Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Stories for the Little Ones

As with Halloween, I have read quite a few Christmas children's books so far this month (and plan to be reading a lot more as the month progresses).  Instead of doing a whole lot of little reviews, which can be tedious and time consuming to read, I decided to do one long one with all that I have read so far.  I hope you enjoy these as much as the kids and I did - and please note that there are a couple of there we didn't enjoy very much and we tell you why. :)

The Lonely Christmas Tree
Shannon Glenn

Genre: Children, Christmas
Publication date: 12.12.2013
Pages: 3

Found for free on Amazon (currently $0.99)
Date read: 12.6.2014

Summary: A short bedtime story full of Christmas magic.  A lonely tree stands in an empty field on Christmas Eve.  Will the Christmas star grant his only wish?  Written for children, but enjoyed by all.

Such a plain simple cover and yet it really caught my attention.  And I must admit that the idea of a lonely Christmas tree really did break my heart.  Finding it for free, and seeing that it was only a couple of pages, I had to grab it up to share with my little friends.  

It was a very cute story that gave me goosebumps.  The sadness of him being lonely, then the sweetness and happiness that follows ... a very cute story that I plan to share again and again with the little ones.

Elf: The Maker of Santa's Christmas Toys
Kid Kongo

Genre: Children, Christmas
Publication date: 12.1.2014
Pages: 27

Found on Amazon for FREE (now $2.99)
Date read: 12.6.2014

Summary: Join Elf, the maker of Santa's toys, as he takes you on an adventure into Santa's workshop.  See what other elves do, meet Santa's rabbit, meet Tom Bell, Santa's dog.  A great children story for a soon to be holiday classic for your family.

Um ... I don't even know what to say about this one.  When I first found the book, there was only one review and, even though it was a 1 star and I felt what the reviewer said was inappropriate, it said that they really liked the book and, since it was free, I decided to give it a try.  I mean, it could have been good.

I am not a fan of the cover art and there are some editing and layout issues inside.  Parts of the story are cute, but it's very random and didn't seem to make sense, go together.  Unfortunately, it looks as if the author just threw it together last minute to make money.

I wasn't impressed ... and neither were the kids.

Merry Christmas, Little Hoo!
Brenda Ponnay

Genre: Children, Christmas
Publisher: Xist Publishing
Publication date: 11.1.2014
Pages: 32

Found on Amazon for FREE (currently $0.99)
Date read: 12.7.2014

Summary: It's Christmas Eve and Little Hoo should be sleeping.  But there are so many interesting noises!  Are there reindeer on the roof and elves in the kitchen?  Join your favorite owl and find out in this Christmas story that will make December bedtime more fun for toddlers, preschoolers and even big kids who can't help but believe in Christmas magic.

This book was so cute - it was neat to see all the sounds that he thought were one thing, but turned out to be something else.  And the book is full of beautiful illustrations!! - the last one being my favorite.  The kids AND I loved this story and we can't wait to read more from this author.  

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Charles M Schulz

Genre: Christmas, Peanuts
Publisher: Running Press Miniature Editions
Publication date: 10.16.2003

Found on Amazon ($11.41, but cheaper one for $5.95)
Date read: 12.7.2014

Summary: The beloved Peanuts holiday special about Charlie Brown, Linus, a sad Christmas tree that's rescued, and the meaning of Christmas first aired on television in the 1960s.  This charming, full-color abridgment of the animated classic is the perfect stocking stuffer to celebrate the holiday season.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of my favorite holiday movies and has been since I was really young.  My father used to watch it with my sister and I more than once each year, I watched it with my nieces when they were little, and I still watch it by myself.  When I found this one day on Amazon, I had to pick it up.  It is exactly what happens in the movie, but in book form.  And I'm not the only one who loves it - the kids ask for it too :)

Christmas Is a Time For ...
Preston Gerber

Genre: Children, Christmas
Publication date: 12.17.2013

Found for FREE on Amazon (currently $0.99)
Date read: 12.7.2014

Summary: While falling asleep one night, a young boy thinks of all the special things he thinks Christmas is a time for.  In the end he remembers the main reason we celebrate Christmas - the birth of Jesus.
            You and your special little ones are sure to be drawn in by the adorable images and timeless message of this short picture book!

Cute story, but it could have been better.  I mostly liked the pictures and the cover.  They looked like paintings young children would do and I thought they were very pretty.  The kids like the pictures as well, but weren't really interested in the story, instead choosing to make up their own to go with the pictures.

Santa's Sleigh Technology
Dan Jackson

Genre: Children, Christmas, Santa
Publisher: Dan Jackson
Publication date: 11.18.2014
Pages: 21

Found for FREE on Amazon (currently $2.99)
Date read: 12.7.2014

I found this book one day on Amazon for free and, after reading all of the great reviews on it, I decided to go ahead and pick it up.  There is no actual description on Amazon, just some tags and a clip from the book and it all begins with this line: "The most amazing and unique book for your kids."  Um ... no.  I really wasn't impressed at all.  The idea of finding out all the nifty gadgets that Santa has on his sleigh is a really cool idea, but unfortunately the book is a complete fail.  The pictures are all computer generated, the story is all over the place and disjointed, and every time the story gets interesting, it quickly becomes uninteresting.  The kids I shared this book with didn't even keep interested past the second book, complaining about the ugly pictures, and asking if we can read something else.  It does, at the end (I finished because I wanted to find out if it got any better), offer one of two free books if you sign up for the author's newsletter.  I went ahead and chose one, curious as to whether all of his book are this way, but it's been several days and I still haven't heard anything from the author.

Owyn Owl's Very First Winter
Pippin Post

Genre: Children, Holidays
Publication date: 8.29.2014
Pages: 24

Found for FREE on Amazon (currently $3.99)
Date read: 12.6.2014

Summary: Join Owyn Owl as he experiences his very first winter!  From bare trees and rain, icy glistening hills to shrinking snowbanks, the wonder of the season is all around him.

This was a cute story with adorable illustrations.  Owyn is enjoying his first winter and is making all kinds of friends, but, as happens with young ones, he doesn't understand what is happening and why it all has to change.  Thankfully his mom is there to answer all of his questions.  I would like to see more of Owyn in future books.

Webster Seeks a Job from Santa
Beatrix S Tambunan

Genre: Children, Christmas, Santa
Publication date: 12.9.2012
Pages: 24

Found for FREE on Amazon (currently $2.99)
Date read: 12.6.2014

Summary: All fishing jobs in the South Pole were gone since all of them went to fast Penguins.
            Webster is a small penguin who decides to leave the South Pole to look for a toy making job from Santa.  Family, friends, and a stranger said he was wasting his time and Santa only used elves.
            Was Webster wasting his time?  Was everyone right?  Did Webster get hired?

I really like when books use pictures that look like a child drew them, especially when it's put together well, and this is one that was put together well.  I like the way Webster is depicted quite a bit.  It's also a good story - interesting and fun, with his adventure to the North Pole to try for a job - but I expected, and would have liked, a little more.

Twas the Night Before Christmas
Clement C Moore
Edited by Santa Claus "for the benefit of children of the 21st century"

Genre: Children, Christmas, Santa
Publisher: Grafton & Scratch Publishers
Publication date: 8.31.2012
Pages: 32

Found for FREE on Amazon (currently $0.99)
Date read: 12.6.2014

Summary (excerpts from Amazon): 
Gold Medal Winner 2012 Moon Beam Children's Book Award Best Holiday Book.  1st place winer for the Global International Best Christian Children's Book.  Winner of 4 IBPA 2013 Benjamin Franklin Awards, including first place best cover, Moonbeam Children's Book Awards 2012 Gold Medal best holiday book, first place at the Global International Ebook Awards best Christian children's title, gold place for the Mom's Choice Award in 2013.
            This colorful and bright edition was created with young readers in mind.  Attracting global media attention, The BBC, The View, The Colbert Report, New York Post, Huffington Post, and many others for what the Kirkus Review calls a legitimate editing of the reference to the pipe and wreath of smoke for the first time in the history of this, the most famous poem in the English language.  This is the edition that is credited with having Santa stop smoking after 189 years and for taking a small bite out of history.  The public health sector, parents, educators and grandparents have applauded and welcomed the addition of this child friendly edition.  The debate over the edit went to the airwaves, including the BBC, and National Public Radio.  The book became a bestseller on Amazon in both 2012 and 2013 with hundreds of positive reviews to its credit.  Over 1,000 children aged 3-7 were interviewed about smoking and the result was that 98% of them wished no one smoked.  This was produced with these children in mind.

I found this book for free on Amazon and thought it was really interesting that this book had the part of smoking edited, by Santa Claus himself, out of the story.  That was one of the things that always got me thinking when I was younger about the original - my parents smoked for awhile, my sister does now, but I never have and always thought it was disgusting that he did.  

This is one of my favorite Christmas stories - beautifully done with some amazing illustrations.  Definitely a must for people who love Christmas books, especially this story, and so worth what the author is selling it for.

The 12 Days of Christmas
Xist Publishing

Genre: Children, Christmas
Publisher: Xist Publishing
Publication date: 11.11.2012
Pages: 29

Found for FREE on Amazon (currently $0.63)
Date read: 12.6.2014

Summary: "On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..."  So begins one of the most famous Christmas carols in the English language. In this edition, the iconic images are paired with the poetry of the song to ensure that future generations will stack outrageous gift upon gift for years to come.

This is one of my favorite Christmas songs and this particular rendition has the most beautiful pictures.  There is also a history of the song included in the back, which was nice to read.  The kids loved looking at the pictures while listening to the song, and have asked to look at the pictures several different times in the "special chair."

Letters from Santa
Katrina Streza

Genre: Children, Christmas, Santa
Publisher: Xist Publishing
Publication date: 12.9.2012
Pages: 56

Found for FREE on Amazon (currently $0.99)
Date read: 12.7.2014

Summary: Santa shares his favorite things about Christmas in this alphabet book.  Learn the ABCs with holiday cheer and a fun rhyming children's book about christmas.  For children ages 2-5.

Katrina Streza caught my attention with this cover.  I love holiday art that resembles things you would have seen in the 50s, especially with the light blue and red combination.  I also like Alphabet Books, which are great ways to teach little ones the ABCs.  This one is very cute.  Each letter is a stamp, which shows that they use the word "letters" in two ways: letters of the alphabet, and letters like children send Santa (this allowed me to teach my kids that some words have different meanings, an additional learning situation that was unexpected).  The words for each letter are things (the author says "traditions") that Santa likes, such as "A is for angel" and "B is for bird."  

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