Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holiday Magic: A-Book-A-Day for December

Winter, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas... December is a magical month, and the following list of childrens' books (in random order) covers them all, with the majority being Christmas or Winter books since it's what we celebrate in our house. Happy Reading and Happy December! Enjoy this magical season by reading all the selections on this list (or make your own and check it twice!).

And, in the spirit of the season, please share your favorite winter holiday titles in the Comments section below!
  1. The Snowy Day - Ezra Jack Keats
  2. Santa's Toy Shop - Little Golden Book (Al Dempster)
  3. Clifford's Christmas - Norman Bridwell
  4. The Sweet Smell of Christmas - Patricia Scarry
  5. Auntie Claus - Elise Primavera
  6. First Snow - Bernette Ford
  7. I've Seen Santa! - David Bedford
  8. Snowmen At Christmas - Caralyn Buehner
  9. Cookie Count: A Tasty Pop-Up by Robert Sabuda
  10. Seven Candles For Kwanzaa - Andrea Davis Pinkney
  11. Our Eight Nights of Hanukkah - Michael J. Rosen
  12. Eight Days of Hanukkah: A Holiday Step Book - Harriet Ziefert
  13. I Spy: Little Christmas - Jean Marzollo/Walter Wick
  14. A Wish to be a Christmas Tree - Colleen Monroe
  15. Jingle Bells - Iza Trapani
  16. The Mitten - Jan Brett
  17. Christmas in the Manger - Nola Buck
  18. Erik and the Christmas Horse - Hans Peterson
  19. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening - Frost/Jeffers
  20. Toot & Puddle: Let it Snow - Holly Hobbie
  21. This Is The Stable - Cynthia Cotten
  22. Five Little Penguins Slipping on The Ice - Steve Metzger
  23. Peter Claus and the Naughty List - Lawrence David
  24. The Gingerbread Girl - Lisa Campbell Ernst
  25. Where did they hide my presents? - Alan Katz/David Catrow
  26. The 12 Days of Christmas: A carol-and-count flap book - Tad Hills
  27. Mortimer's Christmas Manger - Karma Wilson
  28. Counting to Christmas - Nancy Tafuri
  29. The Night Before Christmas - Clement C. Moore
  30. How The Grinch Stole Christmas - Dr. Seuss
  31. Mouse's First Christmas - Lauren Thompson

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Heartfelt Thank You

Give Thanks to the Lord: Celebrating Psalm 92 by Karma Wilson is a pretty fun Thanksgiving book, with a faith-based focus. It celebrates Psalm 92: "It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High." and is kid-focused too, showing little folk doing all the things they do on Thanksgiving day with family. Jumping in leaves, eating at the kids' table (with olives on all their fingers), sharing pie with Grampa and stories too, are among just a few examples.

Amy June Bates' illustrations are perfect and sweet, and the faces of the children are so expressive and real.

An excellent book with the added bonus of giving Thanks where it ought to be given: "We all sit down, we all join hands. Our heads are bowed as we say grace. We give our highest praise to God and feel him in this place." Amen. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Snap This Up!!

Cookie Count: A Tasty Pop-Up by Robert Sabuda, is brilliant! Absolutely, charmingly, deliciously, intricately ingenious. I was enchanted the first page-through. The kids LOVE it. LOVE. They both sucked in their collective breaths on page #10, which is a full-blown gingerbread house pop up. One through ten of this counting book features scrumptious cookies, and little mice chefs (it says a lot that the rodents don't bother me... I'm not a rodent fan) on each page of inventive pop-up art. I found this gem on a list of recommended counting books from the library and bought it. It was worth every penny.

My favorites are the fortune cookies (with fortunes), and the Linzer hearts (with heart-shaped cooling rack), oh! and the Pinwheels... one of which twirls on a fork when you turn the page as the mice pull it up with strings. Sigh... I adore this sweet little book that is so delicious you could nearly eat it up.

Buy it. Give it to children you love this holiday season. Make it a part of your holiday traditions — it would make a brilliant accompaniment to any cookie baking / decorating you do every year!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

On The List...

I love the book lists for kids that our library publishes. There are several versions, including 50 Best Picture Books for Kids, and lists for Babies, Toddlers, Preschoolers, Kindergartners, etc.

This list is 100 Books Every Child Should Hear Before Starting School, and it's full of great titles. I buzzed through it again tonight, and we've done 70% of the list so far. I think we've got a good chance of finishing before Madeline starts school.
To see the list in detail, just click on the image for a closer view!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Illustration Comparison

Three of our new books from the library this week have provided an excellent example of different illustration styles, and they are all great stories.

Cowboy Bunnies by Christine Loomis is illustrated by Ora Eitan with paintings on wood panels. The bunnies and their antics are fun and full of energy. Loomis' rhyming prose is lively and beautiful: "Mamas sing sweet lullabies / Papas softly Harmonize / Stars are twinkling Stars are bright / Cowboy bunnies Say goodnight."

Mr. Gumpy's Outing, written and illustrated by John Burningham is a happy story, full of movement from Burningham's great line drawings and mellow, natural colors. The fact that the kids and animals eventually do what Mr. Gumpy warns them against shows cause-and-effect, but with a nice outcome. It's all good, even if you dump your boat in the river... it's only water, and they have a sun-drenched field to walk home through to dry off. The fact that the story ends with a fine tea at Mr. Gumpy's, and an invitation to come again for another boat ride (see, it really is OK), makes the ending that much sweeter!

And, finally, Underwater Counting Even Numbers by Jerry Pallotta is illustrated by David Biedrzycki with bright, nearly-photographically realistic sea creatures. This book was a draw because of Madeline's love for all things oceanic, but every page-turn elicited an excited exclamation; "Wow! Ooooh!! Look at THAT Mama!!!" And some shhhushing from me (only because the first read was at the library). The illustrations were done in Adobe Photoshop, according to the book, and really are gorgeous. We learned many new types of fish, including the Squirrel Fish (Mads' favorite) from this story.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Potty Training Books

When searching for potty training books last year, I browsed many at book stores, read reviews on Amazon, and checked out two different Books To Grow on book kits (on potty training) from the library. None of the options from the library were my style (especially the one featuring a baby duck who takes off his diaper and goes potty in a cooking pot... yeah... my kids don't need any wise ideas in that regard!)

Anyway, I finally decided on two books, purchased them, and they continue to be faves. In fact, Erik now asks for Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi by saying, "I wanna read the one... somebody's poopin'..." and Potty Time by Parker K. Sawyer, "Read me Peein' time, Mama! Please!!"

Potty Time includes hand washing, covers Sesame characters at all stages of training, and has a "flushable" final page. We still remind Madeline that she needs to try to use the bathroom prior to leaving the house, "Just like Zoe always does!" It works.

Everyone Poops is humorous, straightforward and direct (without being too detailed or scientific) and is perfect for kids learning about how their bodies work.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Got Votes?

Duck does! On three separate occasions, duck wins out over his running mate for: Farmer, Governor, then President!

Duck for President is another wonderful book by Doreen Cronin (I LOVE Click Clack, Moo, Cows That Type), and Betsy Lewin's illustrations are absolutely wonderful!

In this tale, Duck learns that it's true that the grass is always greener, as he finds that every job (that he thinks is going to be easy) has it's headaches! The book is full of good humor, a great introduction to elections/politics for kids, and some "counting" issues when ballots are re-counted in each race.

The end is a great (and funny) twist! This would be an excellent book to share with the little folk in your life today! Happy Election Day 2008!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Love This Book!!

I do. I love this book. I checked it out last year at Thanksgiving time, and again about a month ago. Of course, now there are holds on it so I had to return it. That's OK, since this is on the "to own" list. It's even got a page in the back for recording what you're thankful for each year at T-day.

Why do I love Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes, you ask? Well, the illustrations are phenomenal. Vibrant, rich, fun, and real (you know, toys on the floor in a house with children; the mom is in comfy clothes, the family scene is full of real characters). And, of course the story is marvelous. It rhymes beautifully, with wonderful things that the kids are thankful for... "Thank you for Fall and gold leaves floating by/Thank you for school I love to feel smart./Thank you for music and dancing and art." and "Thank you for Mommy and warm, cozy cuddles./Thank you for Daddy and rides on a sled." It ends up with, "But most of all, thanks for the family I love." Well said!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Boo!! Halloween Tales for Wee Folk

Georgie's Halloween by Robert Bright is, like most of the Georgie series, a sweet little story. The kids love finding Georgie in several of the scenes, and it satisfies my love of things that remind me of my childhood. Vintage holiday fun.

So far, we've loved all the Froggy series books by Jonathan London. So much so, in fact, that I picked up Froggy's Halloween at Barnes & Noble without even reading it first. Not really something I usually do, but the kids were spending a little money from Gramma and Grampa, and Froggy's pretty dependable. I was a little disappointed in this one though. In three different scenes in the story, Froggy practices, "Trick or treat, smell my feet. Give me something good to eat. If you don't, I don't care—I'll pull down your underwear!" *Sigh* I'd read it before I could change my mind. Now, this isn't the worst thing that my kids will ever learn to chant, but I suppose I just wasn't ready for my 3-year old (and nearly 2-year old) to be walking around the house singing it just yet. Ah, well. I've warmed up to the book, and the kids like it, so it works, and I'll remember to not break my "pre-read before reading to kids (and especially before shelling out cash)" rule. And, OK, it is cute that the kids have changed the end of the rhyme to "... I don't care, I'll pull down your undies! hehehehehe That silly old Froggy!!" It does make me appreciate the sweetness of Georgie the ghost even more though.

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