Since Read Aloud Thursday, which occurs on the last Thursday of the month each month, will fall on Christmas this month, I have decided to postpone 2014’s last RAT until the next Thursday, which will be the first day of 2015. (How confusing is that?!?) I will be sharing our Christmas (and other) read alouds between now and then, and on that date I will share a list of all of 2014’s chapter book read-alouds as well as our top picks. On January 1, please come back to link up your own 2014 read-aloud list, your top picks, what you read in December, or even a list of what you’ll be reading in 2015. Anything is fair game!
These two Cybils picture book nominees are both a little different, not your typical picture book at all. 100 Things That Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz is just that: an illustrated list of one hundred happy things. The beauty and joy of this book are the exuberantly, colorfully beautiful illustrations and the way the words rhyme. I think this book wound translate very well into board book format; the bright and bold illustrations are perfect for baby and toddler eyes, and the sing-song of the rhyme is perfect for little ones’ ears. Here’s one opening:
The typography, page design, and illustrations all complement the tone and spirit of the book beautifully. I thought my four year old list-lover would like this one a lot, but we made one pass through it and he opted for a different book. I think it might grow on him if we read it a few more times. I like it a lot. (Abrams, 2014)
I think I’ve mentioned a time or two that I don’t like a gimmicky book, haven’t I? Well, that’s how I would describe A Perfectly Messed-Up Storyby Patrick McDonnell. It’s the story of this little guy named Louie, only before Louie’s story can get off the ground, bad things begin to happen: a blob of jelly is dropped on a page of his story; someone’s inky fingerprints mar the page; a puddle of orange juice is spilled. Poor little Louie is dejected to the point of despair until he realizes that life goes on and his story is loved. Obviously, this wasn’t my favorite book, but the DLM loved it. I will hand it to McDonnell–the messes are very realistic, so obviously he is an expert at combining various artistic mediums. This one reminds me a little bit of Van Allsburg’s Bad Day at Riverbend. (Does anyone remember that one?) The DLM gives this one a Highly Recommended. (Little, Brown, 2014)
About a month and a half ago I received an email inquiry from an author about reviewing his book here at Hope Is the Word. This isn’t terribly unusual, and I don’t always accept the offered books for review. (I’m having a hard time reviewing anything nowadays, and honestly, my received-for-review stack often goes ignored for months on end.) Something about this description caught my attention since as you all know I have a soft spot in my heart for Christmas books. Thus, I offer to you The Night Before the Night Before Christmas by Jay Dee, which is, as one can surmise from the cover, a sweet Christmas story that involves Santa Claus and one of his elves. The elf’s name is Elfie, and he is one of many of Santa’s elves who is busy at work on the night before the night before Christmas. It turns out that Elfie is something I’m somewhat familiar with–a slow-working perfectionist: “but Elfie liked working for a long time on one toy–to make it perfect–rather than quickly making ten toys.” His elvish supervisor is nothing but frustrated with him, but it turns out that the Big Man in Red isn’t in the least. You see, Santa gave Elfie his assignment because of his determination to get it just right. It turns out that Santa isn’t so much worried about keeping a Naughty and Nice list; instead, he “find[s] people with love.” And this particular train isn’t going to just anybody. The story ends with Santa’s sleigh guided by a special star toward Bethlehem. Ah, yes. This story mixes Santa with the Real Meaning of Christmas. Unless this is problematic for you, this is a sweet little story that just might bring a tear to your eye. (Yes, I’m hopelessly sentimental.) Darren Geers‘ illustrations are simulataneously cartoonish and sweet. This is a sweet addition to our Christmas Book Basket. (Kraine Kreative, 2014)
This Wednesday will mark the sixth anniversary of Read Aloud Thursday! I started it on a whim way back when I only had two little girls who weren’t even near school age. That seems like ages ago! Since then, our family has grown to include two little boys, so I’m back to reviewing picture books as well as chapter books as time permits. I want to say THANK YOU to all of the RAT regulars. I consider most of you my “real life” friends, even though we’ve never met. I hope you all still look forward to RAT as much as I do!
To commemorate the occasion, I am giving away a couple of Christmas books that we love. These are gently used books, not new ones, but there’s plenty of life still left in them. They’re just waiting to be added to someone’s Christmas book basket!
The first book is Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell. This sweet picture book is one of my most favorites. I can’t imagine anyone not loving it.
The second book is The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt. It’s another personal favorite of mine. You can read more about it here.
I will be giving these away to two randomly chosen commenters on this post. To win, all you have to do is leave a comment telling me either 1.) how long you’ve been reading or participating in Read Aloud Thursday or 2.) the title of your favorite Christmas book. This giveaway will close on Thursday night at 8 p.m. CST and I will post the winners on Friday.
If you’re new to Hope Is the Word, welcome! You can read all about RAT here.
Happy Thanksgiving, RAT friends! I pray you’re all enjoying a beautiful holiday with your families! Of all the blessings in my life (and there are many!), I count you all some of the brightest! You’re such encouragers for me in this read-aloud lifestyle.
It’s been a busy read aloud month here at the House of Hope. Here’s what we’ve read since last month in the way of chapter books:
We’re still making our way through The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth Speare and enjoying it very much. I hope to finish it in short order (perhaps even before this coming weekend is out!) to move on to Christmas! Our Christmas book basket is our favorite Christmas tradition, and I always try to add a few things to it each year. This year I’m wrapping for the first time
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Advent Celebration by Ann Voskamp
Little Blue Truck’s Christmas by Alice Schertle
We Three Kings and Other Christmas Carols by H.A. Rey (a vintage book I bought at a used book store somewhere, and no, I have no idea why the image below is sideways )
The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder
The Box of Delights by John Masefield
That’s a lot, isn’t it? It’s possible we’ll also read The Family Under the Bridgeagain as a read-aloud, though I might turn this one over to Steady Eddie. The girls are participating in a bookclub next week (!), and this is the pick for it. We might just let them read it alone. We’ll see how it goes.
We’re enterting into my favorite season on the read-aloud calendar. What joy!
Please share your read aloud thoughts by either linking up your own blog posts or sharing in the comments.