Saturday, December 24, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 12!!

The Final Day!
And what else could it be?!?! However this is a special one!

The Night Before Christmas - by Clement C. Moore

Of course this is my final entry in this series! It's a classic. You know this story. You love it. You've probably seen it illustrated 100 different ways, and they're never bad. I've seen a million versions and love them all!

This one is special though - as our version of this book is the one you see pictured - and is read by Grandma Susie :) This was a gift last year - and D will sit and "read" it over and over. It's perfect. I love it - and I know he'll love it for years and years to come.

And to all a good night.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 11

To be honest - this is one I don't remember very well...

Noel - by Romeo Muller

This book seems to have printed in 1993. I have vague recollections of it from my babysitting days. I remember I bought a coloring book of this story for my babysitting bag and it was my favorite to bust out for the kids.

This is the story of a loving Christmas ornament that comes to life. I know that Noel is filled with the spirit of the season and loves Christmas, even though some of his other ornament friends do not.

Noel has a special power of happiness to bring it to the families he's with, to which he graces their tree. I know that Noel befriends many families in this story and somehow ends up broken. MAN I need to locate this one again.

I love this book and added it because it brought back a memory for me. I hadn't even thought of this book and found it in a random search. I also LOVE the concept and the illustrations of the beloved little ornament with the power of Christmas. The illustrations are amazing, and the story must have been at least somewhat intriguing to the masses because it was made into an animated movie - with a voiceover by Charleton Heston!!

So I'm wanting to remember this - if nothing else. This is my selfish post - as a reminder to find this book and read it to my little bookworm. And it's a reminder to keep the spirit of Christmas in your heart even amongst others who may not be as cheerful as they should be. That's an excellent message for 2 days away from Christmas if nothing else.

Ahhh - I love nostalgia.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 10

Whew - made it to day 10!

Day 10 I'm going with a D favorite - reminiscent of the day of the Bear books that we know and love...D loves another "little critter" just as much...

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad - by Mercer Mayer

We've come to embrace Little Critter in our house. I remembered those books from when I was little, and introduced a few to D who immediately took to the little guy. Since then it's become a tradition - we get a different (or repeat) Little Critter book at the library every week.

This week we OF COURSE hit the holiday section and hit the jackpot with the a Little Critter book. I didn't remember this one - but Dain thought that he had this book as a kid - which is great!

Mercer Mayer is a great author. The little critter books are always endearing, and the focus is the little guy who is always trying to do the right thing and explaining away the things he can't do correctly. This book is no exception to the cuteness of the other stories. Little Critter wants to help mom and dad by baking cookies (but tasting too many), trying to go to sleep right away Christmas Eve (he was too excited - - D thinks he's scared!), and trying not to wake his parents up too early Christmas morning (he brought his new toys up to their room at 6 am).

This story is a heartwarming way of showing that kids aren't always trying to be difficult - they have the best intentions at heart. Little Critter loves his parents and wanted to have a Merry Christmas. That's always a great message!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 9

Here's day 9. Maybe it's because I've been dreaming of vacation lately...

Mrs. Claus Takes a Vacation - by Linas Alsenas

This cute book grabbed my attention at the library the way most do...the cover. Shame on me for judging books by their covers, eh? But that's how I've found so many good ones out there!!

Anyway - Mrs. Claus Takes a Vacation is a cute story from beginning to end - and the illustrations that make the cover so eye-catching are even more appealing on the pages inside.

This book starts at the North Pole - with Mrs. Claus expressing frustration that Santa gets to see the world every year and she has never really been out and about. So she kisses her husband goodbye and hitches up a reindeer and hits the road to see the world.

She travels around the world - sitting on beaches, eating sushi in Japan, dancing with locals somewhere in England, visiting beautiful temples somewhere in India. Santa sits home convinced she's not going to last in the sun at the beach (she's fine there), that she's not making any friends (she does), and that she's missing the food/cookies at their North Pole home (which she sorta does in a cute/funny sushi picture).
Mrs. Claus seems to be having a fabulous time - but starts to wish she was sharing the experiences with her husband - so she heads home - of course in time for Christmas Eve.
SPOILER ALERT! Santa hitches up the sleigh to make the rounds for Christmas - and asks her to go with him. He says he'd like to take her on one more trip around the world and couldn't imagine wanting to share it with anyone else.

This book is great. It is not too short/not too long - and the pictures keep it interesting the whole way through. Who doesn't want to see Santa in his loungewear at home waiting for his wife on his off days? :) The images of Mrs. Santa on her trip are well done and make you want to be in all those scenarios.

As I mentioned - perhaps I just need a vacation and that's why I pulled this off the shelf. However D likes this book too. He likes to see Mrs. Claus. To be honest it's nice to see her as the focus of a story! And it's got a great moral...that you can go anywhere and do anything - but it's the company you keep that makes wherever you go the most special.

Monday, December 19, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 8

Ick. This day had to come.
Yep - the 8th book of Christmas is not one that's a favorite of mine. Definitely not a favorite of Dain's. But D loves it so here we go...

What Dogs Want for Christmas - by Kandy Radzinski

OKAY it's a cute idea. And OKAY the dogs are illustrated beautifully. So maybe it's a good one :)

This book was a gift - I believe from Grandma Denise again. And D loves it. He loved it last year too. I know he loves dogs - and there's a cute rhyming pattern to what the dogs are asking Santa for. There's a Golden Retriever who wants cookies, a Bassett that wants a hat to hold his ears up, a Chihuahua who wants a sweater to stay warm, etc.
D mostly loves the dogs' names. Baxter, Goldie (the Golden Retriever cleverly enough), Rufus, Daisy, Miss Maddie, etc. They are as I had said, beautifully drawn and come off as cute and cuddly and warm. They are no doubt irresistible to a 2 or 3 or 4 year old kid. It's a cute, quick, feel-good holiday story that makes you see that everyone has a heart's desire or perfect gift that would make their holiday perfect for them.
The last dog just wants a warm home, lap to lay on, and family to call their own. It's that what we all want after all?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 7

Same day as 6...but you get the idea.

No list would be complete without THE GRINCH!!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas - by Dr. Seuss

To be completely honest - I haven't read this one since my youth and I'm SICK over it. However - I watch the movie every year and listen to the music every year as well. It's amazing and a classic that can't be avoided on this list.

While I may not have the book - which is a TRAVESTY on the part of my child-rearing - I love the story and the message.

If you've lived under a rock and don't know the premise - it's about the Who's - a group of citizens in the town of Whoville. They are the cute-illustrated people created by Dr. Seuss.
The grinch lives in a mountain outside of Whoville and is ANTI-Christmas. He trys to STEAL Christmas and all the festiveness from Whoville - especially a little girl named Cindy-Lou Who - the main character besides the Grinch.
What we learn in this moral - is that the citizens of Whoville don't need gifts or decorations or even food/parties - they just need love in their hearts for their friends/family to make their Christmas special. And the Grinch's heart grew that day. And forever more.

I love that this book reinforces the spirit of Christmas.
"Maybe Christmas.. he thought...doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."

12 Books of Christmas - day 6

Ick I missed a day so I'll be doing 2 today it seems!

Day 6 is another book from Grandma Denise, she gave to D a couple years ago and it's adorable - he loves it and I've noticed it growing in popularity:

Snowmen at Christmas - by Caralyn Buehner

This book is a classic in the works - it's destined to be one that's discussed for generations. I didn't know it - but there are 2 or 3 other "snowmen" books by this author. Guess what we'll be looking for at the library? :)

Snowmen at Christmas tells the story of what the snowmen do on Christmas Eve once everyone is asleep. They sneak off the lawns where they reside and all head to the center of town. They enjoy the lights, and the spirit of the holidays. They see their friends, have treats, dance, and decorate a giant tree with snow. Even snowman St Nick arrives! Then as dawn approaches - they all head home to be back on your lawn by Christmas morning.

I love that this book inspires this kind of creative thinking. That it allows kids to think that their snowmen gets to spend the holiday with their friends and can magically come alive. That's the kind of thinking I had as a kid and I miss in adulthood.

The illustrations in this book really make the story. Illustrated by Mark Buehner (who I THINK is the author's husband) the pictures are the perfect compliment. He somehow accomplished evening drawings with the perfect amount of "light" coming from the snow, and city lights. These pictures are appreciated by adults and children in my mind.

This book is a no-brainer for your library list, or your holiday lists. It's an adorable story - with creative thinking inspired...which made it (in my opinion) a GREAT book.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 5

I've painted myself in a corner and now HAVE to knock one of these out every day!

But, never fear...I'm ready!

Tonight's day 5 book is by one of my FAVORITE children's books authors:

If You Take A Mouse To The Movies - by Laura Numeroff

Laura Numeroff has written some of my favorite children's books - including "Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers", but we are BIG fans of the "If you..." series that she's created.

This story is the Christmas version - and definitely keeps with the cute style of the string-of-events storytelling that these books are famous for. If you aren't familiar with the other books in this series GET FAMILIAR, they are adorable. (My personal fav is "If You Give a Cat a Cupcake").

The book follows a little boy and a mouse - and "if you take a mouse to the movies, he's going to want some popcorn". The popcorn leads him to stringing it up, then wanting to get a Christmas tree, then wanting to make ornaments, etc etc etc. The journey goes from the movies, to the woods, to the backyard, to the house, and then winds up back at where you started. He wants to go back to the movies.

Laura Numeroff's stories in this series always follow a chain of events that lead the character and the animal back to where they started. But there's no shortage of cuteness and laughter along the way.

The book is illustrated by Felicia Bond, who illustrates all the books in this series. Her drawings are so cute and perfect for the story. There's a simplicity to them, but a reality that makes the sparkles, popcorn, lights, snow all come alive on the page. I've always loved how "friendly" the artistry is in these books.

This story is a cute way to stay in the Christmas spirit. It doesn't have a moral, but it's holiday fun at it's finest. Check it out of the library at the least. And while you're in the N section - get some of the others!

OOH - I heard that the latest in this series is "If You Give a Dog a Donut" and I'm just waiting for our turn with that one from the library!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 4

On the 4th book of Christmas...we bring in Santa!!

Santa Claus the World's Number One Toy Expert - by Marla Frazee

This book is perfect for day 4, and for all those kids who are figuring out their wish lists for Santa...or more likely for those who aren't quite sure.

We got this book from the library last year and it quickly made it onto our Amazon wish list. Marla Frazee wrote this adorable story for kids of any age, and adults who still want to believe in the magic.

The illustrations on the cover are what initially drew me to this book. Adorable drawings of Santa and toys - with a vintage feel that seems to be a hallmark of children's books that I love. The pictures of Santa are so warm and friendly, and sometimes funny. I love how this book is drawn!

The story is about Santa, obviously, and how he's the "number one toy expert". He spends his time picking out the perfect gift to match with each child's likes and talents. It shows Santa doing research - and testing all the toys to make sure they are fun to play with. The story shows Santa trying out the fun of all the toys (mostly timeless classics like hula hoops and dolls, etc). He makes sure that each gift matches each child so that Christmas morning is successful and happy for each one.
This gives the idea that Santa is busy all year round with his studies. I love that. And it says that "gives the exact right toy to the exact right kid, 99.9% of the time . . . no one is perfect. Not even Santa Claus" which I think is good - because there's bound to be those few kids out there who aren't thrilled with what they've gotten, but even the kid pictured in the story (from my recollection) realizes that the toy he got is amazing. (This is only one small page in this adorable book).

I like that the other side of this story is that Santa is a number one KID expert too - referencing that he talks to LOTS of kids all year - brave and shy. This is especially poignant to me this year as D is scared of Santa in the flesh. But that's good...because he's been changing his mind on toys. However maybe I should get this book - so he realizes that Santa is working on getting him the perfect toy...because Santa knows every kid, and what toy will be best for them. I think D will be happy with what Santa brings him this year - because he's been watching and listening very closely and boy oh boy does Santa love to do his research. ;)

Monday, December 12, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 3

Look at me! I'm staying on top of it!

So here's the book for #3 - a bear that has worked his way into our hearts...

Bear Stays Up for Christmas - by Karma Wilson & illustrations by Jane Chapman

This super-cute rhyming book is just one of the MANY "Bear..." books that D has grown to love. Karma Wilson has written an entire series, including Bears Wants More, Bear's New Friend, Bear Feels Scared and our VERY favorite Bear Snores On. In fact, Bear Snores On I have memorized, and it's the story I whisper-tell to D on nights that he's having trouble going to sleep and still wants to rock.

Bear Stays Up for Christmas is another success for Karma Wilson in my "book". It's written (and illustrated by Jane Chapman) in the same rhyming style - with the same adorable characters that are in each of her other stories.
In this story - the bear's friends interrupt his hibernation so he doesn't sleep through Christmas - and miss all the fun. They keep him busy getting a tree and decorating it, singing carols, etc. Eventually just the bear is awake all night baking and wrapping for his friends - and when the rest wake up they exchange gifts and see that Santa has come. His friends let him go back to sleep, and they all sneak off out of the cave after a wonderful holiday.

The illustrations in these books are perfect as usual. The bear is so warm and cozy, and the rest of his crew just completes it. Throughout the series you see that they are true friends and eachother's family. It's such a wonderful thing to see them together celebrating the holiday, and with such an adorable story. They want to spend their time together - which is a great message.

The story is the perfect length for bedtime - or anytime in D's case. It's familiar and warm and a favorite that we will read for years...or until D no longer will let me cram him on my lap.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 2

So I'm following up! Here's book #2 - and it's probably good that I gave myself more than 12 days to do this so I can actually accomplish all 12...

Baby's Christmas - written and illustrated by Eloise Wilkin

This is a Little Golden Book from 1959. For some reason we had it when I was a little girl and I always remember it as one of my favorite books of all time, not just of the season. In fact, this was one of those books that I sought out on eBay while I was pregnant because I knew I wanted my baby to have this book in their library.

This book is very simply written, and illustrated. But like others by Eloise Wilkin (there were many), the illustrations are beautifully done, detailed and lifelike, while retaining the image of the era.

The book is about a baby coming down for Christmas to see what Santa left. It's very gender neutral - to this day I'm not sure if the baby is a boy or girl, however there's a stocking on the mantle in one image that says "John" so maybe it's a boy. Growing up I just assumed it was a girl because I lived in a house full of girls, and the baby gets a few pink toys. Ha.

I typically skip pages 2-3 because it doesn't "fit" the rest of the story in it's writing style. But the rest is written so the sentences flow very well.
The baby gets a little ball, a rocking horse, a music box, a train, and many MANY more toys. (Written like "Santa left a music box that plays a little tune. He left a string of wooden beads, pink and white and blue."). The one problem I have as an adult is that this baby gets a TON from Santa...which maybe doesn't teach the best expectations - but you immediately overlook that once you get in to the story.
The pages typically have one toy per page - some with the baby using them, some just on their own. The toys are all reminiscent of the era - simple, wooden, colorful. The kind of toys I preferred best for D at that age. I was always obsessed with the milk truck that the baby gets. I wished I had that toy through my entire youth. I still wish D could have had one.
At the end - baby gets a toy box as well - to put all the toys away in.

This book is better than I remembered it. It's adorable - and simple. D loved it as an infant...and still loves it as a very active toddler. I still love it as a 31 year old adult. It will always be one of my favorites. I leave it in our rotation year round - it does not get put away with the other Christmas books, needless to say ;)

Friday, December 9, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 1

I've decided maybe I'll do the 12 Books of Christmas...of course with children's books. We'll see if I bite off more than I can chew, because I've not been the best at keeping up with posts!

However - here we go with Day 1:

The Longest Christmas List Ever - by Gregg Spiradellis and Evan Spiradellis

This book is new to us this year - a gift from Grandma Denise. Regardless of this - it has quickly made it in to the VERY regular rotation.
This book is about a little boy named Trevor, who wakes up Christmas morning to a plethora of toys that he loves but keeps tossing aside for the next and the next. In the midst he realizes he forgot to ask Santa for a puppy - so he starts the next year's list right there and then so he's sure not to forget a single item that his heart desires.
He writes day and night for close to a year - filling boxes of lists that stretch through his town. When he goes to mail the list it's too pricey - so he has to try to narrow it to one page and misses the post office cut-off for Santa. So he's terrified of missing presents.
SPOILER ALERT - he wakes up to the perfect present...and realizes that mom and dad must have written Santa and that Christmas is about love and not presents. I won't tell you what that gift is though. HA!

This book is adorably written. It's not too short, not too long - and rhymes in the clever and mild fashion that makes a book fun to travel through.
The illustrations are perfect. The little boy is drawn well, just enough exaggeration with his features to make him an adorable main character with perfect expressions.

I also love the message of this book. It's almost like a fable, with a moral at the end. Trevor learns that love can make a holiday special. He learns that the one perfect gift and the love of your family can override boxes full of material things that won't fill your heart.

In short, it's a keeper.

Stay tuned for - hopefully - 11 more books of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fell in a Hole

Did I fall in hole? No.
But that would be the best excuse as to why I haven't been posting on the blog. I haven't even uploaded a picture to my computer since Halloween. I have been out of it. Just busy with holidays/work/etc that take up everyone's time. But I've had so many posts I've thought about in my head but just haven't put on the web. I've even saved multiple books from the library because I've been obsessed and not wanting to forget them for a future post.

I'll get back at it soon. Stay tuned.