Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Counting to Christmas

Counting to Christmas by Nancy Tafuri (Duck Pond Press, 2014). 

I really love this book. The text is simple but lovely and the illustrations are wonderful. It shows a girl as she counts the days to Christmas and what activities she does each day, such as baking cookies, making cards, stringing popcorn, playing recorder at a recital, and making treats for wild animals.  I like that it starts with her opening an advent calendar, and the image on the calendar is then the last page of the book. Also her pet Keeshond follows her throughout, which is very cute. In the back of the book are instructions for the activities and recipes that were shown in the story. I definitely recommend this for a nice holiday read!

For more Christmas books, see my Pinterest page. I also have a list of multicultural Christmas books here.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Pinkaboos

The Pinkaboos series by Jake and Laura Gosselin, illustrated by Billy Kelly (Andrews McMeel, 2016). 

Note: Although I was provided with free copies of these books, the opinions in this review are my own.

This is a great beginning to a middle grade series aimed at girls. The Pinkaboos are a group of friends who are frights (illustrated as various types of monsters) who attend Fright School to learn how to help little human girls conquer their fears by entering their dreams and chasing away nightmares (who are also shown as monsters). 

I quickly became invested in the story, which is imaginative and fun. I liked that it didn't shy away from some dark elements, like a fright who is a school bully becoming a Nightmare. Before starting to read, I wasn't sure if the message of "overcoming your fears" would be too heavy handed, but the authors do a good job of "show, don't tell" and focus on the imaginative details of their invented world.

The illustrations are super cute and playful. I also really liked that there are activities and fun facts at the end, such as the history of the legends of giants, and a worm cupcakes recipe. Each book is quite short (as an adult, it took me about 15 minutes to read each) so I think kids will anxiously be awaiting more stories in the series. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the authors in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Bear in the Sky

Bear in the Sky by Stefan Czernecki and Timothy Rhodes, illustrated by Stefan Czernecki (Hyperion, 1990). 

This was a childhood favorite of mine. Judging from the little I could find online, it doesn't appear to be a well-known book, which is a shame. The folk art illustrations left a strong impression on me.  

This is an origin story for the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear. The title bear loves to dance in the forest with the birds and other creatures.  When he is shot with an arrow by hunters, a gypsy couple nurses him back to health, names him Zloty, and gives him a velvet vest. His joyful dancing cures a princess who cannot smile.  However, she is a cruel princess, and keeps Zloty captive.  When he will not dance for her anymore, she gets mad and throw his vest out the window, which disappears and leaves a stairway of stars. Zloty climbs the stars into the sky, where you can still see him dancing.