift for lost travelers!

And hey, the good thing about me posting this before Thanksgiving that you have plenty of time to get it before Christmas!  You can find a copy here or here or here -- how's that for options?  If you're looking for a fresh and playful read this Christmas, you really should put Big Pig and Lost Elf on your list!

Happy reading!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Last King of Angkor Wat

Were there books you 'coveted' as a kid?  I'm guessing this is something most people experienced (at least crazy book people who may be reading this post).  One book I remember wishing I could own was The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery by Graeme Base   A girl who rode my bus got a copy of that book right after it was published.  The exquisite illustrations!  The hidden secrets!  The shine of the dust jacket!  The size of it.  Everything.  I wanted my own.  Somehow it took until adulthood for me to own that book.

Even after all this time has passed I'm still completely enamored with anything created by Graeme Base.  His books are like jumping into another world/place/fantasy.  You just get lost in his illustrations.
His newest book, The Last King of Angkor Wat is no exception.  Every page has a hidden butterfly.  This one is an adventure and a fable.  Absolutely exquisite!  It would make the perfect christmas gift.  Trust me.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

From the Classroom: Buddy Book Bags

Let me just begin by saying this is not my idea! It comes from my child's first grade teacher, BUT I love it so much I had to share for all our teacher friends who are reading. (Of course, all our teacher friends are probably busy teaching right now, but maybe in the summer when they have a chance to sit and read blogs they will this idea.)

So, our awesome first grade teacher has put together these little bags and kids take turns bringing them home for the weekend. (The whole weekend!!) When one of my kids brings a buddy book bag home it is sheer excitement!  Each bag has a stuffed animal, two or three picture books about that kind of animal and a little journal for the kiddo to write about the weekend in!

It's so fun because you get read what your friends did with the stuffed animal and you get hug and love on this special toy that belongs to your teacher! I don't know if you realize this, but in kid speak, if someone loans you a stuffed animal that's like winning an oscar! Am I right?

All my girls adore when the buddy book bag comes home!  Even daddy gets in on the action! PLUS there's the teacher perspective: getting books into kids' homes AND getting kids excited about reading AND getting parents involved! It's an all around win!!

Our teacher also has a little letter in the bags. The letter is from the stuffed animal!! (Cute, right?)  It talks about how excited the stuffed animal is to come home with each kid and reminds the kids to keep the bag contents all together and remember to take it back on Monday. Super clever and cute!

If I was still teaching first grade I would make these bags immediately! I even think I might mention them to our preschool teacher (because I'm obsessed, apparently.)  I love them so much and I'm sure you all think i'm insane for going on and on about this but IT IS THE CUTEST CLASSROOM IDEA EVER!!

Happy Reading!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Tale of Tails

Have I already talked about this book on here?  
I might have.  That's ok.  Illustrations by Garth Wiliams are worth talking about repeatedly.  Speaking of repeatedly… my baby boy makes me read this one to him repeatedly.  MAKES ME.  That's ok too, cause it's a good one!  I found this copy 2nd hand, it was a lucky find!  Published in 1962 by Merrigold Press, written by Elizabeth H Macpherson.  It's a charming book, be on the lookout!  You just might be able to find a copy of your own!  (Actually if you want a new copy there is a version available, A Tale of Tails (Little Golden Treasures) looks like a board book version.)

Happy Reading,