Posts tagged ‘family traditions’

THE TRUE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

Belle’s Christmas Surprise

Written by Carrie Joy Schafer Krause

Illustrated by Stef

This children’s picture book is beautifully illustrated with soft colors and detailed images of a close-knit family living in a small cabin on the Canadian prairie at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Belle is one of eight children living with her parents. Christmas is nearly here. She is excited. Each family member receives one small gift. Belle cherishes her delightful wiener treat. When she wakes up the next morning, her gift has disappeared! Will her Christmas be spoiled? Read the heartwarming tale to find out.

This multicultural book entertains and educates children. They learn a bit of history, culture and family traditions. Bonus activities include a find the hidden picture on each page, discussion questions for parents and teachers to use after reading, a Christmas cookie recipe, and instructions for a walnut Christmas decoration.

I recommend this book for elementary school and middle school children and their families or classrooms to share.

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Algorithms, family, and holidays, a winning combination.

Merlin Raj and the Santa Algorithm: A Holiday Yuletide Dog’s Tale

Written by D.G.Priya

Illustrated by Shelley Hampe

The author creates a unique plot that will engage middle-grade and young teens. She does a good job of explaining how algorithms work, while creating a heart-warming tale of family devotion and holiday spirit.

Peter has a service dog named Merlin who accompanies him to school. His Golden Retriever friend tries hard to serve his master but often winds up in trouble instead. Readers are treated to a Christmas tale in while the family struggles to maintain traditions like baking and cutting down the Christmas tree while mom is traveling for work.

Along the way, readers learn how algorithms work, enjoy a bit of humor, and empathize with a close family who just want to get things right.

The black and while illustrations are charming. They enhance the feeling of identification with both human and animal characters. Recommended for ages eight and older.

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#Give vs. Get

The Adventures of Pookie Presents: Mission Fat Hearts

Written and illustrated by Rebecca Yee

Playful pups Pookie and his new sibling Thor are sleeping comfortably in the living room. Kisa, a Christmas Elf, secretly leaves a note on their beds. It tells them to go to the Christmas tree. Kisa surprises them by jumping out. She urges them to go on a secret mission. Santa’s mission is for them to perform an act of kindness on each day of December until Christmas. Their reward will be to see smiles on those who receive their gifts. Pookie and Thor accept their secret mission with enthusiasm. Readers are urged to become co-conspirators and perform the same deeds.

This picture book spreads the true message of Christmas. Children are taught to give joy and happiness to others. Examples of deeds include giving hugs and giving thanks, donations, crafts, caroling, and visiting those who can’t leave home. The book could easily become a new tradition that families could share together.  The secret mission might also be carried out by classrooms and community organizations. My only suggestion to improve the book would be to include illustrations with the tasks. The illustrations disappear as the pages of the book unfold. A bit more color would sustain more interest with the youngest readers.

The Christmas season may have passed for this year, but this book is also a good way to spread the message of love for Valentine’s Day.

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IT’S WHAT’S INSIDE THAT COUNTS

The Tree Within the Tree

Written and Illustrated by Sally Huss

treewithintreepic

Sally places her message for this story right on the cover: The Importance of Appreciation. Alexander and Charlotte have only two dollars between them. They are walking through a Christmas tree lot on Christmas Eve. The owner informs them that they only have enough money to consider a tree on a pile of rubbish in the corner. There the two children discover a scraggly tree that desperately wanted to become a Christmas tree to make a family happy. The family is poor but determined to embellish their tree. As the tree gazes at the worn furniture and scanty possessions, it is amazed by how family members gather popcorn, aluminum and personal possessions to transform the scrawny tree into the most beautiful tree inside and outside.

Illustrations are simple and classic; this book will not only place smiles on the faces of preschoolers and primary school children, but remind children and adults alike to appreciate the little things and not become embroiled in the materialistic side of Christmas. Recommended as a bedtime story or read aloud for students and families to share.

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