Dec 192011
 

The Short Shelf
Book Services by Barb Weber

Note from Jen: All links to Amazon on this page are my (not Barb’s) Affiliate links. If you click on one and then make any purchase, I, and subsequently Stitching for Literacy, will get a small commission used for needlework outreach. Your purchase price is not affected. I hope you see this as a good opportunity to fulfill your needs and help S4L simultaneously.

Of course, there are many Christmas books out there, just as there are more than enough children’s books in general. Here are a few great choices that may be less familiar.

Again of course, the number one must-read every Christmas is How the Grinch Stole Christmas,by Dr. Seuss. (‘Nough said, right?)

But do you know Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree, by Robert Barry? Mr. Willowby’s beloved Christmas tree is too tall for the perfect spot in the parlor corner! But not to worry, the excess is trimmed and passed on repeatedly, to the joy and benefit of successive Christmas merrymakers, from the upstairs maid to the household mice. “Oh, wasn’t it grand to have a tree exactly like Mr. Willowby?” This rhyming tale is brimming with holiday cheer.

For an imaginatively different take on a Santa story, try Auntie Claus, by Elise Primavera. Sophie’s Auntie Claus if super! So elegant. So posh. So mysterious. This year niece Sophie is determined to discover her aunt’s seasonal secret, and takes off on an unexpected adventure that leads her to the true meaning of Christmas. Celebrate the selfless spirit of the season with this fun read aloud. It’s fabulous, darling!

A book that strikes a slightly different note, but one that so perfectly captures the spirit of Christmas is The Best Christmas Ever, by Chih-Yuan Chen. It’s a hard year for the bear family. Papa lost his job and things are tight, so it looks like “Santa” may not make it to their house this year. But Little Bear knows what makes a great Christmas, and he sets out to make sure his family has the best Christmas ever. (Hint: Be sure to follow the lovely, spare illustrations closely, from endpaper to endpaper.)

And a final “of course”: what’s Christmas without a family reading of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens? If you can’t swing reading it aloud yourself, Patrick Stewart’s reading is the next best thing.

Jen butting in to further plug both the original text of A Christmas Carol and Patrick Stewart’s reading. These have long been two of my favorite holiday traditions. Charles Dickens wrote several other Christmas tales, too, that I highly recommend. At first, I didn’t think they were very Christmasy, but after repeated readings and some contemplation, I think I understand what Dickens was aiming for, and the sentiments are, indeed, appropriate for the season. Happy holiday reading!

Barb Weber has been a fan of children’s books all her life (she still has her copy of her favorite Golden Book, The Little Yellow Taxi, torn page and all, and it still chokes her up), and has been a children’s bookseller for over ten years. She likes nothing better than to share her enthusiasm and bring terrific books to people’s attention.

Barb’s Short Shelf: Autumn Picks

 Posted by on November 21, 2011  Barb's Short Shelf
Nov 212011
 

The Short Shelf

Book Services by Barb Weber

Note from Jen: All links to Amazon on this page are my (not Barb’s) Affiliate links. If you click on one and then make any purchase, I, and subsequently Stitching for Literacy, will get a small commission used for needlework outreach. Your purchase price is not affected. I hope you see this as a good opportunity to fulfill your needs and help S4L simultaneously.

Thank you, autumn!

Here are some great books to celebrate and savor the fall season.

While Oliver Finds His Way, by Phyllis Root, isn’t about fall, a beautiful, bright, crisp New England autumn day is the perfect setting—and set-up—for this sweet, empowering little story of resourcefulness and conquering one’s fears for the little ones. While mama and papa bear are busy with chores, Oliver has fun chasing a big yellow leaf. But in his zeal and enjoyment, he strays too far, out of sight of mama and papa. What to do?! First he cries, but then he realizes that that’s not getting him anywhere. So, after thinking hard, he comes up with an idea, and is soon home amid “tumble-down hugs.” Christopher Denise’s illustrations infuse the story with wonderful autumn atmosphere and give life to Oliver’s winning personality. (Works well in board format, too.)

Two good titles involving autumn leaves are Leaves, by David Ezra Stein, and Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, by Julia Rawlinson (illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke). In Stein’s Leaves, with his always-charming illustrations, a bear in his first year wonders at the falling leaves on his little island. Are they alright? He tries to save them, but his winter sleepiness comes upon him, and he looks for a place to hole up for his long winter nap, puts those fallen leaves to good use as his bed, and sleeps the winter away. When he wakes up to a welcoming spring, he’s overjoyed to welcome a new crop of fresh green leaves. (Great as a board book, too.)

Rawlinson’s Fletcher is a caring little fox, and a good friend. And a bit of a worrier. It’s Fletcher’s first year, and when the autumn wind begins to steal away his favorite tree’s leaves, he doesn’t understand, and worries for his friend, and does all he can to prevent the inevitable. But by the end, Fletcher begins to see that it’s time for the tree to embrace its winter mantle. Beeke’s lovely, evocative watercolor illustrations capture the blustery season, and Fletcher’s sweetness and earnest concern. (See also the other two installments in the Fletcher series, Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms, and Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas,for more of the kind, thoughtful little fox’s adventures.)


And one for the autumn holiday, Thank You, Thanksgiving, by David Milgrim. This is my absolute favorite Thanksgiving book. Very simple, but perfectly captures the spirit of Thanksgiving, and, after all, isn’t the idea of being thankful pretty simple? Our little heroine is sent out on Thanksgiving Day for whipping cream for the holiday pie. On the way, this little girl is thankful for all the little things that make life a joy, from warm boots on a snowy day, to the pretty clouds that adorn the autumn sky, and the whipped cream on the pumpkin pie. Read it at Thanksgiving, and practice it the rest of the year.

Barb Weber has been a fan of children’s books all her life (she still has her copy of her favorite Golden Book, The Little Yellow Taxi, torn page and all, and it still chokes her up), and has been a children’s bookseller for over ten years. She likes nothing better than to share her enthusiasm and bring terrific books to people’s attention.

Oct 242011
 

The Short Shelf
Book Services by Barb Weber

Note from Jen: All links to Amazon on this page are my (not Barb’s) Affiliate links. If you click on one and then make any purchase, I, and subsequently Stitching for Literacy, will get a small commission used for needlework outreach. Your purchase price is not affected. I hope you see this as a good opportunity to fulfill your needs and help S4L simultaneously.

For Halloween you can go fun or spooky, or a little of both. Here are some favorite books for every age.

Look out!…for

The Runaway Pumpkin

by Kevin Lewis, illustrated by S.D. Schindler.

In their zeal for the perfect Halloween pumpkin, the Baxter boys unleash a little mayhem down on the farm. But it’s nothing the affable, unflappable–and resourceful–Baxter clan can’t handle. It all ends with a tableful of tasty treats, and the perfect jack-o-lantern. Lewis’ rhyme is as bouncy as that runaway pumpkin, and perfectly captures the spirit of Halloween family fun, along with S.D. Schindler’s expressively humorous illustrations.


Room on the Broom

by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

Is there room on the broom for all of witch’s helpful new friends? Yes! And good thing, too, when their witch runs into a spot of dragon trouble. Not specific to Halloween (read it any time of year!), but Room on the Broom has witches and dragons and bog monsters and a dark and stormy night. Another terrific rhyming read aloud from the dynamic author/illustrator duo of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

The Widow’s Broom

by Chris Van Allsburg.

Another enigmatic, atmospheric tale from the man who brought you The Polar Express. A tired witch’s broom, that’s no longer reliable for flying, is replaced, but it still has plenty of magic left in it, as the widow Shaw discovers after the abandoned (and well-meaning) broom starts helping around the house! But the suspicious neighbors are fearful and plot to get rid of this “evil, wicked” thing in their midst. Van Allsburg’s tale of ignorance, suspicion and fear is neatly wrapped up in this supernatural story.

Night of the Gargoyles,

by Eve Bunting, illustrated by David Wiesner.

Ever wonder about gargoyles, up there on their lofty perches, grinning, scowling, uncanny? Eve Bunting does, and imagines a wonderful, slightly unsettling secret life of those odd grotesques of the human imagination–to terrific effect. Wiesner’s atmospheric illustrations “flesh” out Bunting’s lyrical story, and give her words meat and bones, or should I say, solid stone.

Mouse’s First Halloween,

by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Buket Erdogan.

A Halloween book for the littlest revelers. A tiny bit suspenseful (but not too much). A teensy bit scary (but not too scary). Little Mouse goes exploring one fall evening, and comes across a series of “frightening” firsts, the rustle of fall leaves, the flickering of a grinning jack-o-lantern, that all turn out to be not just harmless, but good fun. And at the end of the eventful evening, Little Mouse goes home to his loving parents with his own piece of Halloween candy to share.


Pull out the Poe for a scary, lights-out read aloud for the older kids. There are a couple of illustrated editions that kids (and adults) love, with humorously creepy pictures by Gris Grimly (Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Madness is one), but Poe is also great for just listening while the tension builds. The Pit and the Pendulum. The Tell-Tale Heart. What’s your favorite?

Barb Weber has been a fan of children’s books all her life (she still has her copy of her favorite Golden Book, The Little Yellow Taxi, torn page and all, and it still chokes her up), and has been a children’s bookseller for over ten years. She likes nothing better than to share her enthusiasm and bring terrific books to people’s attention.