Thursday, December 11, 2008

Favorite Holiday Stoires

One of my favorite activities around the holiday is reading good holiday books.  Corny as it may sound it is actually a really neat way to get into the holiday spirit.  If you are looking for the perfect holiday book to read, here are a couple of favorites that I like, for the young and old.  
1.  Donkey's Christmas Song by Nancy Tafuri.   This is an excellent read aloud for your littlest reading buddy.  The soft pictures,  the "songs" of the Animals in the barn that soothe the Babe Jesus and the donkey who is afraid his song will not be good make a wonderful feel good story.  The children will love the donkey and his song.  For Donkey finds out that  his song, loud as it is, is a joyful noise unto Jesus.  Very touching!  It's a can't miss story.

2.  The Polar Express by Chris Vans Allsburg.  This story has all the elements that we have come to love bout Christmas.  A train, a small boy and the magic of believing.  Timeless.

3. There Was No Snow on Christmas Eve by Pam Munoz Ryan .  A gentle reminder that the white Christmas that everyone dreams about was not what Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus saw on Christmas Eve.  The pictures are luminous, soft and inviting.  A nice way to remind children of the true meaning of Christmas.

4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.    The people of Who-ville are sweet, happy and just darn friendly.  Who would want to ruin their Christmas?  Only someone who has a heart two sizes to small!  Well, you know the story, and it still remains to be on the top of the list for Christmas

5.  A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz  It just isn't Christmas without Charlie Brown.  It doesn't matter if you watch the DVD or read the book.  This tale of Christmas always warms the heart.... Thanks Mr. Schulz!

6. A Creature was Stirring by Clement Clarke Moore.   This is a wonderful twist on the classic poem "Twas the Night before Christmas".  A little boy who is eagerly awaiting  Santa's arrival responds to each of the stanza of the famous poem.  It is a hoot and the pictures are wonderful. Moore does an excellent job of capturing the innocence of  a child's excitement at Christmas.

7. Dear Santa : The letters of James B. Dobbins. by Bill  Harley.  Need a good laugh?   Every child writes letters to Santa, but this little boy writes to Santa all December long.  Reminding Santa that he's been good,  nice to his sister, and explains why he has done some naughty things.   A nice change from the "normal" Christmas stories. 

8. A Wish to Be A Christmas Tree by Colleen Moroe   Everyone wants to be special.  Even trees in the forest who long to be  picked to be a Christmas tree.  One tree in particular, is too tall and is passed over many times.  With the help from the forest animals,  the tree gets his wish and is the most beautiful Christmas tree in the forest.  

9.  The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski.   The story begins with the new widow and her son coming to visit Jonathan to ask if he could make a new creche.  He agrees to do the job and eventually the lovely widow and her son make their way into his heart.  Very touching.  

10. An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco .   Based on the author's own family history.  This tale is about the Stowell, a family of nine during the Depression era in Michigan.  Frankie is the youngest of the family and he has learned quite about from his family about sharing what he has with he less fortunate.  Every Christmas, his father travels to Lansing  to get fresh 
Christmas oranges for each child.  When Frankie loses his orange,  the family gives back to him  the wonderful gift of sharing. It is sentimental, sad but worth the read. 

There are so many good books out there, and believe me, I know that this is just the tip of the iceberg.   So happy holiday reading! 

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My picks for Books to give for Christmas

The holiday season is upon us!  Yeah, let the shopping begin!  While you are out and about this Holiday season looking for that perfect gift, I have a condensed version of what to get for the reader in your life.   The books here are for teens, but adults may like them too.  So, here are the top  five picks for Christmas. 

The Boy who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti.  This book caused me to think really hard on what it means to stay silent or to take a stand.  It is about a 17 year old boy who is tried for Treason in Nazi Germany.  Helmuth Hubner's crime was listening to outlawed BBC radio and passing out leaflets that told the Germans the truth about the war.  In his heart of hearts, he wanted to make a difference.  He wanted to  see Germans set free by the truth.  In the end he pays the ultimate price for his crime.   

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt.  A wonderful story that made me laugh, cry and reminded me why I love Shakespeare so much! It is a coming of age novel set in the late 1960's in Long Island, NY.   Holling Hoodhood gets to sit with his teacher, Ms. Baker every Wednesday afternoon and read Shakespeare.  Not his idea of  the perfect way to spend an afternoon.   However, over time, he learns a lot of Shakespeare,  life and what it means to find his own voice.  Schmidt is a master at storytelling.  This is definite must read book.  

Schooled by Greg Korman  If there ever is proof that the 60's commune life style was only for the "far out" crowd,  this book is it!  Cap is a lovable character who finds himself in another world when he is sent into the real world after his Grandmother, Rain has taken a fall.  The comedy of how peace loving Cap changes the students at his middle school is sure to make the reader want to cheer for him too!  All the things that happen in this book are highly improbable but Korman is a master at making the improbable not only possible but believable.   This book is a total fun read.  

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale.  The Brother Grimms first told this story many years ago.  Ms. Hale retells it and brings new life to the story.  Dashti and Lady Saren are forced to live in a tower for seven  years because Lady Saren refuses to marry a man she not only hates but is afraid to be near.  Dashti is the strong handmaid who is saves them from the doom and finds true love in the process. 

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson.  Things are never as they seem.  Tyler who has just served community service time for a graffiti prank is implicated in a drunken crime which he did not commit.  No one believes him, and it is up to him to make the right choices that will determine his future.  Readers will root for Tyler and be happy that the good guy wins.  

This is just a few of my suggestions.   Well, I've got to go off shopping too!  See you around next time! 


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Justin Somper Vampirates

Okay, so it took me a while to get back to the blog, sorry.  I've been on vacation and all that jazz.  I am hoping, keep our fingers crossed, to be on the blog every other day.  So keep watch for new updates. 

The Vampirates series is good.  I wish I could have gotten more excited but the second of the series Tide of Terror was not as good as  the first.   I was really hoping for something more, not quite sure what, but it seemed to be lacking the excitement of the first book.  Perhaps, because the characters spent so much time at the Vampire Academy that I felt that the story was not moving as quickly as the first.  The character that intrigues me the most is the captain of the Vampariate ship.  He seems to know a lot more about the orphans and perhaps has a connection to their dad?  Um, makes me wonder and curious.   Am I giving up on the series?  Nope.  I am taking a break for a moment and reading other books. Which I will be discussing in other blogs.     Long story short,  I am still interested in what Conner and Grace are up to, just that I am taking a breather before jumping into the series again.  If  there are any favorites out there of vampire stories, drop me a line!