Tag Archives: Santa

Batteries Not Included

8 Dec

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What might be in this small package, you say? The answer: 2 packages of AAA batteries and 1 package of 9V batteries. They should have been included in the gift I dropped off at the church last Sunday, but I forgot them. Now, I have to rummage through the pile of gifts to find the box of battling boxing robots for a dear little 7 year old boy who asked Santa for a robot for Christmas. And who wants two robots with remote controls and no batteries? No one, that’s who! I should have opened the box and put them in the controllers before they were wrapped. Ah, well, I’m pretty sure a 7 year old can handle that part himself. And when he gets tired of playing with his robots, he’s also got a Star Wars Mad Libs and a Jedi Academy interactive journal to keep him happily occupied.

Merry Christmas, Little Buddy! (sorry about the batteries)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

23 Dec

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer written by Robert L. May and illustrated by Antonio Javier Caparo (2014)

Take another look at Rudolph. His story remains the same, written in 1939 by Robert L. May. Each generation has its own favorite edition. This is the newest, and one of the most beautiful I’ve seen. Illustrated by Antonio Javier Caparo, this book immediately draws in the reader with its paintings. The richness of the scenery and the child-like qualities of the characters play opposite each other to create a beautiful and yet whimsical place in time.

As the story goes, Rudolph is excluded from the rest of the herd because of his shiny red nose. But he was always good and kind, and went to bed on Christmas Eve hopeful that Santa would visit and leave him candy and toys.

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While up at the North Pole, Santa is worried about the foggy night ahead. 81GNNuz3-7L

The illustration of Santa leaving the North Pole, flying over the polar bears, seals, and norwhal, is gorgeous.

81h4PSs5i0LThe fog is so bad, Santa barely missed a speeding plane. And when he lands, he can hardly see the street signs and house numbers. Santa finally makes his way to Rudolph’s house and climbs down his chimney.

santa-2And, as they say the rest is history! Santa sees the glow from Rudolph’s red nose and asks Rudolph to guide his sleigh. All the presents got delivered in time and the next morning, Rudolph returns home, the envy of all the other reindeer. He proudly lands Santa sleigh in the field and everyone watches on as Santa appoints Rudolph Commander-in-chief. From that year on, whenever the weather is bad, it’s Rudolph Santa calls to guide his sleigh.

A Cookie for Santa

20 Dec

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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.

Here Comes Santa Cat

1 Dec

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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.

The Last Christmas Tree

30 Nov

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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.

Thank You, Santa

26 Dec

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This is one of my favorite after-Christmas storybooks!  It is almost 10 years old now, but just as relevant as it was when it was first published.  I used to read it every year in my classroom when we returned from our winter break.

A little background for you…Before the kids left in December, I sent home a note saying they were allowed to bring one item to school in January that they could share with the class.  And I talked about it with them ahead of time.  They understood that meant only one item, that said item must be something they received over the holidays, that we were going to talk about our items during the morning meeting (which meant morning meeting was going to go on, and on, and on that day… oh well, if you can’t beat them join them), and that it should not be the most expensive item they had received because we were going to share these items in the group.  This was actually a pretty popular homework assignment, and we hardly ever had anyone who forgot to bring something.  On occasion, some poor child did forget, but they still got a chance to talk to the group about their favorite gift.

So, now we’re all up to speed… On the first day back, the kids were exploding with excitement and I was prepared!  We sat in a circle, read the morning message from me welcoming them back for the new year and describing a special item I had received that year.  I would share my item, usually a book or scarf or new ornament for the tree.  Then I would tell them who gave it to me and why I liked it so much.  Then it was their turn.  Every child told us about a special gift they had brought to class. We would pass it around the circle and the child would talk about who gave it to them and why it was special.  There were lots of gifts from Santa, mom & dad, grandparents, etc.  Seriously, this took ALL morning!

After lunch, I read Thank You, Santa by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Kerry Argent.  This book was published in 1994 and is simply one of the best books I have read to introduce students to letter writing.  The illustrations are gorgeous and the kids are mesmerized by the story.  In this story Santa and a little girl, Samantha, exchange letters every month for a year, so there are a total of 12 letters written in two hands spanning two pages each.  Starting in January, Samantha writes a thank you letter to Santa for the gifts she received.  He is so thrilled to actually get a letter in January, that he writes her a letter in February.  They continue back and forth writing letters each month for the whole year.  Another wonderful element of the story is that Samantha lives in Australia so her seasons are the opposite of those in the northern hemisphere, giving us another layer to enjoy in this story.  Santa teaches her about the animals living near the north pole and she is worried about Santa’s littlest reindeer at the North Pole and the polar bear living in the zoo in Australia.  Many of the letters are part of gift packages that Santa and Samantha send to each other throughout the year as well.  Her last letter to Santa is her wish for snow for the polar bear at her zoo (in her December summer).  The final illustration shows us how Santa grants her Christmas wish.

Of course in the classroom, we talk a bit about the 12 months of the year.  But the biggest lesson I prepared is letter writing.  We spend another good portion of the day introducing letter writing – the reasons to write a letter and the five parts of a friendly letter.  Before the students go home for the day, they draw a picture of the gift they shared with the class and make a very quick word web surrounding the picture including the name of the person who gave them the gift and some important information about the gift.

All of the gifts go home at the end of the day with another note from me asking parents to send me the complete name and mailing address of the gift giver.  We spend the rest of the week writing our thank you notes and envelopes.  At the end of the week, I send these home to parents with instructions to read their child’s letters and to please add the stamp to the envelope.  Some children have informed me that their parents also sent a photo of them playing with the gifts to the gift givers.

I hope you get a chance to read and enjoy this fabulous book!

On a note of full disclosure…. in my last few years of teaching, I had a scripted reading program which left me no time during reading class to be creative.  However, and I’m sure some of you have already figured this out, I started using only our writing time and used this book to introduce the concept. The point is, if it is something you love, you make time to do it!  I used great books to introduce writing, science, social studies, and even math concepts.  You can too!

If you like this post, don’t forget to comment and please share it with your friends!

Dear Santa

7 Dec

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Dear Santa,

Books, Books, Books!  I love books!  Here are some of the top picture books for this year and some websites for you to look at for more ideas.  I know books are heavy, so if you want to save your back, I would be just as happy with gift cards to local bookshops!  Thank you, Santa… you’re the best!

Love,

Paige Turner

P.S. When you’re finished with these don’t forget to peruse the adult aisles for mom and dad.

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Best Picture Book Lists for 2013

Association for Library Service to Children

http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/notalists/ncb

Goodreads Choice Awards                  

https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-picture-books-2013

Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/minhle/best-picture-books-of-201_b_4378532.htmlNPR’s

Best of Kids Books                                                      

http://apps.npr.org/best-books-2013/#/tag/kids-books

New York Times                                        

http://www.slj.com/2013/11/reviews/best-of/slj-best-books-2013-picturebooks/#_

Publishers Weekly

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/59926-pw-s-best-children-s-books-of-2013.html

School Library Journal

http://www.slj.com/2013/11/reviews/best-of/slj-best-books-2013-picturebooks/#_

 

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