Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Book Review: 'Itsy Bitsy Christmas' by Max Lucado

✰✰✰½ Itsy and Bitsy are two little mice who live in Bethlehem. When a donkey tells them that the King is coming to town, the mice want to meet Him. Their friends at the stable are doubtful. Why would a King come to Bethlehem? But Itsy and Bitsy are determined to find Him. They search everywhere, but the King is nowhere to be found. When they finally return to the stable, the donkey is there with a surprise for everyone, including the littlest of them all.

The Bottom Line: Written with gentle humor, the story of the coming of Christ is told from the point of view of two of God's littlest creatures. This holiday read features colorful illustrations by Bruno Merz and is written by bestselling Christian author, Max Lucado. Share it on Christmas Eve with kids ages 5 - 8.

Details: Itsy Bitsy Christmas written by Max Lucado & illustrated by Bruno Merz. Picture book published by Tommy Nelson in 2013. 32 p. ISBN: 978-1-4003-2262-6

Monday, July 20, 2020

Book Review: 'The Christmas Bears' by Chris Conover

✰✰✰✰✰ The Bears are enjoying holiday baking and decorating as Pa makes toys in his workshop. On Christmas Eve, their friends come over for supper. There are treats galore, but soon Pa is off and away in his sleigh. There are toys to deliver, and it's time for the little ones to go to bed. When the cubs wake up, they discover it's a very special day for all.

The Bottom Line: The rhyming text makes this picture book easy to read for beginners, but the illustrations are the real treat. With lots of details and Christmas colors of red and green, the illustrations will draw you in. I especially enjoyed the map showing where all the different types of bears and their friends come from too. This is one story you'll read over and over with your little one. Enthusiastically recommended holiday reading for kids ages 3 - 8.

Details: The Christmas Bears written & illustrated by Chris Conover. Picture book published by Farrar Straus Giroux in 2008. 40 P. ISBN: 9780374332754

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Book Review: 'Christmas in the Barn' by Margaret Wise Brown

✰✰✰½ Two travelers seek shelter in a barn after being told there is no room at the inn. The barn is warm, and there are many animals, but they are safe all together. Soon a baby is born and a bright star guides three wise men to the barn. Shepherds and sheep also arrive to see the child sleeping in the hay. Everyone is safe in that ancient barn, and all is well.

The Bottom Line: First published in 1952, bestselling children's author Margaret Wise Brown retells the story of Mary, Joseph, and the birth of Christ as perhaps a child would. Loosely illustrated paintings in oil, pastel, pencil, and marker accentuate this spare story with rhyming text. This simple story of the Nativity is ideal for ages 3 - 6.

Details: Christmas in the Barn written by Margaret Wise Brown & illustrated by Anna Dewdney. Newly illustrated edition published by Harper in 2016. 40 p. ISBN: 978-0-06-237986-3

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Book Review: 'Angelina's Christmas' by Katharine Holabird

✰✰✰✰½ As Angelina Ballerina returns home from school, she notices one house that seems cold and dark. She asks her mum about it. It turns out the house belongs to the old postman, Mr. Bell, who lives there all alone. With her father and reluctant little cousin, Henry, in tow, Angelina decides to bring some holiday cheer to the old man. While the Mouselings decorate the Christmas tree, Mr. Bell prepares a surprise of his own for them and teaches Henry that a little kindness goes a long way.

The Bottom Line: Little fans of the Angelina Ballerina series will be charmed by this sweet story of friendship, kindness, and finding the true meaning of Christmas. Craig's engaging and detailed illustrations help tell this magical tale. Highly recommended seasonal reading for children ages 3 - 8.

Details: Angelina's Christmas written by Katharine Holabird & illustrated by Helen Craig. Picture book published by Pleasant Company Publications in 2000. 24 p. ISBN: 1-58485-140-6

Monday, July 6, 2020

Book Review: 'Merry Un-Christmas' written by Mike Reiss & illustrated by David Catrow

✰✰✰✰½ Can there ever be too many Christmas presents? Too much turkey? Yes, there can. Just ask Noelle.  Noelle lives in Christmas City, which means it is Christmas 364 days a year. Most kids would be delighted, but Noelle wishes for Un-Christmas Day instead.

Un-Christmas Day is the one day a year she can go to school, eat TV dinners, and get letters from the mailman. Oh, what fun it is to put away the Christmas tree too. In fact, it's so much fun, Noelle wishes it could be Un-Christmas Day every day of the year!

The Bottom Line: It's easy to think the grass is always greener on the other side of the mountain, but is it really? It's just something to consider in this charming Christmas picture book filled with colorful and humorous illustrations. This fun book is enthusiastically recommended for story time and bed time holiday reading.

Details: Merry Un-Christmas written by Mike Reiss & illustrated by David Catrow. Picture book published by HarperCollins Publishers in 2006. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-06-059127-4

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Book Review: 'Aggie Morton: Mystery Queen: The Body Under the Piano' by Marthe Jocelyn

✰✰✰½ When well-to-do, but shy, Aggie Morton discovers a body, the young girl quickly learns to accept getting out of her comfort zone. With the help of a young boy from Belgium, the new friends begin to uncover the clues to solving the crime. Unfortunately, the police seem to be following the clues down a different path. With time running out, the timid young girl and her foreign friend must sort everything out before danger befalls them as well. Pick up this mystery set in the seaside town of Torquay, England in 1902 for a tale of adventure and mischief.

The Bottom Line: This middle grade novel is a sweet nod to the real Queen of Mystery (Agatha Christie) and one of her leading characters (Hercule Poirot). While the beginning was a bit slow, the story picked up the pace in the middle and end for a surprising ending. Young fans of mystery and historical fiction will enjoy these characters in this new mystery series.

Details: Aggie Morton: Mystery Queen: The Body Under the Piano by Marthe Jocelyn. Hardcover published by Tundra in 2020. 336 p. ISBN: 978-0-7352-6546-2 NOTE: I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This was made possible via the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. 

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Book Review: 'The Rookie' by Jim Morris & Joel Engel

✰✰✰ Coach Jimmy Morris was a popular high school sports coach. Unfortunately, in a place where football was revered, baseball was mocked. So when his high school baseball team wasn’t taking things too seriously, he made a deal: If the team could win the local championship, he would try out for major league baseball...again. He didn’t think much about it after that; after all, he was just trying to motivate the team. But something he said struck a chord with his kids. As he pitched for them, they started winning games. The team kept their part of the bargain, and now it was his turn.

When Jimmy showed up at tryouts with his kids in tow, everyone was doubtful as to what he had to offer. He was a middle-aged father of three, who had had multiple surgeries and injuries. Nevertheless, he was given the chance to pitch last, and people took notice. The rest is baseball history. If you’ve ever dreamed of something that seems unreachable, pick up this book for a shot of inspiration.

The Bottom Line: This motivational read is a sports story, an underdog story, and a love story all rolled into one. Morris is honest about sharing his hopes and dreams as well as doubts and failures. Even though the focus is on Jimmy, Lorri’s story shines through too. Recommended for sports fans and Big League hopefuls.

Details: The Rookie: The Incredible True Story of a Man Who Never Gave Up On His Dream by Jim Morris & Joel Engel (formerly published as The Oldest Rookie: Big-League Dreams from a Small-Town Guy). Paperback published by Grand Central Publishing in 2002. 288 p. ISBN: 978-0-446-67837-7