Young Reader in the Making

Young Reader in the Making

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Book 270: Christmas is Together-Time

Christmas is Together-Time, by Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts Worldwide, 2013.

What's not to love?  A beautifully-Christmas red and green cover.  Classic illustrations by Schulz.  And a list of things about Christmas -- some sweet, some funny, some poignant.  It's like the best part of the Peanuts Christmas special all wrapped up in a lovely, portable little book.

Even better, I bought my edition at Kohl's during the Kohl's Care promotion, so not only did I get my husband a little Christmas book that he loves, the proceeds went to a very good cause.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Book 269: Children's Christmas Songbook

Children's Christmas Songbook, Chester Music, 2003.

I've had this book for many years. More years, in fact, than I've had children or been married. I found it on Daedalus Books, I didn't have any Christmas song books, and I thought this would work. And it does. 

I've used this book for my own benefit, playing the songs on the flute, the violin and the Irish tin whistle. I've used this book to teach recorder music to kids at the library. And this year, I've used the book to sing the songs and read the stories to my son. 

I can't remember what I paid for this book -- I'm sure it was discounted -- but whatever I did pay, it was well worth it. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Book 268: Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer, written by Barbara Shook Hazen, illustrated by Richard Scarry, Little Golden Book, 1958

In the Rankin/Bass movie version of Rudolph, I love Rudolph, but can't stand Santa.  When I was a kid, I used to feel guilty about not liking Santa, I mean, he was Santa!  But now that I'm an adult, I can see how rude and mean Santa was in the movie -- right up until the end when he needed something from Rudolph.

The book has a kinder Santa, although possibly even meaner reindeer, so I'm not sure that is much of an improvement.  Rudolph himself, however, is still sweet and endearing, the story is a good interpretation of the classic Christmas song.

The illustrations were done by Richard Scarry -- pre-1970s Richard Scarry, which is maybe not as stylized or recognizable as post-1970s Scarry, but is softer, sweeter and more endearing than post-1970s Scarry.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Book 267: Duck and Goose, It's Time for Christmas!

Duck and Goose, It's Time for Christmas!, by Tad Hills, Schwarz & Wade Book, 2010.  Baby, Toddler, Preschooler.

I have been in love with Duck and Goose ever since they stormed in to the picture book scene some years ago.  At the time, I was a children's librarian and doing story times for toddlers and preschoolers, so that probably explains my infatuation.

Three years ago, 2010, my family moved to SC from FL, and we had our first (and only) white day-after-Christmas.  My son, who was two at the time, also got this book for Christmas that year.  We didn't have enough snow to make a snowball, much less a snow angel or a snow fort, but still, we had snow, just like the book.

Three years later, my son is five, and there is no snow in our forecast for the next ten days, but my son still likes to read about the Christmas adventures of Duck and Goose.  And Duck and Goose are just as adorable as the first time I saw them.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Book 266: Little Golden Book Frosty the Snowman

Little Golden Book Frosty the Snowman, retold by Annie North Bedford, Illustrated by Jean Chandler, Little Golden Books, 1992.

I grew up with a classic version of Frosty the Snowman -- i.e, not based on the movie of the same name.  The text in this edition, therefore, was very familiar and I recognized right away.  The illustrations, however, while adequate, were nowhere near as good as the illustrations in the book that I loved to death as a child.

I have discovered that this 1992 LGB edition is not very common.  Makes me want to hang onto it for awhile.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book 265: E.T.A. Hoffman Nutcracker

E.T.A. Hoffman Nutcracker, translated by Ralph Manheim, illustrated by Maurice Sendak, Crown Publishers, Inc., 1984.

To me, this is the best version of the Nutcracker story, because it was based on the sets that Sendak did for the Nutcracker ballet (for the Pacific Northwest Ballet Company, in 1984, I think).

The story is deftly told, and can keep the attention of even very young listeners, but, of course, the artwork is the star of this book (just as it was in the ballet).

Not everyone knows that Hoffman revered Mozart.  Sendak did.  Within the ballet, there is a vignette that features Mozart's music, and within the book, there is a bust of Mozart prominently on a bookshelf.  I also love the book because the story of the hard nut is told (how the nephew first turned into a nutcracker).  And because, about two-thirds of the way through it, there are nine full pages of illustration without text.  Nine full pages of Sendak illustrations!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Book 264: Season of Hope

Season of Hope, Virginia Carmichael, Love Inspired 2013.

Whenever I write about romantic fiction, I feel compelled to point out that I don't usually like or read romantic fiction.  I also feel like I need to review it (and rate it) from the point of view of the genre, and not as compared to something else.

I really like how Season of Hope revived some of the characters from the first book, Season of Joy, and told more of their stories as well as telling the stories of the new cast of characters.  Picking up threads of other stories is not easy -- I had intended to do that with my first book, but have yet to follow through.

I did like the new characters and their stories, but somehow they did not feel quite as fleshed out or sympathetic as the returning cast.   Even so, this book made a delightful Christmas read (even if it was romantic fiction).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Book 263: The Christmas Pumpkin

The Christmas Pumpkin, by Debbie Reece, illustrated by Ron Head, BeeBop Books, 2009.

There is something wonderful about seeing beauty and utility where everyone else sees nothing.  There is something wonderful about doing something completely different and unexpected, and having the action become well-received and supported.

Most people wouldn't have any use for a green pumpkin at any time of the year, but especially not in December when all the decorative orange pumpkins have begun to rot.  A little boy, however, thought that a green pumpkin would make the perfect Christmas pumpkin, and, because of his belief and his work, he was right.

The illustrations are unstated in a way that allows the text to shine without being overshadowed.  They are sweet and very well-done.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book 262: A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas, by Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts Worldwide, 2008.

One of the best things about television at Christmas time is the Charlie Brown Christmas special.  And one of the best things about Kohl's is there Kohl's Cares program.  So when Kohl's was featuring The Peanuts this Christmas season, I went a little crazy.  (But who doesn't want a Snoopy?)

The book is based on the Christmas special, so it is not quite as much fun as a panel comic strip or the television special itself, but it does capture the story and much of the spirit of the special very well.  The illustrations actually have a bit more modeling and shading than the original Charlie Brown Christmas, but that just makes them feel a bit more modern and takes away none of the charm.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Book 261: The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas, illustrated by Sheilah Beckett, Little Golden Book 1992.

I've had this Little Golden Book for way longer than I've had a child to read it to.  I encountered it at least ten years ago when I was looking for Christmas books for my house.  I loved the illustrations, so I bought it.

Now I do have a child to read/sing it to.  And I still love the illustrations.  And so does my five-year-old son.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Book 260: A Bad Kitty Christmas

A Bad Kitty Christmas, by Nick Bruel, Roaring Brook Press 2011.

I just love the Nick Bruel "Bad Kitty" books.  Not only are they a fun and delightful romp through the alphabet, they also tell a story.  It is not easy to tell stories using the alphabet.  If you don't believe me, pull ten or so ABC books off the shelves of the picture book section of the library.  How many actually tell a story?  How many use the alphabet THREE TIMES to tell a story?  

Although I love the"Bad Kitty" books, this Christmas book is even more special and spectacular.  This story made me tear up a bit.  And laugh.  And smile.  And buy the book. 

And the artwork?  Well, I think this book contains the best illustrations out of any of the "Bad Kitty" books.  They, too, are even more special and spectacular. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Book 259: Ralph Masiello's Christmas Drawing Book

Ralph Masiello's Christmas Drawing Book, by Ralph Masiello, Charlesbridge 2013.   Preschool to Elementary.

This book could not have come out at a better time for our house.  Ever since my son was one, he's been making Christmas cards for our family and friends.  Granted, his early cards consisted of a single crayon line and a random sticker, but he was one and they were perfect.  Now he is five.  He just turned five about three weeks ago, and since his fifth birthday he has been copying other drawings.

Some of these drawings, like the tree, are simple enough for him to create a reasonable facsimile, so he feels a sense of accomplishment.  Some, like the sleigh flying over a city-scape, are so advanced they will give him something to work toward over the next few years.  In other words, this book is perfect for now and for years to come.

*I was given this book in exchange for a honest review.