Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Book Parade -- 2017

Minerva Louise on Christmas Eve. Janet Morgan Stoeke. 2007. 24 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Minerva Louise loved the way the snow sparkled on the house with the red curtains.

Premise/plot: Minerva Louise returns to the house with red curtains. She's curious about the sparkly tree topped with a hen and the goats on the roof. Why is the farmer wearing a red hat? So many questions this hen has. She's back and as silly as ever.

My thoughts: It's Christmas and Minerva Louise is confused about all the changes inside and out! I really am fond of this chicken! My favorite is her confusion about why the strange man was eating her farmers' breakfast!

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

Here Comes Santa Cat. Deborah Underwood. 2014. 88 pages. [Source: Library]


First sentence: Hey, Santa! Have you seen Cat? Cat! I didn't even recognize you. Why are you dressed like Santa? So you can give yourself a present? Oh, Cat. Santa will bring you a present, won't he? No? Why not? Ah. I see your problem.

Premise/plot: Cat is worried that Santa will not bring him a present because he's been too naughty. It's Christmas Eve, and it's too late--isn't it--for him to start being nice enough to get on Santa's good list. Cat dresses up as Santa and attempts...well, he attempts many, many things! Will Cat's last minute efforts work? Will Cat get a Christmas present?

My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved, LOVED this one. Cat and his signs are just too adorable. I love how expressive the illustrations are. This Cat is just super-super lovable. He would be a handful to live with perhaps. But as a character in a book, he's ideal! I love the conversational text. The narrative text is something I'd call practically perfect in every way.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10


Stowaway in a Sleigh. C. Roger Mader. 2016. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It was the darkest hour of night when Slipper heard strange footsteps in the house.

Premise/plot: Slipper the cat is curious about her new acquaintance, Mr. Furry Boots. She sneaks unnoticed into his bag. After some adventures at the North Pole--she loves Ms. Furry Boots too--she begins to long for home.

My thoughts: Oh, how I loved this one. LOVE. The text is simple and sweet. But it was the illustrations that left me smitten. Cat-lovers need this one. NEED. It is perfectly perfect.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

Harold at the North Pole. Crockett Johnson. 1958. HarperCollins. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was Christmas Eve, and Harold had to have a Christmas tree before Santa Claus arrived.

Premise/plot: It's Christmas Eve and Harold needs a Christmas tree. With his purple crayon in hand, Harold's adventure begins. He's in search of a tree, so he must draw stars and woods and SNOW. Because he was a little TOO enthusiastic about the snow, Harold finds himself at the North Pole, and, Santa is snowed in. Can Harold draw Santa out of trouble?

My thoughts: This one is so cute and charming. I loved the text. I loved the illustrations. I loved the scene where Harold draws the reindeer and harnesses them up to Santa's sleigh. Have you read this one? What did you think?

Text: 4.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10
All I Want For Christmas Is You. Mariah Carey. Illustrated by Colleen Madden. 2015. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I don't want a lot for Christmas. There is just one thing I need.

Premise/plot: Using the lyrics of Mariah Carey's Christmas song, "All I Want For Christmas is You," a holiday-themed love story is told to readers. The love story is between a little girl and a puppy. For it is a PUPPY that she's dreaming of this holiday season.

My thoughts: The illustrations are by Colleen Madden. In my opinion, the illustrations do most of the work of telling the story. Chances are--adults and children alike--are already familiar, very familiar, with the lyrics of the song. The interest comes from the story told by the illustrations. How do the illustrations convey emotion and story? And how well do they do that?

I enjoyed the illustrations. I did. I liked following the little girl throughout the holiday season. Readers see her in all her festive activities: shopping, crafting, baking, playing in the snow, skating, singing, visiting friends and family, etc. One of my favorite spreads shows that while all the other children are making snowmen, she's making a dog out of snow. He has pine cone ears. And he's just adorable.

Text: 4.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10
Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! Doreen Cronin. Illustrated by Betsy Lewin. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.

First sentence: Snow is falling. Lights twinkle. A few creatures are stirring. It is Christmas Eve. There is a jingle in the air. Farmer Brown stops to listen. Santa is on his way.

Premise/plot: Farmer Brown is settling in to enjoy a nice Christmas. He's blissfully unaware of what some of the "creatures" on his farm are plotting or planning. Readers should pay careful attention to all the illustrations. They can track Santa's journey as well. But my guess is that the repetitive refrain: Ho, Ho, Uh-oh, might just be their favorite part.

My thoughts: I think it must be really difficult to write a really, actually, GOOD Christmas-themed picture book. You can read a dozen or so Christmas books, and, only find one or two that stand out as being entertaining, or, FUNNY. (Funny as opposed to being sentimental, or, a book that is supposed-to-make-you-cry.) You also encounter plenty of books with awkward, forced rhymes. Or books where you're left asking, "And the point of this was....?!"

But Doreen Cronin's Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! was good, really, really good. I liked the beginning, the middle, and the end. It was predictable in all the right ways. I love how the text and illustrations work together to build a suspenseful story. The readers definitely are more aware than poor Farmer Brown!!!

Text: 4.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

How Many Sleeps 'Til Christmas? Mark Sperring. Illustrated by Sebastien Braun. 2014. Tiger Tales. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: One winter morning, before the sun had even woken, Little Pip climbed out of bed, padded across the floor, and "PSSST!" gave Daddy Grizzle a gentle nudge....

Premise/plot: Little Pip is a young cub who is so super-excited about it being almost-Christmas that he wakes his dad (Daddy Grizzle) up every morning convinced that Christmas is HERE at last. Every day, Daddy Grizzle tells him how many "whole sleeps" until Christmas. They are able to fill their days with fun and exciting Christmas-y activities.

My thoughts: I found this one ADORABLE. In part, perhaps, because of the illustrations by Sebastien Braun, but also because of the super-fun-and-adorable twist at the end of the book!!! True, I'm not sure that bears actually celebrate Christmas. But Little Pip and Daddy Grizzle are just adorable together. Love the enthusiasm and joy this one conveys throughout.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad. (Little Critter) Mercer Mayer. 1982. 24 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: I wanted to make Christmas very special, just for you, so I made a Christmas wreath. I wanted to decorate some Christmas cookies just for you, but I couldn't stop tasting them. I wanted to find a Christmas present just for you, but there were too many toys to look at.

Premise/plot: Little Critter tries really hard to make Christmas really, truly special for his Mom and Dad. But, as you'd expect, things don't always go according to plan. Is it the thought that counts?!

My thoughts: I love and adore Little Critter. I loved this one cover to cover. My favorite: "I wanted to wrap the baby's present just for you, but the tape was too sticky." It is a fact, by the way, that I was banned from using tape!

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10
Little Babymouse and the Christmas Cupcakes. Jennifer L. Holm. Illustrated by Matthew Holm. 2016. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It was Christmas Eve. And Babymouse was putting out cookies for Santa. Babymouse! Mmf. I couldn't wait! They looked so tasty! (Sigh.) I certainly hope Santa likes Christmas crumbs.

Premise/plot: This picture book takes readers BACK to a time to when Babymouse (the star of a very popular graphic novel series) was LITTLE. After Babymouse "accidentally" eats Santa's cookies, she decides to do something different...and instead of baking more cookies...she decides to bake him cupcakes. But will all go according to plan?

My thoughts: I love Babymouse. I do. I think this is a fun introduction to Babymouse for younger readers. As you might have guessed, Babymouse's imagination was ACTIVE even way back when.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

Sophie's Surprise. Lee Richardson. Illustrated by Shirley Holt. 1983. 28 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Mr. Kelly found Sophie in the alley behind his toy store. She was hungry and needed a home. He was lonely and needed a mouser.

Premise/plot: Sophie has found a home in a lovely toy store. She's even found a perfect place to nap--on Brown Bear. Mr. Kelly is in for a big, big surprise come Christmas Eve! And it all happens in his display window case!

My thoughts: I definitely enjoyed this one! It's a gem of a book. The story is sweet. If you love cats, you'll probably love it. If you have a soft spot for teddy bears, there's also a good chance you'll love it. For me, I found it irresistible. The illustrations are WONDERFUL. They are so detailed.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comments:

Joy Weese Moll 11:09 AM  

What a delightful Christmas Parade!

Merry Christmas, Becky!

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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)
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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.

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