Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review: 'Lighthouse Christmas' by Toni Buzzeo

✰✰✰✰✰ The Flying Santa Service has been serving families since 1929. Toni Buzzeo brings this Christmas tradition to life with the story of two siblings. Frances and Peter are new to Ledge Light; their father is the lighthouse keeper. There are only two days until Christmas and the children wonder if Christmas will come to the island. With dwindling supplies, the chance for a festive holiday seems grim. When a nor'easter blows in, Frances must keep the light shining while her papa attempts to rescue a fisherman. The storm even keeps the much needed supply boats away. Yet, somehow without cookies, music, or fancy gifts the children learn about the true meaning of Christmas, especially when a surprise delivery is made to the island.

The Bottom Line: This story was inspired by a true holiday tradition that continues to this day. Buzzeo's heartfelt tale focuses on the importance of families and tradition. Meanwhile, Nancy Carpenter's illustrations are nostalgic with soft colors. Very highly recommended for kids in grades 1 - 4.

Details: Lighthouse Christmas written by Toni Buzzeo and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. Hardcover picture book published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 2011. 32 p. ISBN: 978-08037-3053-3

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review: 'Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas' by Julia Rawlinson

✰✰✰✰½ As Fletcher makes his way through the woods to the rabbit family's new burrow, he wonders how Santa Claus will ever find the new home. With the help of his animal friends, Fletcher devises a way to make a trail through the woods. However, when snow starts to fall and cover up the trail, Fletcher continues to worry. Fortunately, Santa always finds a way to deliver his presents much to Fletcher's surprise.

The Bottom Line: This is a charming tale for kids in grades K - 2. With a focus on friendship, little ones will learn that a little faith goes a long way. Kids will also love Tiphanie Beeke's soft and beautiful pastel illustrations. Enthusiastically recommended for Christmas Eve storytelling.

Details: Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas written by Julia Rawlinson and illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke. Hardcover picture book published by Greenwillow Books in 2010. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-06-199033-5

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Book Review: 'Christmas Farm' by Mary Lyn Ray

✰✰✰✰½ Wilma has grown flowers in her garden for many years. However, when winter arrives she decides that she needs a new challenge in the spring. Thus, she orders dozens of balsams for planting. Together with her five-year-old neighbor, Parker, they nurture the little trees. The years go by, and they keep track of how many trees survive. As Parker grows up, so do the trees until one year the trees are ready. The trees are tagged and sold to families looking for the perfect Christmas tree. The next spring, Wilma and Parker are ready to begin planting again.

The Bottom Line: This charming book is perfect for little ones wondering about how Christmas trees are grown and harvested. The story features a heartwarming friendship between two neighbors, one young and one old. It also emphasizes the value of hard work and patience. Beautiful, wintry illustrations in watercolor and gouache bring the story to life. Highly recommended for kids in grades K - 4.

Details: Christmas Farm written by Mary Lyn Ray & illustrated by Barry Root. Hardcover picture book published by Harcourt, Inc. in 2008. 40 p. ISBN: 978-0-15-216290-0

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book Review: 'Little Santa' by Jon Agee

✰✰✰✰ Little Santa lives at the North Pole with his family. There is always more wood to be chopped and snow to be shoveled at the North Pole. Little Santa loves it, but his family doesn't. On the night before his family moves to Florida, a terrible blizzard arrives and traps them all inside. Little Santa is the only one who can climb out of the chimney and go for help. Along the way he finds a very special reindeer and a houseful of helpful elves. With the help of his new friends, Little Santa rescues his family. Things are good for a while, but when winter rolls around again, Little Santa must make a choice. Will he move to Florida with his family or stay at the North Pole?

The Bottom Line: Jon Agee's sweet story is a different take on the story of Santa Claus. This is a fun story to read, especially for kids asking questions about Santa. Kids ages 2 - 5 will love the adorable illustrations and the story of Santa as a kid himself.

Details: Little Santa written & illustrated by Jon Agee. Hardcover picture book published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 2013. 40 p. ISBN: 978-0-8037-3906-2

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Book Review: 'Katie the Candy Cane Fairy Storybook by Tim Bugbird

✰✰✰✰ Katie Candy Cane is a singer who lives in Fairyland. Every year Katie and her sisters put on a festive holiday show that is famous throughout the land for its magical candy canes. But this year something goes awry. As rehearsals get underway, the stripes on the magic candy canes disappear. What will they do now that their groove is gone? With an audience waiting, they sisters decide there’s only one thing to do. The show must go on. Much to their surprise, the fairies discover that when you follow your heart, you can’t go wrong. 

The Bottom Line: This picture book is charming, cute, and festive. The vibrant illustrations will appeal to kids, especially girls, ages 4 – 7. The large print makes it easy for little ones to follow along too. This is just one of many Fairy Storybooks written by Tim Bugbird.

Details: Katie the Candy Cane Fairy Storybook written by Tim Bugbird and illustrated by Lara Ede. Hardcover picture book published by Make Believe Ideas in 2013. 32 p. ISBN: 978-1-78235-526-7

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book Review" 'The Christmas Cobwebs' by Odds Bodkin

✰✰✰✰ This take on the legend of the Christmas spider takes place in Chicago. When a shoemaker and his wife leave German, the only thing they bring to remind them of their homeland is a box of beautiful glass Christmas ornaments. Business is going well for the cobbler when a fire breaks out and destroys the cobbler's shop and home. The family escapes with just their lives and the precious box of ornaments. 

With nowhere else to go, the family moves into an abandoned shack filled with cobwebs. In order to start over, the shoemaker must make a decision to sell the ornaments. On Christmas Even when the family cuts down a fir tree, the children are saddened to learn about the fate of the ornaments. That night the spiders come out and work their magic transforming the tree into a Christmas miracle. The family wakes up to discover the true meaning of Christmas.

The Bottom Line: Each retelling of the legend of the Christmas spider is unique in its own way. Bodkin's story is charming with a focus on family and love. Together this gentle story and the beautiful illustrations reveal the true meaning of Christmas. Enthusiastically recommended holiday reading for kids ages 3 - 7.

Details: The Christmas Cobwebs written by Odds Bodkin & illustrated by Terry Widener. Hardcover picture book published by Gulliver Books in 2001. 32 p. ISBN: 0-15-201459-4

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Review: 'A Very Fuddles Christmas' by Frans Vischer

✰✰✰✰✰ Fuddles is a very pampered cat. He likes to eat and take naps. His life is purr-fect. Then one day he follows his nose to a delicious meal, but his family shoos him away. It's the same with the presents, treats, and twinkling tree. What's a cat to do? Fuddles decides to run and finds himself outside where it's cold and icy. To make matters worse, those pesky squirrels won't leave him alone. So up the tree he goes to chase them. When the squirrels jump, Fuddles jumps too. Then down, down, down the chimney he goes to find a Christmas surprise waiting just for him.

The Bottom Line: This clever picture book will delight both the young and the young at heart. Vischer's fantastic illustrations are colorful and playful. A Very Fuddles Christmas is the purr-fect holiday treat for kids ages 3 - 7. The large print and easy words also make this a great pick for story time. 

Details: A Very Fuddles Christmas written & illustrated by Frans Vischer. Hardcover picture book published by Aladdin in 2013. 32 p. ISBN: 978-1-4169-9156-4

'Christmas in July' Book Reviews for 2014

Although I enjoy reading books and writing book reviews all throughout the year, I especially enjoy the opportunity to review holiday books during the month of July. This year I have chosen several holiday themed picture books. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my frosty and sweet selections including reviews about Christmas spiders, a clever cat, a tiny Santa, and more. Enjoy!

P.S. I found this free clip art at