Thursday, December 14, 2006

On the Ninth Day of Christmas . . .

I'm posting a few of these post-Christmas because I prepared them before Christmas and didn't have access to publish them as often as I thought I would.

Anyway, last, but not least is Welcome Comfort by Patricia Polacco.
This is another unusual Christmas tale because the main character, Welcome Comfort, is a foster child who is befriended by the school janitor. I don't want to spoil any suprises but I love Polocco's idea of who Santa Claus really is.

On the Eighth Day of Christmas . . .

I've been focusing on some lesser-known titles so I wasn't even going to mention The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, but I just can't bring myself to leave this off the list. Forget about the monstrocity of a movie created with the same name. Oh no! Instead curl with the book and some hot chocolate and you'll be greatly rewarded.

On the Seventh Day of Christmas . . .

Wombat Devine by Mem Fox is a good Christmas story for the younger set. Poor wombat wants to be part of the Christmas pageant, but bumbles all the parts he tries to play, the rest of the animals work with him and they come up with an idea for wambat to be included too.

On the Sixth Day of Christmas . . .

Author Illustrator Grace Lin and her husband Robert got several illustrators to decorate snowflakes which were auctioned off to raise money for cancer research. in order for more people than the lucky new owners to enjoy the snowflakes they created this beautiful book. You can read more about it here

Even the end papers are amazing
It's fun to look for illustrations by some of your favorite illustrators like this one by Ian Falconer.
Since the proceeds are going to such a great cause, you have a good excuse to add it to your collection!

On the Fifth day of Christmas . . .

I present Robert Sabuda's Christmas books. I can't choose between them. I recommend them all. They're a little too delicate for toddlers' hands, but that's just a good excuse to sit them on your lap and read these books to them. I am in awe of everything Robert Sabuda creates.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Night Before Christmas
The Christmas Alphabet
And his newest book, Christmas, which is actually a small book designed to be a stocking stuffer. It uses some of the Christmas Alphabet pop-ups to spell Christmas.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas . . .

The Tree of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polocco

Patricia Polocco has several holiday books, and this is certainly not the most popular, but it's my favorite. There aren't many picture books out there that involve both Christmas and Hannukah and this one combines them so beautifully.

I'm borrowing the publisher's description:

TRISHA LOVES THE eight days of Hanukkah, when her mother stays home from work, her Babushka makes delicious potato latkes, and her Grampa carves wonderful animals out of wood as gifts for Trisha and her brother. In the middle of her family's preparation for the festival of lights, Trisha visits her closest neighbors, expecting to find them decorating their house for Christmas. Instead they are all bedridden with scarlet fever. Trisha's family is one of the few who has been spared from the epidemic. It is difficult for them to enjoy their Hanukkah feast when they know that their neighbors won't be able to celebrate their holiday. Then Grampa has an inspiration: they will cut down trees, decorate them, and secretly deliver them to the neighbors. "But what can we decorate them with?" Babushka asks. Although it is a sacrifice, Trisha realizes that Grampa's carved animals are the perfect answer. Soon her living room is filled with trees-but that is only the first miracle of many during an incredible holiday season.
Based on a long cherished childhood memory, this story celebrates the miracle of true friendship.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

On the Third Day of Christmas . . .

I present one of my favorite Christmas picture books, The Amazing Christmas Extravaganza by David Shannon. Many of you are familiar with David Shannon's child-like illustrations, but your in for a treat with the gorgeous illustrations in this book.
Mr. Merriweather begins his holidays season with his usual strand of lights and wreath on the door, but after being goaded by a neighbor he becomes determined to put together an amazing Christmas Extravaganza. It gathers so much attention that is makes the neighbors anger and Mr. Merriweather is so caught up in decorating that he doesn't have time left for his family.

The books manages to be a good reminder to us all without getting too sentimental. It also ends on a humorous note that kids will enjoy.

Monday, December 11, 2006

On the Second Day of Christmas . . .

The six Herdman children have the reputation of being the worst kids in town so church members shudder when the Herdmans show up to be in the Christmas Pageant after hearing the cast gets free cake. I know this is a Christmas classic that most of you are familiar with, but I've been surprised the number of people that I've recently met who have not read this book. It's hilarious and heartwarming. This is a great book for those who wail that Christmas has become too commercial and want a reminder of what it's areally all about.

One of my best friends' family reads this together every Christmas because it one of the few Chrismtas books that appeals to both the young and old.

Friday, December 08, 2006

On the First Day of Christmas . . .

I know you're just all dying to know where my book reviews are. I been reading more than ever, but I've only been reading Cybil Award nominees, and I feel a little weird reviewing them here before my committee announces our five finalists (although I have reviewed a few of the nominees here in the past and I'm not going to remove my reviews). At any rate, I should have lots of reviews for you in January, but in the meantime I've decided to highlight a few of my favorite Christmas books.

I love receiving holiday treats from my friends and neighbors, but Larry and I are not the best bakers so instead of spending time in the kitchen we tend to alternate gifting forced bulbs or paperback Christmas books. This year, since so many of our neighbors have little ones, I selected Santa Claus The World's Number One Toy Expert by Marla Frazee so that's the first book that I'm going to highlight. If you you don't have a copy of this book in your collection it's a great one to pick up (or maybe you'll be getting one from me).
The book begins:

Then it goes on to cover how Santa carefully prepares for Christmas and has some hilarious illustrations of Santa testing the toys. My favorite line is, "He gives the exact right toy to the exact right kid, 99.9% of the time . . . no one is perfect. Not even Santa Claus." I can picture many a parent referring to this picture book when a child is upset that Santa didn't bring them what they wanted.

The illustrations are simple with a lot of white space and the text is short so it's a great book to read with a toddler, but older kids will enjoy it too because it's really quite funny and of course Marla Frazee's Santa is very endearing.

Brainstorming new topic ideas

We'll be voting on new topics next month so it's time to give some serious thought to what you would like to be reading. Here are the suggestions so far. Feel free to add more suggestions in the comments.
  • Fantasy
  • Classic authors (like Beatrix Potter)
  • Cybils finalists
  • Mystery
  • Westward progression or settlement of the West
  • Ohio/Columbus authors
  • New works by past favorites
  • Historical fiction
  • Favorite picture books
  • Robert McCloskey
  • Science fiction
  • Mother/daughter or mother/son stories (coming to terms)

Monday, December 04, 2006

January - Thief Books

So many books with "thief" in the title came up during our favorites month that we decided to read three Thief books for our January meeting.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusack

The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner