Sunday, December 24, 2017

A World of Cookies for Santa

A World of Cookies for Santa by M.E. Furman, illustrated by Susan Gal (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017). 

This is a wonderful book that shows how children around the world celebrate Christmas, and specifically the types of cookies or treats that they leave for Santa. There are even several recipes included at the end. As a kid, I love learning about different cultural traditions, and I know I would have loved this book. There are many parts of the world represented and the beautiful illustrations radiate a cozy warmth. Next year I'll have to try one of the cookie recipes!  You can find some of them on the book's website here.

For more multicultural Christmas books, view my post here.

To all my readers: Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! I am very grateful for all of you, and the authors who have sent me their books for review this year. Thank you for your support.

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Christmas Caribbean Cat

The Christmas Caribbean Cat by Monica Surrena (2017).

I am happy to have the opportunity to review an interactive e-book, which is something new to me. I downloaded the book app and was pleased to experience an animated, narrated, interactive story with festive Caribbean music. I especially loved the narrator, a man named Gerry O'Brien, who really brought warmth and good cheer to the poem which tells the story. 

A cat lives up north but is tired of being cold all the time and decides to move to an island where it's always warm. Then Christmas comes and she misses the snow and feels lonely, not knowing anyone in her new home. So she bakes yummy Christmas cookies, and soon animals come to try them. They end up having a feast and the cat's happy because she now has new friends to help her feel at home.

One of the best things about this book is that the author/illustrator is donating 20% of the proceeds to hurricane relief in Culebra, Puerto Rico, where she lives. She is hoping to give the money to the preschool there. I really admire that she was able to create this e-book despite only getting power back a week ago. 

You can find links here to buy the book, available on the Apple Store and Google Play.

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

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Piece of Black Cake for Santa

A Piece of Black Cake for Santa by Yolanda T. Marshall, illustrated by Miley Torres (Garnalma Press, 2017).

When I came across this book online, I had to buy it. The author is Guyanese and lives in Canada. I love this story about a Caribbean family celebrating Christmas. It's fun to see Caribbean food and drinks represented, like sorrel, oildown, and of course black cake. 

You can find 10 traditional West Indian Christmas recipes here

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Sinterklaas by Kathy Dobson (self published, 2017).

On December 2, my mom and I traveled to Rhinebeck, NY to attend their Sinterklaas Festival. Inspired by the traditions of the Dutch who settled in Hudson Valley over 300 years ago, this festival is non-denominational and all-inclusive. It's a celebration of children, who are crowned kings and queens for the day, with dance, theater, and music throughout the day, which culminates in a huge parade that night.  

This is an enchanting book, particularly for anyone who has attended the festival. It tells the story of a Dutch girl's Sinterklaas doll that is lost at sea as she sails to America. The doll makes its journey to find a home, eventually turning into Sinterklaas the man, who walks in the parade.

You can read more about the Sinterklaas Festival in Hudson Valley here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Eli's 1st Winter Carnival

Eli's 1st Winter Carnival by Lisa Bowen, illustrated by Nina Vanessa Pontillas (Real Life Learning, 2016). 

This is a cute book about a little Canadian boy named Eli who is excited about going to his first winter carnival. He makes snow angels, goes sledding, has a snowball fight, and more. When he gets home, he has pancakes and cozy time with his family before going to bed thinking about his fun day. 

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

Saturday, November 25, 2017

No Chimney? No Problem!

No Chimney? No Problem! by Jodi Wojtowicz, illustrated by Breanna Sipple (Moon Jump Press, second edition 2017). 

Well, it's just about Christmastime already, and Santa will soon be visiting boys and girls around the world. But what if, like many people nowadays, you don't have a chimney? How will Santa deliver your presents? This book answers that question in a fun way that can lead to a new tradition. All you need is a magical key that only Santa can use (included with the book) and hang it on your front door. 

I wish I liked the illustrations better because I really like the idea of the magical key. I do appreciate that the characters have brown skin; it's nice to see that diversity, especially as the characters are drawn in such a way that many different types of people could see themselves as represented. 

You can buy the book here.

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

Monday, November 20, 2017

Mousekin's Thanksgiving

Mousekin's Thanksgiving by Edna Miller (Simon and Schuster, 1985). 

This book is about a mouse who wakes up on a cold November day to discover that the food he stored for the winter is gone. He goes to all the animals in the woods asking them who took his food, and they describe the large bird that gobbles. Come winter, the turkey digs up the food from under the snow and the mouse and all his animal friends have a feast. 

The text and watercolor illustrations evoke a calm, quiet atmosphere. This is the only Mousekin book I had as a kid, but I've discovered that it's actually part of a series. I look forward to checking out some of the other titles, especially the other holiday ones.

For more Thanksgiving books, visit my Pinterest board here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Smarty Locks and the Unforgettable Zoo

Smarty Locks and the Unforgettable Zoo by Marilyn Harary, illustrated by Janette Louden (self-published, 2016). 

This is an enjoyable story with fun illustrations about a girl named Smarty Locks with big curly hair.  She's excited to go on a school field trip to the zoo.  When it starts storming and the trip is cancelled, she and her classmates are upset. But Smarty Locks thinks hard to come up with a solution, and ends up saving the day.

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

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Halloween Surprises

Halloween Surprises by Ann Schweninger (Puffin Books, 1984). 

This is an adorable book that I enjoyed as a kid. It's about a family of bunnies celebrating Halloween. The book is set up like a comic strip, with speech bubbles telling the story as the bunnies create their costumes, make jack-o-lanterns, go trick-or-treating, and host a Halloween party. I especially love the tiny baby bunny.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Dahlov Ipcar's Maine Alphabet

Maine Alphabet by Dahlov Ipcar (Islandport Press, 2012). 

Dahlov Ipcar (1917-2017) was a talented and prolific author and illustrator who lived and worked on a farm in Maine for most of her life. The first children's book she illustrated was The Little Fisherman by Margaret Wise Brown in 1945, and went on to write and illustrate over thirty more.

Maine Alphabet is a wonderful collection of some of Ipcar's past illustrations, with one original illustration created for the board book. It captures an old fashioned Maine, with a lot of great animal art as well.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Hats of Faith

Hats of Faith by Medeia Cohan, illustrated by Sarah Walsh (Shade 7 Publishing, 2017). 

This little board book is a great way to introduce children to hats and head coverings from various religions and faiths. Each page has a different person and head covering. I love all the bright, colorful clothing. Young children may not be able to fully grasp the concept of faith-based head coverings, but they will at least be exposed to different types of people and dress. I could see this being a great conversation starter for older kids. There are also lots of great resources and teaching tools on the book website.

I had fun with the coloring pages below, which you can find on their website.

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

Sunday, September 24, 2017

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! by Alva Sachs, illustrated by Patricia Krebs (Three Wishes Publishing, 2009). 

This is the story of a day in the life of three best friends. Marcus, Justin, and Mario start their Saturday playing videos and making lunch. When they're not sure what to do next, Justin's dad suggests enjoying the nice weather outdoors, and helps them spruce up their old skateboards. They invite the other dads to come and watch them race in the park. While it's a simple story, it's nice to see diverse friendships and father-son relationships. I really love the illustrations by the Argentinean artist. 

The author and and illustrator have collaborated on several picture books. More information can be found here.

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