The ABCs of Christmas {25 Books of Christmas Day 24}

The ABCs of Christmas by Jill Howarth
Pictures By: Jill Howarth
Published by: Running Press, September 27, 2016
Genre:  Board Book, Christmas
Pages: 26
Price:  $7.95
Source: read in-store

From Running Press:

Spread the joy of Christmas with this sparkly board book that features clever word associations and delightfully festive illustrations.

Review: I know I didn’t get to feature many board books and books for young readers in the 25 Books of Christmas.  But here’s another!  In the ABCs of Christmas each letter of the alphabet is featured on a page with rhyming text. The vintage illustrations give this book an old time, classic feel.  Glitter adorns each illustration and gives the pages texture.  This is a colorful holiday read perfect for the youngest of readers!

Overall Rating:  Optional Read

The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present {25 Books of Christmas Day 23}

The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present by Harriet Muncaster

The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present by Harriet Muncaster
Illustrated by: Harriet Muncaster
Published by: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (an imprint of Penguin RandomHouse), October 18, 2016
Genre:  Children’s Picture Books, Christmas
Pages: 32
Price: $16.99
Source:  borrowed from the library

From Penguin RandomHouse:

The Night Before Christmas meets Thumbelina in a toy-filled tale that celebrates the excitement and magic of the holiday season.

Clementine is a teeny-tiny girl who lives with her average-sized family. It’s mostly fun being the smallest, but Christmas can be tricky. Santa brings beautiful toys, but they are too big for this little girl.

Every year, Clementine tries to tell Santa she’s small. But the cookies she ices with a message to Santa are eaten, and the words she stamps out on the roof are covered by fresh snow. It’ll take a whole lot of Christmas spirit for Clementine to find the right way to reach Santa—and when she does, she just might get the toy of her dreams!

Harriet Muncaster’s whimsical illustrations shine in this celebration of creativity, gratitude, and the magic of Christmas.

Review: Clementine is the smallest girl in the world.  She enjoys being tiny, but not at Christmas when Santa delivers toys that are way too big for her to enjoy.  Each Christmas, she tries to leave a message for Santa to  let him know about her size.  However, her attempts are unintentionally sabotaged and Santa never receives her notes.  This year, her family helps come up with a plan to get the message to Santa.  Will they be successful?

This book cover has glitter lettering and the story is accompanied with colorful illustrations that will appeal to readers.  Overall, this was a cute story.  Clementine doesn’t seem  to be concerned about being different, except that she can’t enjoy the presents, as intended, that Santa gives to her.  (She is pretty creative in having fun with them!) As an adult, the one question I have is how does Santa not know about Clementine’s size?!!  He “sees you when you’re sleeping…”  and he “knows if you’ve been good or bad….”  I read this to my eight year-old-son who didn’t pick up on this.  Besides that concern, this was an enjoyable holiday read.

Overall Rating: Optional Read

The Lost Gift: A Christmas Story {25 Books of Christmas Day 22}

The Lost Gift by Kallie George

The Lost Gift:  A Christmas Story by Kallie George
Illustrated by:  Stephanie Graegin
Published by: Schwartz & Wade (an imprint of Penguin RandomHouse), October 18, 2016
Genre:  Children’s Picture Books, Christmas
Pages: 40
Price: $17.99
Source:  borrowed from the library

From Penguin RandomHouse:

In this charming Christmas-themed picture book that feels like a classic, four animals deliver a lost package for Santa.
It’s Christmas Eve, and Bird, Rabbit, Deer, and Squirrel are eagerly waiting for Santa to fly overhead. When he does, a gift tumbles out of his sleigh, landing in the woods. The friends find the gift and read the tag: “For the new baby at the farm. Love, Santa.” And so, in spite of Squirrel’s grumbling—“It’s not our baby”—they set off on a long journey to deliver it. Sweet, poignant, and starring a cast of truly adorable characters, this is a story sure to be shared year after year at Christmastime.

Review: Four animal friends stand on a hill, looking up at the sky waiting to see Santa.  As they watch him fly by the see a present fall out of his sleigh.  They sit and wait for Santa to come back and get it, but after waiting for awhile, they realize that he won’t be back.  Rabbit convinces the other animals to help find the present and then deliver it to its intended recipient, “the New Baby at the Farm.”  The four friends work together to build a sleigh to help transport the present.  After finally delivering the present and returning home they discover that Santa has left them a special gift.

This was a cute holiday read!  Young children will enjoy the animal characters and colorful pictures.  Older children will hopefully appreciate the themes of friendship, cooperation and perseverance.

Overall Rating: Recommended Read

Young Scrooge {25 Books of Christmas Day 21}

Young Scrooge:  A Very Scary Christmas Story by R.L. Stine
Published by: Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of macmillan), September 13, 2016
Genre:  Children’s Middle Grade Fiction, Christmas
Pages: 192
Price:  $16.99
Source: borrowed from the library

From macmillan:

A funny, scary middle-grade send up of A Christmas Carol, about a boy who hates Christmas, from bestselling Goosebumps author R. L. Stine.

Rick Scroogeman hates Christmas. He can’t stand the carols and the pageants. He can’t stand the lights and the mistletoe. But what he hates the most is having to watch the old movie A Christmas Carol every year at school. Since his name is Scroogeman, all of his classmates start calling him Scrooge. And he hates being called Scrooge.

But everything starts to change when three ghosts visit him. At first, he thinks it’s a dream. But then he realizes that it might be a nightmare. A nightmare that could become real.

Young Scrooge: A Very Scary Christmas Story is a mashup of holiday and horror, a perfect novel for middle grade readers who like their Christmas stories with a side of spooky.

Review: Rick Scroogeman is a twelve year-old bully.  He picks on the other kids in his class and is just downright mean.  He hates Christmas because December 25th is also his birthday.  He is bitter that his birthday never gets celebrated.  After getting revenge on his classmates and ruining the Christmas play Rick is taught a lesson.  The one thing that he is afraid of is ghosts.  In a retelling of the classic A Christmas Carol, Rick is visited by ghosts and taken on a journey to learn from his bad behavior.

My daughter has read several R.L. Stine books and enjoys them. The books are targeted towards older elementary and middle school readers.  While this book wasn’t scary, it does feature ghosts, which may be scary to some readers.

Overall Review:  Optional Read

A Fairy’s Gift (Disney: The Never Girls) {25 Books of Christmas Day 19}



A Fairy’s Gift (Disney:  The Never Girls) by Kiki Thorpe
Illustrated by:  Jana Christy
Published by: Random House, September 8, 2015
Genre:  Children’s Chapter Book (fiction), Christmas, Series, Media Tie-in
Pages: 224
Price:  $14.99
Source: borrowed from the library

From Penguin Random House:

Enjoy twice the fairies, twice the adventure, and twice the magic, just in time for the holidays. In a beautiful jacketed hardcover edition packed with illustrations, this special new Never Girls story by New York Times bestselling author Kiki Thorpe is the perfect gift for readers ages 6 to 9.

Review:  Kate, Mia, Lainey and Gabby are the Never Girls.  They believe in fairies because they can visit Never Land anytime they want and visit Tinker Bell, Fawn, Prilla and the other fairies.  On one of their recent visits  they learn that there’s a bad case of Disbelief.  Without children believing in them, the fairies are losing their magic.  They can’t fly or use any of their special abilities.  The girls convince Queen Clarion to let a couple of the fairies through the portal to try to get children to believe.  Mia and Gabby’s older cousin Angelica is visiting for Christmas and seems to be one of the biggest disbelievers.  Can the girls convince Angelica and others in time to save Pixie Hollow?

There are currently twelve books in Thorpe’s The Never Girls series, with A Fairy’s Gift being a holiday special.  This was the first book that I’ve read featuring the Never Girls and I think that it can be read as a stand-alone.  This isn’t much of a holiday read, as Christmas isn’t celebrated until the very end of the book. However, the overall theme of “believing” is relevant to the holiday.

This series is targeted to readers ages 6-9.  My 10 year-old daughter never got into this series, however, I think it’s a cute series for the targeted age group.  The cover is decorated with gold glitter and the book comes with an attached ribbon bookmark.  There are lots of illustrations and each page is outlined with a red snowflake and flower border.

Overall Rating:  Optional Read

What I Love About Christmas {25 Books of Christmas Day 18}


What I Love About Christmas by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
Pictures By:
 Maryann Cocca-Leffler
Published by: Sterling Children’s Books, October 18, 2016
Genre:  Board Book, Christmas
Pages: 22
Price:  $12.95
Source: read in-store

From author’s website:

This irresistible board book—with a pop-up, pull-tabs, flaps to lift, and wheels to turn—captures both the excitement of Christmas and the joys of being with family for the holiday. There’s a festive flurry as a bear family makes presents, bakes cookies, decorates their tree, and visits Santa, but most important of all: “What I love about Christmas / is time with YOU!” Every spread has at least one interactive element, and a beautiful final pop-up shows the bear family snuggled together.

Review:  I had to get some new Christmas book releases in for the younger readers!  What I Love About Christmas is a cute holiday read.  It’s an interactive book and kids will enjoy pulling the tabs, lifting the flaps and more.  The text is short rhymes, describing all of the fun things to do at Christmas time with a sweet message at the end.  The illustrations are bright and colorful.  This is a great holiday read for toddlers.

Overall Rating:  Recommended Read

How To Catch an Elf {25 Books of Christmas Day 17}

How To Catch an Elf by Adam Wallace 
Illustrated by:  Andy Elkerton
Published by:  Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, October 4, 2016
Genre:  Children’s Picture Books, Christmas
Pages: 32
Price: $10.99
Source:  borrowed from the library

From Sourcebooks Jabberwocky:

You’ve been waiting all year long, and now it’s finally Christmas Eve! Is this the year you’ll finally catch an elf? Start a new Christmas tradition with this hilarious children’s book from the creators of the New York Times best-seller How to Catch a Leprechaun!

“It’s Christmas Eve! Hip hip, hooray!
Yes, Santa’s coming ‘round.
He’s bringing toys to girls and boys
in every house in town.”

“Some kids have tried to catch him,
but Santa’s fast, you see!
So they’ve set their eyes on a smaller prize,
and now they’re after me!”

Review:  It’s Christmas eve and the elf has teamed up with Santa to avoid the kids’ traps.  The title is a bit misleading as there is no explanation of how to catch an elf.  It’s really how the elf avoids being caught.  The book is very colorful and children will enjoy seeing the different traps that “naughty” children have set.  The story is told in rhyme, with several rhymes being quite a bit of a stretch.  While this book has a cute overall concept, it wasn’t executed well.    I have not checked out Wallace’s other books in the series, How to Catch a Leprechaun and How to Catch the Toothfairy.

Overall Rating:  Optional Read

Giselle the Christmas Ballet Fairy (Rainbow Magic series) {25 Books of Christmas Day 16}

Rainbow Magic: Special Edition: Giselle the Christmas Ballet Fairy

Giselle the Christmas Ballet Fairy by Daisy Meadows
Illustrated by: Daisy Meadows
Published by:  Scholastic, 2016
Genre:  Chapter Book, Christmas, Series
Pages:  176
Price: $6.99
Source:  borrowed from the library

From Scholastic:

The Rainbow Magic Fairies have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads—it’s Christmastime in Fairyland!

Jack Frost is on the naughty list!

Each year, Giselle the Christmas Ballet Fairy’s special magic helps every holiday ballet show run perfectly. But when Jack Frost crashes a performance and steals her magic objects, it looks like everything will be ruined!

Rachel and Kirsty need to get the magic objects back in time for the Fairyland Christmas Eve ballet performance. They’ll have to harness all the magic of the season to help Giselle. If they don’t succeed, holiday shows everywhere will be ruined by Fairyland’s biggest grinch!

Find the magic objects in all three stories inside this Rainbow Magic Special Edition and help save the Christmas magic!

Review:  Rachel and Kirsty won a Best Friends Forever competition and get to spend the day at the Crystal Springs Ballet School as their prize.  Jack Frost is angry at Giselle, the Christmas Ballet Fairy and is trying to ruin her Fairyland Christmas Eve ballet.  He  steals Giselle’s magic objects, which in turn also have negative effects on the dancers at the Crystal Springs Ballet School, who are preparing for their performance of Swan Lake.  Giselle visits Rachel and Kirsty at the ballet school to enlist their help in getting her magic water bottle, dance bag and ballet shoes back.  Will they be able to help Giselle and ensure that both performances go smoothly?

Daisy Meadows is actually a pseudonym for the four English writers of this series.  The books are targeted towards readers ages 7 to 10.  There are over 200 books in the Rainbow Magic series including subseries of Weather Fairies, Party Fairies, Jewel Fairies and more!  Giselle the Christmas Ballet Fairy is a special edition book in the series.  The book consists of  three stories, each five chapters long.  I found the format of the stories to be a bit repetitive.  This is also not very Christmas-focused, except for the Christmas Eve ballet performance.  My daughter never really got into these books.  However, fans of the series will most likely enjoy this book as well.

Overall Rating:  Optional Read

The Great Spruce {25 Books of Christmas Day 15}

The Great Spruce by John Duvall

The Great Spruce by John Duvall
Illustrated by:  Rebecca Gibbon
Published by: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (imprint of Penguin Random House), October 18, 2016
Genre:  Children’s Picture Book, Christmas
Pages: 40
Price:  $17.99
Source:  borrowed from the library

From Penguin Random House:

Together with his grandpa, a young boy finds a way to save his favorite tree in this heartwarming Christmas tale
Alec loves to climb trees—the little apple trees, the wide willow trees, even the tall locust trees. But his favorite is the great spruce, with its sturdy trunk and branches that stretch up to the sky. Alec’s grandpa planted it as a sapling years and years before Alec was born, and every Christmas, Alec and his grandpa decorate the tree together, weaving tinsel and lights through its branches, making it shine bright.
But one day, a few curious men from the nearby city take notice of Alec’s glistening great spruce, and ask to take it away for their Christmas celebration. Though it’s a huge honor, Alec’s heartbroken at the idea of losing his friend. With great courage and creativity, Alec comes up with a plan to save his favorite tree in this joyful holiday tale.

Review:  Alec loves to climb trees, but his favorite to climb is the Great Spruce that his grandpa transplanted years ago.  Alec and his grandpa love to decorate the tree every Christmas, but this year is different.  Alec’s family is asked if the tree can be taken and used in a Christmas celebration in the city.   His parents are honored and agree.  But Alec cannot imagine life without his tree!  When the men come with saws to cut down the tree Alec comes up with a creative solution that’s a win for everyone.

We live in the suburbs of New York City and every year take a visit down to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree there.  This story is relevant to us, since the tree we see has to be cut down and transported to the city.   There’s an environmental-friendly message in this book about tree preservation.  The author includes a note at the end of the book about the tradition of Christmas trees and information and photos about how a tree is transplanted.  This book isn’t really Christmas focused but is a nice non-religious holiday read.

Overall Rating:  Recommended Read

The Christmas Eve Tree {25 Books of Christmas Day 14}

The Christmas Eve Tree

The Christmas Eve Tree by Delia Huddy
Pictures By:
 Emily Sutton
Published by: Candlewick Press, 2016
Genre:  Children’s Picture Book, Christmas
Pages: 32
Price:  $16.99
Source: borrowed from the library

From Candlewick Press:

It’s late on Christmas Eve, and the little fir tree is the only tree left in the shop. What a poor thing I am, it thinks. But then a young boy enters the store, drawn in from the damp by the warmth and lights and the wonderful smell of Christmas, and he doesn’t seem to mind that the scrawny tree isn’t tall and straight like the others. . . . This magical story, beautifully illustrated by Emily Sutton, captures an unexpected and unforgettable moment of happiness that brings a whole city together.

In a deeply moving story with the hallmarks of a classic, a homeless boy’s rescue of a spindly Christmas tree sparks a glimmer of hope that has far-reaching effects.
Review: A little fir tree is planted carelessly and ends up growing sideways and small.  After many years, the trees are large enough to sell in time for Christmas.  The little fir tree ends up being the only tree unsold and as the shopkeeper goes to throw it away, a little boy asks if he can have it.  The boy plants the tree in an empty cardboard box he finds and brings it under the railway bridge where he “lives” in a cardboard box.  The boy buys candles and matches to decorate the tree  The other homeless people return to their boxes for the evening and gather around the little tree.  A street performer sits down with his accordion and everyone begins to sing Christmas carols.  Soon more and more people stop by and join in singing.  The little tree helps brings the city together for one evening and “the magic of Christmas eve was everywhere.”
This book was so heart-warming yet so sad.  I was surprised when I discovered that the boy was homeless.  The book doesn’t focus on the boy’s homelessness though, but rather the spirit of Christmas and the “magic of Christmas eve.”  The book ends with a message of hope and resilience.  Filled with colorful illustrations, The Christmas Eve Tree has been one of my favorite Christmas books read this year!
Overall Rating:  Recommended Read