Our 2018 Christmas Basket!
(Partnered books are starred below! Thank you to Blue Slip Media and Kid Lit Exchange!)
Well, I finally had to upgrade our Christmas book basket! I loved the little red one (You can see it HERE!), but it just wasn’t able to hold them all. And I’ve added quite a few new ones this year!
We still love all of our old books, but I don’t think I’m wrong in saying there’s something fun and special about receiving new holiday books every year. These are a few of our new-to-us favorites this year!
*Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins
This book is SO CUTE! Santa wakes up with a cold (a man cold, if you will) on Christmas Eve and declares that Christmas must be cancelled. Mrs. Claus comes to rescue and says she will take Santa’s place, and of course comes up with a fantastic plan to deliver all the gifts. She has to overcome a few problems, but she does just as good (Dare I say better??) a job as Santa. The illustrations are so much fun, and the story is really cute. And who doesn’t like a good story where the woman saves the day AND gets credit for it??
How to Catch an Elf
Our elf on the shelf brought this book this year, and my kids love it! It’s about an elf who is trying to escape capture, since everyone tries to catch him instead of Santa! It’s told in verse, and a really fun book to read, especially if your kids love their elf.
The Christmas Giant
This is still my 9-year-old’s favorite book, and I love it too. It’s about a giant named Humphrey and an elf named Leetree who live in Christmastown. They are tasked with growing that year’s Christmas tree, but must come up with a creative solution when their perfect tree disappears. It is BEAUTIFULLY illustrated, and it’s a sweet Christmas story. I highly recommend this one if you don’t have it already.
*Tough Cookie: A Christmas Story
If your kids like funny books, this is THE Christmas book for them! It’s a take on the Gingerbread Man story, except this cookie is so tough that the fox has no interest in eating it! They spend the book trying to figure out why Cookie is so tough and unsweet. There are recipes for sugar cookies and dough-ornaments at the end too!
If You Ever Want to Bring a Pirate to Meet Santa, Don’t!
Another book in the Magnolia Says DON’T! series! We all love these books, and this is the newest one, perfect for a Christmas gift. In this one, Magnolia takes a gold-toothed pirate to meet Santa, and all kinds of mayhem ensues. It’s very funny and cute, and the illustrations, as usual, are wonderful! I pre-ordered this one, and I’m so glad we added it to our collection!
Y’all. This book is SO beautiful. I would buy it for all young ages, but I think it works especially well for the 5 and under crowd. Fewer words and more illustrations about the first snow of the season leaves lots of room for little imaginations to make up their own stories about snow and the kids in this book. The drawings are absolutely gorgeous. I know a couple of people who I’m buying copies for for Christmas!
*The Queen and the First Christmas Tree: Queen Charlotte’s Gift to England
I won’t lie. This is a children’s book, but as a royals fan, I love this book for myself! However, if you want to stick to gifting it to someone more age appropriate, I would say it’s perfect for kids who love to read the American Girl series. It’s about Princess Charlotte, who became queen when she married King George III of England, brought over her tradition from Germany of decorating a tree branch for Christmas. Over time, that turned into decorating an entire tree for the holidays, something England had never seen before. If you know a child (or an adult . . .) who loves historical fiction, the royals, or learning about women in history, make sure you get this book! It’s so good!
Construction Site on Christmas Night
My kids might be a little too old for this one, except I don’t think anyone is ever too old for wonderful picture books! We love Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site so much that I had to get this Christmas sequel. The trucks are all getting ready for Christmas, and there’s a special gift for each one. If your kids love the first book, you just have to get this one too! What a wonderful little series!
We Heart Books-Valentine’s Day Love!
Valentine’s Day is coming! Yes, I know it’s not a real holiday. Yes, I know it’s pretty much the worst holiday. But I don’t care, I like holiday-themed books, and we’ve got them for Valentine’s Day too! These are some of our favorites, and what we’re reading this week and next week in anticipation of the fun holiday. (That I completely use as an excuse to eat chocolate and cook heart-shaped pasta.)
This is probably our favorite out of the whole bunch, and one of our favorite picture book series. Love Monster, Love Monster and the Perfect Present, and Love Monster and the Last Chocolate is about an adorable monster who lives in Cutesville. He thinks he is anything but cute, since he doesn’t look like the other fluffy animals in Cutesville, but he finds a friend who thinks he’s perfect, and he realizes that he’s just fine the way he is. Each book focuses on an aspect of friendship and how friends love you for who you are. I LOVE them, and the illustrations are absolutely wonderful.
Slugs in Love
I bought this book because how often do you see a book about slugs in love?? It looked quirky and cute and it is! Marylou the slug loves Herbie the slug, but isn’t sure how to get him to notice her. Herbie feels the same way. Throughout the book, they write silly poems to each other all over a farm, and finally find each other in the end. It’s a very cute book, and not too mushy if you’re kids don’t like stuff like that. And it’s illustrated by Kevin O’Malley, one of my favorites!
A Valentine for Percy
If your child loves Thomas the train, he or she will love this sweet Valentine’s book! It’s very simple, about Percy searching Sodor for his Valentine, and all the engines celebrating together. There are also Thomas-themed Valentines included at the back of the book that kids can tear out and give to their friends, which might be worth it alone! Thomas Valentines can be hard to find!
The Kids of the Polk Street School-The Valentine Star
This was my book growing up, and I loved the Polk Street School series! I’ve been reading this one to my 9-year-old this week, and he really likes it. I would recommend the entire series, but if you want a Valentine-specific edition, you can jump right into this without having read the others. The students in Ms. Rooney’s class are making Valentines for each other and their teacher, but Emily Arrow is too focused on her new enemy, Sherri Dent, to focus on Valentine’s Day. It’s an easy read, and kids will identify with misunderstandings between friends and trying to impress the teacher. I’m so happy that this still holds up today!
Pee Wee Scouts: That Mushy Stuff
This was also my book growing up, and I have quite a few of the Pee Wee Scouts books too. The Pee Wee Scouts series is about a group of, you guessed it, Pee Wee Scouts, a group loosely based on Cub Scouts, with boys and girls. They earn badges together, play together, and get into trouble together. In this one, there is some mushy stuff, so be aware! A boy likes a girl, and while the Scouts are working on first aid merit badges, they also learn how to make Valentines with secret messages inside. The Scouts can’t decide which they like more, bandages or Valentines!
Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble
We got this book in our OwlCrateJr box for February, and while my kids are not interested in it, I definitely am! I love the premise, and it takes place in Texas! Leonora Logrono’s family owns a bakery in Rose Hill and is getting ready for one of the biggest holidays of the year, Dia de los Muertos. (The Day of the Dead, and it is a big celebration all over Texas-our favorite local bakery sells tons of sugar skull cookies around that time!) Leonora really wants to help her family prepare this year, but she is still too young. When she sneaks off to the bakery late one night, she discovers that the women in her family are witches. And not just any witches, but brujas, witches of Mexican ancestry. Leonora realizes she has the same magic inside her, and has to decide whether or not to use it to help a friend. I am SO excited to read this book, and I love that it is going to introduce kids to a whole new culture. Being from Texas (I grew up in a border town as well), I grew up surrounded by this holiday, but a lot of people don’t understand it. It’s a celebration of the dead, and an important holiday to the Hispanic culture. If you have an older child who wants a book with a lot of magic, and a little bit of that Valentine’s love thrown in, give this one a try. As soon as I’ve read it I’ll post a review, but it looks fantastic!
Christmas Book Highlight: Fly Guy’s Ninja Christmas
Today I want to highlight another of our favorite Christmas books! My boys love the Fly Guy series, and Fly Guy’s Ninja Christmas is great. The Fly Guy series, written and illustrated by Tedd Arnold, is about a boy named Buzz and his pet fly, Fly Guy. Fly Guy and Buzz can understand each other and they go everywhere together. In this one, Fly Guy is frantically searching for a present for Buzz on Christmas Eve, and he runs into a strange man in a red suit in his house. He uses his ninja skills (which any kid will appreciate) to fend off the mysterious stranger, and still has to find a present for his best friend!
This book is super cute, and if your kid likes ninjas at all, they will love this book. It’s really great for beginning readers to read on their own as well, or for more advanced readers who are looking for a quick, fun book to read. If you give books as gifts for Christmas, this is a perfect one to gift. (I wrapped it up for my 6-year-old last Christmas!)
Review: Mr. Dickens and His Carol
I have been dying to get my hands on this book for what seems like forever. It’s been much hyped in the bookstagram community, so when my library hold finally came in I rushed right over to get it. I enjoy reading holiday books, but I don’t generally go for the plucky, romantic books. (But you can bet I’ll be watching Netflix’s A Christmas Prince real soon.) Samantha Silva’s Mr. Dickens and His Carol is not that kind of book (although it is a wonderfully sweet story), and I absolutely loved it. If you’re looking for a well-told, historically-based holiday story, this is it!
. . . for the truth at the bottom of every illusion, every fiction, every lie: our own great desire to believe.
Mr. Dickens and His Carol, part fact part Silva’s imagination, begins with Charles Dickens himself in a holiday slump. He is sick of Christmas excess, sick of his family and friends always needing money from him, and sick of his publishers hounding him to write a Christmas book he doesn’t want to write. (And giving him only two weeks in which to write that book.) He isolates himself in a hotel room to write the book, for which he has little inspiration, and spends his nights taking long walks around London to try and clear his mind. On one of his walks, he meets a mysterious woman named Eleanor Lovejoy who challenges Dickens to re-think what he believes about Christmas, family, friendship, and love. Their friendship sparks a Christmas story that changes everything.
This is a feel-good story that isn’t cheesy. Dickens wants to believe in the spirit of Christmas again but is unable to because of all the pressure placed on him by everyone around him. That’s something we can all relate to on different levels. In her Author’s Note, Silva includes which parts are completely true, including the situation (A Christmas Carol was written out of financial necessity, and Dickens was under immense pressure) and some of the characters’ lines. She fills in the gaps to create a magical, sentimental story of how Dickens may have been inspired to write this story in her imagination.
This a beautiful story of love and family, of the Christmas spirit, and of a man who needed to find himself to break a serious case of writer’s block. I want to know more about Dickens and the history of A Christmas Carol now, and I’m already looking up more books about the subject! (There’s also a great twist that completely surprised me because I was so caught up in the story and how good the writing was. I didn’t see it coming at all!) Mr. Dickens and His Carol is a perfect holiday read, and I would recommend it to anyone.