Sunday, July 31, 2016

Book Review: 'The Smallest Gift of Christmas' by Peter H. Reynolds

✰✰✰✰✰ On Christmas morning, Roland wishes for a big gift. What he finds is the littlest gift ever. Is this all? It just can't be, so he wishes again and again. The gifts become bigger and bigger. Still Roland wants something even bigger. As he searches the universe for something bigger, he realizes that maybe he already has what he really wants. Sometimes the biggest gifts really do come in the smallest packages.

The Bottom Line: This holiday tale reminds us that happiness can be found in your heart rather than in material things. Sometimes even though we don't get what we wish for, we find something better. Highly recommended for story time reading for kids in grades Pre-K – 1. The author's digitally created illustrations are simple, yet colorful and comical.

Details: The Smallest Gift of Christmas written & illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Hardcover picture book published by Candlewick Press in 2013. 40 p. ISBN: 978-0-7636-6103-8

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Book Review: 'Night of the White Stag' by M. C. Helldorfer

✰✰✰✰½ After the King's war ended, Finder's father never returned. With his family starving for food, young Finder sets off for the castle on Christmas Eve in search of some. When he loses his way, he stumbles upon an old blind man who is hunting for the mythical great white stag. Finder has his doubts, but he helps the old man in his quest. With a little trust, Finder discovers that miracles can happen.

The Bottom Line: This story was inspired by medieval literature and folklore. It takes the reader along on a wintry dream vision. Lavishly illustrated in detailed colored pencil, this tale of bravery will pull you in as good prevails. For children in grades 3 – 4.

Details: Night of the White Stag written by M. C. Helldorfer & illustrated by Yvonne Gilbert. Hardcover picture book published by Random House in 1999. 32 p. ISBN: 0-385-32261-5

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Book Review: 'The Nutcracker Doll' by Mary Newell De Palma

✰✰✰½ After seeing The Nutcracker for the very first time, little Kepley decides to try out next year. She pays extra attention in class. She practices and smiles. Before too long, it's Nutcracker audition day. Despite being nervous, Kepley does her best and is rewarded with a small role. As the big night approaches, Kepley is fitted for a beautiful dress. She'll never forget the thrill of the bright lights. Being on stage is a dream come true for this little ballerina.

The Bottom Line: This special holiday story will appeal to any child who has ever dreamed of dancing on stage. Mary Newell De Palma's soft watercolors with pen and ink are pleasing to the eye and capture the excitement of the season. Check this one out for your little dancer in grades K – 2.

Details: The Nutcracker Doll written & illustrated by Mary Newell De Palma. Hardcover picture book published by Arthur A. Levine Books in 2007. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-439-80242-0

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Book Review: 'Drummer Boy' by Loren Long

✰✰✰✰✰ One wintry day a surprise gift is left on a doorstep. A little boy opens the gift to find a toy drummer boy. The little boy loves this gift, and when all is quiet the drummer boy plays his drum. All is well until one day the drummer boy is accidentally swept into the trash. Alone, the drummer boy begins a long, cold, and scary journey across the city. At each step along the way, the drummer boy plays his drum. After being nearly buried in snow, the drummer boy almost loses hope. Will he ever see the little boy again? Check this book out and read it with your child to find out.

The Bottom Line: By sharing this heartwarming tale, you'll rediscover the true spirit of Christmas. This beautifully and richly illustrated picture book will take you on a holiday journey. Highly recommended for kids in grades 1 – 3.

Details: Drummer Boy written & illustrated by Loren Long. Hardcover picture book published by Philomel Books in 2008. 40 p. ISBN: 978-0-399-25174-0

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Book Review: 'Baby Christmas' by Michael Lawrence

✰✰✰ Just when Father Christmas sets off to deliver presents to good little boys and girls, Baby Christmas goes missing. Both Father and Mother Christmas search high and low for the little boy, but he is nowhere to be found. While his parents are busy searching, Baby Christmas and Rudolph Junior set off with a baby sleigh full of toys. The little boy quickly finds his destiny and has a Christmas adventure of his own.

The Bottom Line: Magical watercolors in soft hues bring this holiday story to life. Children will delight in this tale about a little boy following in his fathers footsteps. Recommended for bedtime reading on Christmas Eve for children ages 3 - 7.

Details: Baby Christmas written by Michael Lawrence & illustrated by Arthur Robins. Hardcover picture book published by Barron's in 2006. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-7641-5998-5 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Book Review: 'Humphrey's Christmas' by Sally Hunter.

✰✰✰✰ Humphrey and his sister, Lottie, are looking forward to Christmas. The little elephants enjoy the soft snow, making holiday decorations, and trimming the tree. But best of all is the anticipation of Santa's visit and an extra cuddle from Mommy as she reads a Christmas Eve story.

The Bottom Line: This tender story illustrated in soft hues of watercolors will appeal to preschoolers. This picture book is perfect for bedtime reading on Christmas Eve.

Details: Humphrey's Christmas by Sally Hunter. Hardcover picture book published by Henry Holt and Company in 2001. 24 p. ISBN: 0-8050-7176-8 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Book Review: 'The Little Fir Tree' by Margaret Wise Brown

✰✰✰✰✰ In an empty field not far away from the forest, a lone little fir tree grows. It often dreams of being a part of something, and one day its dream comes true. A man digs it up and takes it home to be a living Christmas tree for his bedridden little boy. The little fir tree quickly becomes the center of a very special celebration.

In the springtime, the little tree is returned to the field and allowed to grow until it is collected once again. But then one year the tree is left alone in the frozen field. Feeling forgotten and lonely, the tree is in for a surprise when it received a special Christmas visitor.

The Bottom Line: Margaret Wise Brown is well-known as the author of the classic book, Goodnight Moon. Here, she weaves a gentle tale of a treasured Christmas story. Together with Jim LaMarche's beautiful illustrations in warm hues, a new generation of children will learn about the true spirit of Christmas. This is a classic holiday tale that is sure to be read every year. Enthusiastically recommended for everyone.

Details: The Little Fir Tree written by Margaret Wise Brown & illustrated by Jim LaMarche. Hardcover picture book published by HarperCollins in 2005. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-06-028189-2 

'Christmas in July' Book Reviews for 2016

It is always during the sunny month of July that I take a pause to review some holiday themed books. Whether you are sitting at the beach or reading bedtime stories in the comfort of air conditioning, enjoy these stories about a special Christmas tree, Santa's mini me, a winter ballet, and several more. Enjoy!

P.S. The free holiday clip art comes from