Saturday, November 24, 2012

2012 Christmas Picture Books

Daddy Christmas & Hanukkah Mama. Selina Alko. 2012. Random House. 32 pages.

I am a mix of two traditions. From Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama. Our tree is crowned with one shiny star. And we light eight candles for Hanukkah. I help Mama hang stockings by the fireplace. Daddy makes latkes to leave on the mantel with milk. Grandma's recipe is Santa's favorite treat. We decorate our home for the holidays. Mama scatters golden gelt under the tree. Daddy hooks candy canes on menorah branches. 

Sadie, our heroine, just loves having two holidays to celebrate, and enjoys the rich traditions from both her mom's culture and her dad's culture. This book celebrates the family depicting a loving, sharing, caring family who embraces the best of both religions/holidays. 

Cowboy Christmas. Rob Sanders. Illustrated by John Manders. 2012. Random House. 32 pages.

"Three days till Christmas," said Dwight. "And we're stuck with cows," whined Darryl. "Santy Claus will never find us out here on the range," sniveled Dub. Cookie stirred the beans. "No presents," said Dwight. "No stockings," added Darryl. "No Santy," groaned Dub. "Time for supper, cowhands," Cookie called. The cowboys hunkered down 'round the campfire. Cookie doled out plates. "When I was knee-high to a grasshopper, my daddy chopped down an evergreen for our Christmas tree," said Dwight. "We decorated that tree with popcorn, and icicles as shiny as silver spurs." "You could decorate a tree," mumbled Cookie, spooning up beans and corn bread. "That's a fact!" shouted Dwight. "We'll help," said Darryl. "Santy loves Christmas trees!" whooped Dub.

I had extremely low expectations for Cowboy Christmas. I didn't think I would like it at all. But. It completely surprised me. I really liked it! I thought it was funny and very unique! As the three complaining cowboys Dub, Dwight, and Darryl whine about missing Christmas and long for Christmases of long ago--trees, cookies, and sleighs and reindeer costumes (of all things?!), Cookie manages to convince the cowboys to try to get into the Christmas spirit right where they are. I just LOVE the "Christmas cactus" with hay-cicles that is strung with cans of corn. And the cookies are a complete disaster. It's a funny book with playful, descriptive language. A good story.

Christmas at the Toy Museum. David Lucas. 2012. Candlewick. 32 pages.

It was Christmas Eve, and all the visitors to the Toy Museum were gone. The lights were out, the doors were locked, and all the toys hurried to the big Christmas tree. But there weren't any presents! None at all. Nothing for Christmas for any of them. But Bunting the old toy cat had an idea. He had to make a speech. "Friends! Toys! Dolls! Puppets!" he said. "It's Christmas Eve! Let us not be downhearted! Why don't we all give one another ourselves?" 

 I liked Christmas at the Toy Museum. It is a clever idea, in a way, having toys wrap each other up on Christmas Eve so they can unwrap each other on Christmas Day and thus give themselves to each other as presents. This one also features a magical tree-topper angel that oversees the festivities and helps things go smoothly for Bunting the cat hasn't thought of everything.

The Christmas Quiet Book. Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Renata Liwska. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages.

Christmas is a quiet time: mysterious bundles quiet, searching for presents quiet, getting caught quiet, hoping for a snow day quiet, bundled up quiet, snow angel quiet, knocking with mittens quiet...

I enjoyed The Christmas Quiet Book. Then again, I would have also enjoyed a book titled The Christmas Loud Book. If you're a fan of Deborah Underwood's The Quiet Book or The Loud Book, there's a good chance you'll appreciate the newest book in the series. Some quiet images worked better for me than others, for example, "reading  by the fire quiet" and "listening for sleigh bells quet." But overall I did enjoy this one.

LEGO City: Save This Christmas. Rebecca McCarthy. 2012. Scholastic. 24 pages.

It was a starry night in LEGO city. A policeman watched over the town Christmas tree and the presents below it. Meanwhile three crooks planned to steal all the presents in the morning. But that night, it snowed. It snowed so much that the crooks couldn't leave their hideout in the morning. "One of you guys better help shovel us out!" Chester shouted. "Not me," said Lester. "I'm working on Plan B!" "Not me," said Jester. "I'm sipping hot cocoa!" 

Will Chester, Lester, and Jester even come close to successfully stealing the city's Christmas presents? It doesn't seem likely. Not with their luck and timing! For little ones who love LEGO, especially LEGO City sets, may enjoy this holiday adventure.

Also available: LEGO City: Sticker Storybook, Merry Christmas, LEGO City! from Scholastic. The story helps little ones know where to place the stickers.

My Christmas Treasury. Scholastic. 2012. 96 pages.

My Christmas Treasury contains three holiday stories: The Biggest Christmas Tree Ever by Steven Kroll, illustrated by Jeni Bassett; There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell! by Lucille Colandro, illustrated by Jared Lee; Christmas Morning by Cheryl Ryan, illustrated by Jenny Mattheson.

From The Biggest Christmas Tree Ever,
Once there were two mice who fell in love with the same Christmas tree, but you had to see it to believe it.

Clayton and Desmond are two young mice with the same ambitious goal: to find the BIGGEST Christmas tree Mouseville has ever seen. Thanksgiving day and the after-effects of Thanksgiving Day discourage them both for a day or two and frustrate their big plans, but, these two eventually stumble upon the biggest tree ever...

From There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Bell,
There was an old lady who swallowed a bell. How it jingled and jangled and tickled, as well! I don't know why she swallowed a bell. I wish she'd tell. There was an old lady who swallowed some bows. Soft as the snow, were those velvety bows. She swallowed the bows to tie up the bell that jingled and jangled and tickled, as well! 

If you enjoy "There Was An Old Lady" stories (there are so many!) then this holiday book may be just what you're looking for.

From Christmas Morning,
This is the house where the children slept.
This is the snow that fell on the house where the children slept.
This is the sleigh that flew through the snow that fell on the house where the children slept.
These are the reindeer who pulled the sleigh that flew through the snow that fell on the house where the children slept.

If you enjoy "This is the House" stories (like This is the House that Jack Built), then this book is quite a treat! It may just be my favorite from this Christmas treasury.

Merry Christmas Maisy: a Maisy Lift-the-Flap Book. Lucy Cousins. 2012. Candlewick. 22 pages.

Christmas is coming. The mailman brings Maisy lots of cards. Maisy goes shopping and buys presents for her friends. Maisy wraps the presents.

Merry Christmas Maisy is your typical Maisy book, your typical lift-the-flap Maisy book. (Not every Maisy book features flaps.) I wasn't wowed by this one. But if your little one loves Maisy, I could see the appeal.

Peppa Pig and the Lost Christmas List. 2012. Candlewick Press. 32 pages.

It's almost Christmas, and Peppa Pig and her little brother, George, are mailing their letters to Santa. Peppa's friends are there too!

If you (or your little one) loves the TV show, Peppa Pig, then this Christmas adventure may prove quite satisfying. It is based on the TV show, no author is listed for this book. In this playful book, Peppa "helps" Santa when he loses his Christmas list. He just can't remember who the presents in his bag belong to. Since Peppa had listened carefully to what each of her friends had asked Santa for, she is able to "save" Christmas for all her friends. I think if you already like Peppa, then you'll appreciate this one. If this is your first introduction to Peppa, then I'm not sure it will be enough to persuade.

My Santa Claus. Lily Karr. Illustrated by Jay Johnson. 2012. Scholastic. 12 pages.

Santa Claus comes once a year,
to bring everyone Christmas cheer.
In his sack he has many surprises,
presents and gifts in all shapes and sizes.

A simple board book for little ones. It rhymes. It stars Santa. 
Lalaloopsy: Christmas Magic. Lauren Cecil. 2012. Scholastic. 24 pages.

It was the holiday season in Lalaloopsy Land. Holly Sleighbells was so excited  she could hardly sit still. "I can't wait for Christmas this year!" said Holly. Then she made a list of everything she had to do before Christmas: make cookies, write cards, decorate tree, wrap presents, hang stocking, go caroling. 

I had low expectations for this one. But. It wasn't as horrible as I thought it would be. Holly is a bit impatient, a bit impulsive, and very independent. Holly is someone who wants to do EVERYTHING on her own. The result is one mess after another after another. Holly has some great friends who understand that friends help each other and love each other through all the messes and mistakes. One example of her mistakes is when she runs out of tape as she's wrapping Christmas presents, she's too impatient to go get more tape, she decides to use GLUE instead. The results are disastrous! Because there was an actual story, I enjoyed this one more than I thought I would. It does include stickers.

Also available this Christmas season is Where's Waldo? Santa Spectacular which features puzzles, searches and over 300 stickers.

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
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  • dystopias
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  • fantasy
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I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
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  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

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