Posted onJanuary 14, 2019|Comments Off on Shall I Knit You a Hat? A Christmas Yarn
A blizzard is coming, so Mother Rabbit bakes carrot cake and knits her beloved Little Rabbit a hat. He loves it and asks her to make hats for their friends too. She happily agrees, they work together on the hats, and the friends (after seeing how warm they are and how special they feel wearing them) are very appreciative. Mother Rabbit and Little Rabbit go home and have carrot cake, warm and secure in each other’s love and being together (“the best gift of all”). The end.
It sounds so simple, but the pictures are so lovely and the rabbits are so realistically warm and their relationship is so caring; it may be the coziest book I have ever read. And both the boys still love it, which always surprises me a bit and also makes me happy each year. Apparently it is the first book in a series about Little Rabbit and Mother Rabbit, but we haven’t read the other books (which are focused on particular issues, like handling cleaning up or crying or nightmares).
Author: Kate Klise Illustrator: M. Sarah Klise
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It is Christmas morning and at first everyone in Morris’s family is very happy. But while Morris’s three older siblings are all interested in swapping with each other for playtime with their new presents (a beauty kit, hockey outfit, and chemistry set), they don’t want to swap for playtime with Morris’s new bear. Morris is deeply disappointed. But what is that under the tree? And what is a disappearing bag anyway? The answer surprising, and the book is a total pleasure–perfect for any sibling, or anyone who’s ever felt in need of a bit of magic.
Every year, after Thanksgiving, I bring out the Christmas books. Every
year, after New Year’s Day, I put them away again. I still read the
books aloud to the boys in the order they pick, and each year this book
(along with Shall I Knit You a Hat?, which I’ll be posting about soon; Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree; and The Christmas Wombat)
is one of the first chosen. My oldest likes it so much that in 2017
he asked for (and received) a bear just like Morris’s as his Christmas
In this story, which was inspired by the author’s grandmother own journey, a Polish family flees war and hunger around the turn of the last century. They are immigrating to the United States to join the husband/father who went first. Nearly all of their possessions (which are already vanishing few by current standards) must be left behind. Their journey via foot and steerage-class is difficult. They don’t speak English. But they have each other and reach Ellis Island on Christmas Day, where they are met with kindness and decency and ultimately welcomed to their new country. We’ve been reading this book for years; this year it was especially meaningful.
Author: Maxinne Rhea Leighton Illustrator: Dennis Nolan
Posted onJanuary 8, 2019|Comments Off on Santa Claus the World’s Number One Toy Expert
The Santa in this story is a hard-working, hard-playing, jolly but largely solitary fellow who spends the entire year happily using his unmatched expertise in kids, toys, and gifts to match “the exact right kid with the exact right toy 99.9 percent of the time.” As always, Marla Frazee’s pictures are wonderful and reward settling in and really enjoying the details (like the subtle and funny “post-credits scene” on the back cover).
Author: Marla Frazee Illustrator: Marla Frazee
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On Market Street, vendors of items from apples to zippers all wear (or are made of) their wares. I’ve loved this beautiful alphabet book from the first time I saw it as a child. The boys prefer The Racecar Alphabet, but this is the week when I share some of the books that I currently enjoy more than they do, in honor of Mother’s Day.
The last time I wrote about Frog and Toad, this series didn’t interest the boys much. But recently they developed a strong interest in A Year with Frog and Toad, a musical based on the books (and a wonderful show, if you ever get a chance to see it in person), and now really enjoy the books.
Like Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggy series, the two best friends in this series have very different personalities. The Frog and Toad series is less laugh-out-loud funny than Mr. Willems’, but is still humorous and often tender. Some of our favorite stories are “Shivers,” from Days with Frog and Toad; “Spring” and “A Lost Button,” from Frog and Toad are Friends; “Cookies,” from Frog and Toad Together; and “Down the Hill” and “Ice Cream,” from Frog and Toad All Year.
This collection of short stories and poems is one of my very favorite books. I loved it when I was a kid and now I love reading one or two of the stories to the boys each night before bed during the lead up to Christmas. The stories are absolutely charming and the pictures are beautiful and I wish this version (from 1969) wasn’t out of print (the version currently in print cut out a few of my favorite stories–I have no idea why). Don’t let the missing stories stop you from picking up a copy of the new edition, if you don’t have one already. This book is contains so much holiday joy; it really shouldn’t be missed.
Author: Kathryn Jackson
Illustrator: Richard Scarry
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas tree is a touch too big for his space. So the top is lopped off and given to his upstairs maid. But it is a touch too big for her space, so the top is lopped off and discovered by the gardener. But it is a touch too big for his space, so… Well, you get the idea. One big tree brings a lot of happiness to a lot of people (and animals too).
Each double-page spread in this intriguing book highlights one of the twelve sets of gifts listed in the title song. The twist is that each of these (gorgeous!) spreads has all of the previous gifts lurking within it (so, for example, a partridge in a pear tree and two turtledoves are hidden somewhere in the spread highlighting the three French hens). Some of the previous gifts are easy to find, some of them we still haven’t found yet. But it is a true pleasure to try.