Friday, December 28, 2012

My Garden By: Kevin Henkes

In this Kevin Henkes book My Garden you get a chance to see a little girl and how she imagines her very own garden would be.  Her mother has a garden that is very hard work but her garden would be one of wonder and whimsy!  Her flowers in her garden would change color by just thinking about it, and there would be no rabbits in her garden stealing lettuce instead there would be chocolate bunnies for her to eat!  "If I planted jelly beans, I'd grow a great big jelly bean bush."  "The tomatoes would be as big as beach balls, and the carrots invisible because I don't like carrots."  This little girls idea of her perfect garden lights up my child's eyes and brings such wide grins to their little round faces.  This book really sparks a child's imagination.  The illustrations are fun and adorable.  This book is definitely worth a read especially when it is winter and you are dreaming of warmer times in your garden!

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Charlie Brown Christmas By: Charles M. Shulz

Merry Christmas to everyone!  And thank you to everyone who has read my blog this year!

A Charlie Brown Christmas is an iconic tradition and one that I have personally grown to love more and more each year.  Besides the fact that the book and movie are filled with all kinds of humor and make you reminisce about being a kid it is also filled with such a wonderful lesson. The peanut gang are a must at any holiday and they have wisdom beyond their years! I love how they get passed all the "commercialism" that is weighing down Charlie Brown's spirits and find the true meaning of Christmas.

Every time we hear the piano music from the movie that Schroeder plays we can't help but do the silly dances from the Peanut Gang!    

I think we all remember lines from this movie "Of all the Charlie Browns in the world you are the Charlie Browniest", "Oh, no. My own dog has gone commercial. I can't stand it", and Sally asking Charlie Brown to write a letter to Santa "How about tens and twenties?".

The best part of this great story is hearing Linus give his speech about what Christmas truly means and watching Charlie Brown thinking he has killed the little tree he rescued only to find his friends making the tree the happiest, little Christmas tree they ever saw!  And it ends with the whole gang singing Hark, the herald angels together around the tree.

It's never too early to introduce your kids to such a wonderful book that captures what is right and wrong with Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Spirit of Christmas By: Nancy Tillman

 Another beautiful story by Nancy Tillman the author of On The Night You Were Born.

Follow the Spirit of Christmas through amazing scenes and beautiful passages spoken about Christmas and all the brilliant things that arouse such a spirit in all of us!  But as we all know without our family and the special people in our lives Christmas won't feel like Christmas in your heart! Flown across many pages in this book are passages of beautiful Christmas carols.  It is so much fun to start singing each carol and see if you little ones can sing one of the beloved Christmas songs with you!

Have fun with your children finding the spirit of Christmas hidden on each page.  This book is really delightful and is a perfect way to end each night during the Christmas season.    You won't be disappointed with this great book and the happiness it will bring to you and your child!  I believe one of the best gifts you can give your kiddos is reading to them as often as you can!  And it costs practically nothing!  Here is to a Season of giving with love and nurturing what is truly important in life!

The face of the Spirit of Christmas is hidden in the snowball

"And so then, my darling, wherever you roam, may you always be safe...may you always come home.
For as long as the world still spins and still hums, wherever you are, and no matter what comes, the best part of Christmas will always beneath my Christmas tree."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Santa Claus By: Rod Green Illustrated by: Jon Lucas and Carol Wright

This is a book I bought before my daughter was born.  I knew even as an adult how much enjoyment this book would provide for my children.

The book is full of facts about the North Pole and its animals, how the elves work and play, Santa's house, the mail room, Santa's workshop, Mrs. Claus's cookies, all the reindeer including Rudolph, Santa's Magic Snowsuit, Santa's Sleigh,  how he travels and deliver the presents and much, much more!  The book has letters you can open and read and stickers to use.  It includes a spot to play peek-a-boo with an elf, and a pull out on the animals of the Arctic.  Your children will be mesmerized by this book and will spend lots of time looking over each page!  It is a great addition to Christmas time and it explains a lot of the magic behind Santa but is also very informative and factual.  I think at any age a child would appreciate this book!  Isabela as a one year old was stuck on the page with the Elves having their Christmas Day party.  Both my girls love pulling this book out each year with our holiday things and reading it over and over again!  There are secrets on every page and lots of fun to be had with this book! 

Santa's Diary and a pull out route map too!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Polar Express Written & Illustrated by: Chris Van Allsburg

The Polar Express was read to me as a young child at school during the Christmas season.  Along time before it was a movie it was one of my absolute favorite books.  I remember I even wrote a letter to the author with the help of my teacher.  As a little girl I did believe in the spirit of Christmas and I hoped The Polar Express would come pick me up and take me to see Santa!

The little boy in the book gets to take the Polar Express to the North Pole.  He is then chosen to receive the first gift of Christmas.  He asks for a silver bell from Santa's sleigh.  You feel so terrible for him when you find that he has lost the bell after he gets back on the train because of a hole in his pocket. The train drops him back home and in the morning after opening all of his gifts he finds a small box at the back of the tree.  It is his bell with a letter from Santa! The boy and his sister can hear the magical sound of the bell but his parents can't.  The last page and paragraph is my favorite part of the book and would always bring a tear to my eye.

"At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them.  Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound.  Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe."

Such a profound concept!  It is so important to me that my children's imaginations flourish and that the magic of their childhood lasts as long as possible.  It is only once that we are truly innocent and it should not be taken away too quickly instead it should be fostered and encouraged! Reading helps kids believe that anything is possible!  Happy reading and a Very Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Pussycat's Christmas By: Margaret Wise Brown Illustrated by: Anne Mortimer

What child doesn't like a cute cat and a great Christmas story? Well this book has got both.  Go on a journey with a pussycat who loves snow and get a vivid description about how she perceives the holiday of Christmas.  The illustrations are adorable and lovely and the verses are melodic.

The picture of the pussycat getting into the gift wrapping and playing with the Christmas ornaments is spot on.  Anyone with a cat can picture theirs doing the same with their big black eyes ready to pounce on anything that moves or rustles.  My little Emy thinks it is so neat that the cat eats snow just like her!  Pussycat even catches a glimpse of Santa in his sleigh way up in the night sky. The story ends with her sleeping all curled up with a present left by Santa waiting for her when she wakes.

 "For if there was anything that this little cat loved, it was the cold, dry, fresh, white, wild, and feathery, powdery snow. She went pouncing around in it, bouncing with joy. And she at some of it. And she rolled in it and dug in it and played with it."

By the author of Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Morris's Disappearing Bag A Christmas Story by: Rosemary Wells

One of the funniest Christmas stories that is a favorite in this house is Morris's Disappearing Bag.  By the author of Max & Ruby this book is a funny look at how siblings get along and share their gifts on Christmas. 

Morris is the youngest and none of his older three siblings want to share their presents with him and they aren't in the least bit interested in his teddy bear he got.  So while they use each others gifts Max becomes more and more depressed.  He sits under the tree while his family is eating and he sees one last gift left unopened. It was a disappearing bag and in he went.  His siblings start searching for him and when he reappears they can't wait to try the bag out.  So Morris opens the bag and in they disappeared while Morris gets to use all of their gifts without anyone else around!

 "Bedtime.!" said Morris.  "May I use the bag tomorrow?" asked Rose "I want to sleep in it tonight," said Betty. "Morris," said Victor, "I hope you remember where you put the bag."  But Morris was already fast asleep.  Now don't we all wish we had a bag like that for holidays and birthdays?  Imagine using your brothers or sisters gifts while they disappeared!

Here is to a Merry Christmas in this wonderful season of giving and sharing!  

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz By: L. Frank Baum Pictures By: W.W. Denslow

This blog is dedicated to my daughter Isabela turning five on Friday.  She is having a Wizard of Oz theme for her party and she will grace us as Glinda the good witch.  My youngest will be her supporting cast coming as Dorothy, in tow with Toto.

Late this summer we picked up the annotated version with the original drawings and the original text.  We read it from front to back and enjoyed every minute of it.  Everyday we tried to read at least two chapters and discuss the differences between the movie and the book.  Our reward for finishing the book was to have a movie party with the original movie and lots of snacks! We also watched the Disney movie Return to Oz (which was a favorite of mine growing up) based on the third Oz book Ozma of Oz.

There are fourteen books in the series written by Baum.  I read the introduction which gave a great biography on the author and illustrator.  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is an imaginative and wonderful book! A map of all the countries of Oz as well as there corresponding colors are in the front of the book for reference as you read your way through the land.  I try to picture a child in the early 1900's receiving this book.  They were probably blown away by the dream like story. I can see why so many children wrote to the author asking for more tales from Oz. I adore the pictures in this book. It is an enchanting tale to share with your children and one they will never forget.

The 1939 movie does not include many of the fun details included in the book.  It is amazing how many things were left out. Some interesting things that were left out of the movie:  Dorothy wore silver shoes not ruby red shoes.  There is a special Golden Cap that Dorothy gets after defeating the wicked witch that allows her to call upon the Monkey's for help.  The Mice help the friends escape from the Poppy fields.  When Dorothy, Toto, Tin Woodman, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion make it to the Emerald City they are made to put on green glasses. 

 Happy Birthday to my precious book worm Isabela!

My daughter Emma called the Lion the Canterby Lion and on our walks liked to pretend she was being chased by the wicked witch!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Money We'll Save By: Brock Cole

The Money We'll Save is a comical tale of a father who is told to go to the market for two eggs and a half a pound of flour and to not spend a penny more because Christmas was coming "and we must save every penny".   Well Pa comes back to their flat with a turkey poult.  He convinces his wife and children that it will fatten up to a nice bird to eat for Christmas dinner.  "Think of the money we'll save!"  He tells the family it will live in a box and all we need to feed it is table scraps.  Ma is skeptical to say the least.  The turkey "Alfred" grows big and ends up being a menace to their small apartment, their kids, and their neighbor Mrs. Schumacher from upstairs. Pa's ideas of how to keep the turkey out of their way turn into amusing messes.  When Christmas finally arrives the children can't bare the idea of eating Alfred.  And they can't imagine keeping him either.  They come up with the perfect solution.  Give the turkey to Mrs. Schumacher. "What with his messes and eating everything in sight, Alfred reminded her not a little of the late Mr. Schumacher."  As for the family they cleaned up their tiny flat, put up a modest tree, and each child received one gift. They ate oatmeal for dinner.  "But it isn't much of a holiday feast, it it? said Pa sadly. Ah, but think of the money we saved, said Ma, and she gave him a kiss because it was Christmas."

My kids always get a kick out of all the messes Alfred makes!  I also like to read this book and explain to the girls the importance of being frugal with money and point out how happy they children are to get that one special gift they really wanted. It really is a wonderful Christmas book that will be a tradition for us for years to come!

 Here is to the beginning of a wonderful holiday season!