A Cookie for Santa

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

21419651

A Cookie for Santa written by Stephanie Shaw and illustrated by Bruno Robert (2014)

A gingerbread cookie worried all evening about his fate as Santa’s midnight snack. While he worried about whether or not he would be brave when the time came, two puppies entered the room romping and destroying the decorations. The Gingerbread cookie knew he had to do something, so he made himself a puppy distraction. The puppies stopped what they were doing to watch the gingerbread cookie. Just then, they heard the sound of jingle bells and the puppies hid under the table. Santa saw the huge mess and asked the gingerbread cookie for help cleaning it up. When they were finished, the gingerbread cookie made one last wish. Santa looked down at him and instead of eating him, Santa asked him to be a special helper at the North Pole. For the puppies, Santa left a gift certificate for obedience school.

Stephanie Shaw’s story is written in rhyme. Little ones will enjoy the rhythm and the  story of the brave gingerbread cookie who helped Santa on Christmas Eve.

Bruno Robert’s illustrations are clean and fresh. The faces of the puppies are adorable, and the gingerbread cookie is so childlike I’m sure kids will identify with him right away.

I like this new twist to the ordinary gingerbread cookie. And I like that the gingerbread cookie earns a reward from Santa for his help. It makes a good read aloud and easy reader for young children.

Simon and the Bear

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

20454571

Simon and the Bear: A Hanukkah Tale written by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Matthew Trueman (2014)

Simon set off on to America leaving his family behind. His mother packed a knapsack with food and something a little extra, because Hanukkah was coming. Simon left promising to work hard and send tickets for all of them to join him in America as soon as he could. On his journey, the ship Simon was on, hit a giant iceberg and began to sink. Simon helped the sailors load the lifeboats and jumped into the last boat himself. Suddenly another man appears crying for help, but there wasn’t any more room on the lifeboat, so the man threw Simon a heavy pocket watch to give to his son in New York when he lands. Simon knew what it’s like to grow up without a father, so he traded places with the man and the last lifeboat rowed away. Just before the ship sank, Simon jumped onto the iceberg thinking only a miracle could save him. Remembering what his mother told him, Simon opened his knapsack and lit the first candle on the menorah, said the blessing, and played with his dreidel until he spun ‘Nun’ which stands for the word ‘Nes – Miracle’. Then Simon heard a splash in the water and was face to face with a polar bear. Simon fed the bear the latkes, black bread, and herring that his mother had packed for him. Simon ate the hard boiled eggs and soon the bear fell asleep with Simon snuggled up next to her. The next morning the bear was gone and Simon wondered if he would ever see her again. Soon, the bear returned with a fish in her mouth. She skinned it with her teeth and bit it in half. Simon cut his piece with a pocketknife and ate it. That night when he lit the second Hanukkah candle, Simon’s belly was full and he slept with the polar bear again. This continued until the last night of Hanukkah. Simon counted his miracles, but he was out of food and out of candles, he needed one more miracle or he would die of cold and hunger. Just then the polar bear jumped back into the water leaving Simon alone and cold on the iceberg. Immediately, he heard voices. Another ship had seen the lights of his menorah and had sent a boat to pick him up. Simon had his eighth miracle, he was rescued and taken to New York. His story was in all the papers. And, the mayor of the city was none other than the man Simon had traded places with on the lifeboat. The mayor was so thankful, he sent tickets to Simon’s family so they could all be together again and he gave Simon the perfect job, Polar Bear Keeper at the Central Park Zoo!

Eric Kimmel, author of my favorite Hanukkah story, The Chanukkah Guest later published as Hanukkah Bear, and many other books gives the old-world flavor to his modern picture books. This is an example of his unique and authentic storytelling which will delight readers everywhere.

Matthew Trueman lit the pages of this book with the warmth and peace of the menorah and the beautiful details of the story.

I am in awe of another masterpiece. The text and the art blend superbly together to create this story of hope, prayer, and miracles, in a fun and fanciful way.

Santa Claus and the Three Bears

Tags

, , , , , , ,

17349000

Santa Claus and the Three Bears written by Maria Modugno and illustrated by Jane and Brooke Dyer (2013)

The three Polar Bears were getting their home ready for Christmas. They decorated the tree, hung the stockings, and cooked a huge Christmas pudding. But when they sat down to eat, they found the pudding was too hot, so the three bears decided to go for a walk while it cooled down. While they were gone, Santa had just landed on the roof the the three bears’ house. Santa saw the beautiful decorations and smelled the wonderful pudding on the table. Thinking the pudding had been left for him, he began to eat… Papa Bear’s pudding was too hot, Mama Bear’s pudding was too cold, but Baby Bear’s pudding was just right, so he ate it all up. Then Santa proceeded to sit in the bears’ chairs… one too hard, one too soft, one just right. But like the story goes, Santa bounced a little too much in Baby Bear’s chair and it broke, landing Santa on the floor. So of course, Santa moves into the Bears’ bedroom and tries out all the beds… too high, too low, just right. And Santa falls asleep in Baby Bear’s bed. When the bears returned home, they grumbled and growled, ‘Somebody has been eating my pudding!’ ‘Somebody has been sitting in my chair!’ and finally ‘Somebody has been sleeping in my bed!’.  All the commotion woke Santa up. He made the bears promise that they wouldn’t tell anyone they had seen him and gave them each a bright red present to open in the morning, and he jumped in his sleigh and took off.

Maria Modugno did a nice job of retelling a favorite fairy tale with a little Christmas twist. And the illustrations are splendid. Jane and Brooke Dyer gave just enough detail in their artwork to resemble the traditional three bears story with a fun little twist at the end, when Papa Bear gets the little wee present, Mama Bear gets the medium sized present, and Baby Bear gets the great big present.

This was a fun story to read. And, whether or not children are familiar with the traditional tale, this is one I’m sure they will enjoy reading and hearing over and over.

Papa Jethro

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

1160924Papa Jethro written by Deborah Bodin Cohen and illustrated by Jane Dippold (2007)

Rachel is always so happy to see her Grandpa Nick when he comes to visit. Grandpa Nick keeps candy in his pockets for Rachel, they play games together, and Grandpa Nick tells her bedtime stories. One day Rachel asks Grandpa Nick why he goes to church and she goes to synagogue. Grandpa Nick tells Rachel the story of Moses’ father-in-law, Papa Jethro. Papa Jethro was a leader of a people called the Midianites, but Moses and his son, Gershom, were Jewish. Grandpa Nick explains that Gershom’s father and mother (Moses and Zipporah) fell in love and started a family even though they came from different backgrounds. And when Moses was called to return to Egypt and lead his people to freedom, Gershom and his mother and baby brother stayed behind in Midian with Papa Jethro until he returned. Gershom played games with Papa Jethro and Papa Jethro told him stories too. But when Moses crossed the Red Sea with the Israelites, Papa Jethro took Gershom, his mother, and baby brother back to the desert to be with Moses and returned to Midian alone. Sometimes Papa Jethro would travel back to the desert to visit his grandsons. He would give them delicious Midianite candies, play games, and tell stories. Papa Jethro taught Gershom a few Midianite words, they called it their secret code. And Gershom told Papa Jethro all about being Jewish. Even though they came from different backgrounds they still loved each other. Papa Jethro didn’t want to change something that was very important to him, and he didn’t want Gershom to change something that was very important to him either. Just as Rachel is about to fall asleep she asks Grandpa Nick if it matters to him that she is Jewish and he is Christian. Grandpa Nick replies, “You are my granddaughter. Nothing else matters. I love you just like Papa Jethro loved Gershom.”

Deborah Bodin Cohen writes a beautiful story within a story about interfaith families. She treats both stories and all the differences between the families with dignity and respect. Her words help children understand that it is love that holds families together, not their differences.

Jane Dippold’s illustrations have an ‘ancient feel’ about them. The reader is transported from a modern day bedroom with a Grandpa in a shirt and tie to biblical period in history with a Papa in robes and sandals. And in both settings, she depicts love and happiness.

I really love this story. It’s not the traditional quirky picture book. It takes a serious look at family differences and helps the reader understand that interfaith relationships have been around for thousands of years, and that the love that keeps a family together that is more important than what differences they may have.

Flashlight

Tags

, , , , , , ,

18851166

Flashlight written and illustrated by Lizi Boyd (2014)

One night, a boy takes his flashlight camping with him. After reading a book in his tent, the boy goes outside in the dark. As he walks, he shines the light on the many things hiding in the darkness all around him. He sees a boot lying in the grass, bats flying in the air, mice in the grass, an owl in the tree, skunks behind a tree, sticks in the pond, and a beaver in the dam. The farther he goes into the woods, the more his flashlight reveals to him. At one point, the boy stumbles on a rock and his flashlight is picked up by a raccoon. As all the other animals look on, the raccoon shines the light on the boy. The other animals each take a turn shining the light on the boy. Bit by bit, the boy is revealed to the animals. Eventually the light is shone on the boy’s tent. He returns to the tent and his book, and a family of mice hold the flashlight for him so he can read.

Lizi Boyd tells this story without words and with loads of imaginative, fun, light/dark artwork. In addition to the flashlight illuminating the story as it unfolds, there are tiny peepholes on each page foreshadowing the next page.

I can’t wait to share this picture book with a very inquisitive and not-sleepy granddaughter at bedtime. I know she’ll love exploring this little boy’s environment from the darkness of her own bedroom.

Bear Hug

Tags

, , , , , , ,

20708774

Bear Hug written and illustrated by Katharine McEwen (2014)

Bear senses that winter is coming soon. So he gathers leaves and bracken just as his papa showed him and he catches silvery fish just as his mama showed him. Then one day he sees another young bear. Together they eat fish and berries and go to the den he has prepared and go to sleep. In the spring, they wake up and leave the den. Following them is a brand-new bear cub. They teach him how to fish and find berries and sweet honey. The bear cub grows and when winter comes again, they all return to the den and sleep in a big bear hug.

Katharine McEwen tells a story with vibrate language and pictures. It’s a quiet, lovely story that children of all ages will enjoy.

I love this new book! It’s a perfect bedtime story or anytime story. It’s definitely  one I want to read again and again!

The Baby Tree

Tags

, , , , ,

18635640

The Baby Tree written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall (2014)

One morning Mom and Dad share some exciting news, a baby is coming. The boy in the story has lots of questions, but the big one is ‘where do babies come from’. On his way to school, Olive says you have to plant a seed and the seed grows into a baby tree. When he tries to paint a baby tree in art class, it doesn’t come out just as he expected so he asks his teacher. Mrs. McClure says babies come from the hospital. Grandpa was in the hospital once to get some stones removed so he decides to ask Grandpa. Grandpa says a stork delivers them to your doorstep overnight. But the only thing at the boy’s doorstep every morning is the mail. So he asks the mailman. Roberto thinks they come from eggs, but he doesn’t know where to get the eggs. All of this is very confusing. Finally the little boy asks his mom and dad where babies come from. The explain that the baby is inside Mom. It started as a seed from Dad which was planted in an egg inside Mom. It grows there until there is no more room and it’s ready to be born. Then Mom goes to the hospital. So the boy thinks back to everything he’s been told. Olive was right about the seed and Roberto was right about the egg. Mrs. McClure was right about the hospital. But Grandpa didn’t have a clue, so the little boy decides he has to tell Grandpa where babies really come from!

Sophie Blackall presents a story which is sweet and funny and absolutely appropriate for young children questioning where babies come from. The innocence of the little boy and his confusion upon hearing so many different answers is paired with the lovely illustrations. Sophie Blackall not only answers this question, there are other pressing questions about babies in the back of the book, each with a simple and direct answer.

I love the boy’s persistence at getting the right answer to his question where babies come from. But I really love how he has the need to explain it to his grandpa! The artwork is endearing and heightens the innocence of the boy’s quest to find the truth. Each answer seems so appropriate for the person offering it to the little boy.

Here Comes Santa Cat

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

18701595

Here Comes Santa Cat written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Claudia Rueba (2014)

Cat dresses up as Santa Claus so that he can give himself a present. As his pie chart indicates, Cat has been very, very naughty. As a matter of fact, it shows that he was only about 4% nice. He still needs to practice coming down the chimney and how to use a jet pack to fly without getting hurt. But worse yet, he finds out that Santa gives presents to other people, not himself. So Cat does what he can to redeem himself at the last possible moment, Christmas Eve. Christmas caroling doesn’t go so well, neither does gift giving (it seems children don’t especially like fish for presents), and decorating the tree in the town square is disastrous. Poor Cat, things aren’t looking too good for him. Then he receives two cans of tuna tied up with pretty green bows. Just then, a crying kitten shows up. Reluctantly, Cat gives the kitten one of his cans of tuna. And because Cat did something nice, Santa brings him an official Santa’s Helper suit. Donning his new outfit, Cat finds a gift to give Santa and ends up riding in the back of Santa’s sleigh.

Deborah Underwood uses her own unique way of asking questions and talking directly to the main character to tell Cat’s story.

Claudia Rueba tells the reader everything that Cat cannot say for himself. Cat communicates with his signs. His every thought is captured in his expressions.

I loved Easter Cat published earlier this year and couldn’t wait to get a copy of Here Comes Santa Cat … I was not disappointed! This book is just as charming as its predecessor. Cat is  an open-hearted character who, despite his flaws, is lovable and honest.  And I love the question and answer format of the storytelling. It’s fun to read and leaves opportunity for the readers to discuss as they go along.

Nothing Ever Happens at the South Pole

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

13614650

Nothing Ever Happens at the South Pole written and illustrated by Stan and Jan Berenstain (2012)

Penguin receives a journal in the mail. He is told to write in it everyday. He grabs the journal and goes for a walk, but all he does is boring, ordinary, things. None of these things is worthy of being written in his journal. He imagines that if his life were more exciting, there would be interesting things to write in his journal. Little does he know that each of those ordinary things became extraordinary as he passed them by. They actually were more similar to his imagination than he thought, but he dismisses them as unworthy writing ideas. So he goes to bed thinking that nothing every happens at the South Pole, but hoping that tomorrow might be a better day for writing.

This book was originally written in 1962 by Stan and Jan Berenstain as a follow-up to The Big Honey Hunt. However, the popularity of the Berenstain Bears in their first book led to a series, and the South Pole book was stored away in favor of the bears. The Berenstains wrote over 250 books in the series with Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Brother Bear, and Sister Bear. It wasn’t until after the death of Stan Berenstain, that Nothing Ever Happens at the South Pole was discovered in their basement archives. So with the help of her son Mike, Jan Berenstain finished the book. It was published 50 years after its original conception.

I love the story of the little penguin who is blind to what is really happening around him and who doesn’t trust his own story writing ability in the first place. And I’m so happy that Jan and her son, Mike Berenstain found it before it was too late and offered it to a new generation of Berenstain fans.

Penguin Cha-Cha

Tags

, , , , , ,

15927564

Penguin Cha-Cha written and illustrated by Kristi Valiant (2013)

Julia loved sit high in a tree and watch the Saturday shows at the zoo. One day, when a dancer lost her boa, Julia noticed a sneaky flipper snatch it away. She followed the penguins back to their cove, but she found no sign of the hats, fans, or bows. So she decided to disguise herself as a penguin and see if she couldn’t get to the bottom of this mystery. But she was disappointed when the penguins all stared at her  like frozen penguin popsicles. She even tried to elist the help of a dancing hippo, but the penguins didn’t budge. Giving it one last shot, Julia dressed up and taught the penguins how to dance the cha-cha. Suddenly she heard the sound of penguins dancing… ‘Tap, flap, cha-cha-cha. Tap, flap, cha-cha-cha.’ They danced all day long.

Kristi Valiant has brought to life the behind-the-scenes antics of dancing penguins. Her words and pictures tell us the story of those sneaky birds and their dancing secret. And if you watch carefully, you might see the tricky monkeys swipe the magician’s hat for their own.

I adore the whole idea of graceful dancing penguins. They seem so clumsy on land when we see them normally. I wonder what they are hiding and why. Share this book with your little budding dancers, and I bet you’ll find that penguins aren’t the only ones hiding their talent behind a frozen facade.

The Last Christmas Tree

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

18637192

The Last Christmas Tree written by Stephen Krensky and illustrated by Pascal Campion (2014)

Wedged between two large trees on the Christmas tree lot, as one small tree that was a bit bent and missing a few branches. But no tree in the lot had more Christmas spirit than this one. The littlest tree shook with excitement at being chosen to go home and covered with lights and ornaments. But no one stopped to look at it. Still the little tree kept hoping for just the right person to come by and take him home. The lot got emptier and emptier, and still no one noticed the little tree. Finally, after all the other trees were sold, a sign hung on this little lonely tree. It said, ‘FREE’ and still it sat alone in the cold. Then just before dawn it was scooped up and flown overhead to a place far away. And when it arrived, it was decorated and placed in front of a fireplace.

Stephen Krensky and Pascal Campion worked magic on this book. It’s sure to become a classic. The story is told so simply and poetically. The art work is endearing. But the big surprise comes at the end when the reader sees through the artist’s work, who takes the last Christmas tree home. Hint: The stockings over the fireplace have the initials D-D-P-V-C-C-D-B on them. Ho-Ho-Ho!

I absolutely fell in love with this book the very first time I read it, about 2 minutes ago. And I plan on getting a copy for each of my grandchildren this year.

Maple and Willow Together

Tags

, , , , , , ,

18966220

Maple and Willow Together written and illustrated by Lori Nichols (2014)

This is the follow up to the delightful story Maple published earlier this year. Maple was Lori Nichols debut picture book. You can read my review of Maple HERE.

In this book, Maple and her little sister Willow do everything together. They play together, sleep together, and even have their own special language together. But one day, Maple gets angry and Willow gets angry and they are sent to their rooms alone. The girls don’t like being alone, and make-up across the hallway. Pretty soon they are playing outside together and sleeping together in the same bed.

Lori Nichols has done it again! This second book is just as warm and loving as her first book. The relationship between the sisters is so real. And the artwork is beautiful. It shows how sisters can be each other’s best friends even when they don’t always get along.

I love this story and I think you will too. I can’t wait to share it with my granddaughter who just became a big sister last month!

The Book With No Pictures

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Here’s another book I’ve been dying to read! The concept of a picture book without pictures was intriguing to say the least. Then I saw the excerpt of B.J. Novak reading from his book to a room full of children had me sold on the idea. Watch here for yourself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cREyQJO9EPs

20821299

The Book With No Pictures written by B.J. Novak (2014)

B.J. Novak has written a picture book with no pictures brilliantly! This is a perfect read-aloud book. He begins by letting the reader know there are no pictures, but the upside is that the reader must read every single word in the book exactly as written. Now, the listening child gets to hear the adult reader saying things like ‘I am a monkey who taught myself to read’ and ‘My only friend in the whole wide world is a hippo named Boo Boo Butt’. The reader must sing, use silly voices, and read nonsense words all because they are written in the book. In addition to using words like ‘ridiculous’ and ‘preposterous’, the reader must play into the fun of reading with their child.

I think my favorite page is the middle spread. “…and also, the kid I’m reading this book to is THE BEST KID EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE ENTIRE WORLD…” Now who wouldn’t want to hear this every time the book gets read to them? No one I know!

Get yourself a copy of this book and share it with ‘the best kid ever in the history of the entire world’!

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

Tags

, , , , , , ,

How many of you have been looking forward to reading this book as much as I have?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBJVZuMd6R8

20708761

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen (2014)

 Sam and Dave decide to dig a hole one day. They take their shovels, a canteen of chocolate milk, and a kerchief of animal crackers. They plan on digging until they find something spectacular. They leave their house and proceed to dig next to a small apple tree. Their trusty dog goes with them. They never do find anything spectacular, but they do end up digging completely through the earth and falling back home through the sky.

Mac Barnett has given substance to the childhood belief that you can dig a hole to the other side of the world.

Jon Klassen shows us just how close they actually come to finding spectacular things in the ground before they change directions and eventually give up. It’s their dog who senses what lies buried in the dirt and digs them through to the end. Look carefully at the first and last pictures to see just how different their home is from the beginning to the end of the story.

I love the creativity of the story. It works so well in both text and illustrations. The irony of how close the boys are to discovering something spectacular under the ground is not lost on young readers. And the dog’s persistence is the catalyst which propels them to a new place. Have they actually reached the opposite side of the world where things look familiar, but have very different details?

Wimbley the Wonder Boy

Tags

, , , , , ,

One of the best things about having a blog is making friends and connections from around the blogsphere. One friend I have made this year is having her first book published in less than two days! She sent me an advance reader copy to preview before its release date. And, I am honored to share it with you today…

Wimbley the Wonder Boy

wimbley-cover

written by Angela Hawkins and illustrated by Holly Blackman (2014)

Wimbley has an active imagination. He wonders about so many things. He wonders about everything from where do crayons go after you flush them down the potty to what really happens when you call 911. But his biggest wonder is how long his mother will love him. ‘Now and Forever’ she assures him!

Angela has captured the questioning mind of a child. She also set this story in one week’s time so that while children wonder about things like Wimbley does, they also follow the progression from Monday to Tuesday and so on to Sunday. She voices the same worries many children have, but through this format also leaves room for children to discuss things they wonder about as they read this story with their parents or caregivers.

Holly Blackman uses simple drawings that look like crayon drawings of a child to portray the childlike innocence of these questions. Wimbley’s world is easily identifiable to a young child, making the transition from his world to their own seamless.

 I like the connections between real-life questions young children have and the pages of this book. It is fun to read and share with a child, especially as a springboard for discussing their own worldly questions.

Wimbley the Wonder Boy will be available on Amazon starting Monday, November 3, 2014.

If you would like to follow Angela on wordpress. You can find thislittlebirdie HERE.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,161 other followers