A Library Book for Bear by Bonny Becker; illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
This is a sweet story about Bear who has seven books on his mantle, and that’s enough for him! However, he promised to visit the library with mouse. At first, Bear struggles to see the value of so many different books, but comes around when he hears the librarian telling a story that catches his attention.
I liked the watercolor illustrations and I loved that it was a book about books! I think children would easily identify with Bear- having a loud voice in the library, the quest to find a book specifically about their interests, and finding a new book to love.
The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
You guys, the pony FARTS!! This book is hilarious and adorable!
Princess Pinecone’s birthday is coming up and she wants a big, fast, strong horse so she can be a great warrior. The pony she gets doesn’t quite meet her expectations. Can she train her roly-poly pony in time to win the great battle?
Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds
Marisol is an artist. She paints every day and has her own gallery (on the fridge). When her school class gets the assignment to paint a mural in the library Marisol is excited and volunteers to paint the sky. There’s just one problem. There isn’t any blue paint left! She ponders what to do through the night and has a dream full of color. The next day she knows exactly what to do. She gathers all the colors of her dream and creates a whole new color. When the mural is complete the class stands back in admiration.
I found it interesting that Marisol loved art but found a challenge in painting the sky. Her fist reaction was to paint it blue, but after some thought and a dream she realized the sky is so many different colors- red and yellow of sunsets, blacks and purples of night, and the grey of rainy days. She learned to see beyond the obvious and contributed to a beautiful work of art.
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
Vashti doesn’t think she can draw. Her art teacher encourages her to mark the paper in some way, so in her frustration Vashti grabs a marker and puts a dot in the center of the paper. Then her teacher makes her sign it. The next time she goes to art class, Vashti sees her dot picture framed and hanging on the wall. Still a little frustrated Vashti grabs her painting supplies, determined to make a better dot than her first. This determination takes her to a whole new creative mindset. She paints dots after dots; big, small, red, yellow, blue. At the school art show all her paintings are on display. One young boy compliments her artistic ability and admits he can’t draw straight line (even using a ruler). Vashti asks him to show her, which he does, and then she asks him to sign it!
What a patient and caring art teacher! She helped Vashti unlock her artistic potential, and in turn Vashti did the same for the young boy at the end. I love that this book and the others in the “series” focus on art and how it can unlock a child’s potential, confidence, and imagination.
Holly Claus: The Christmas Princess by Brittany Ryan; illustrated by Laurel Long and Jeffrey K. Bedrick
In a letter to Santa, one little boy asks the question never before asked. What does Santa wish for?
He wishes for a child of his own, and Holly Claus is born. Unfortunately, an evil warlock named Herrikhan casts a curse that encases her heart in ice and locks the inhabitants of Santa’s kingdom within its gates- even Santa cannot leave to bring Christmas to the children of the world.
As she grows, Holly’s love for others also grows. She desires to do something that will help the children of the world. Santa tells her, “One day you will perform a unique act of kindness for the people of the world, and your generosity will be recorded here. It is your life’s purpose, and it will be made clear to you when the moment is right.”
Holly does indeed recognize the moment. She escapes the closed gates and makes her way to the Empire City. There she befriends and quickly falls in love with a man. *SPOILER* He’s the young boy who wrote the letter. Holly confronts Herrikhan and realizes that love is the only thing that can lift the curse. She triumphantly returns with her true love, having restored Christmas and the joy it brings, to the world. Her good deed is recorded in the ancient Book of Forever and everyone lives happily ever after.
First off let me say how gorgeous the illustrations are! So magical and full of rich detail. I picked up this book because of the lovely portrait of Holly on the cover. The story itself is a shortened version of a longer narrative. Unfortunately that makes it seem slightly disjointed. Suddenly something else is happening without a proper bridge from one action to the next. That being said, it wasn’t hard to follow the story. The big moments that would stick in a child’s mind were still there, and I did enjoy reading it.
Here Comes Santa Cat by Deborah Underwood; illustrated by Claudia Rueda
Cat wants a present from Santa. There’s just one problem. He hasn’t been very nice this year. To ensure he gets one, he decides to become Santa so he can give himself a gift! But being Santa is harder than Cat thought. So he gives being nice a chance. Through several well-meaning attempts at being kind, Cat finally does something nice for someone else. It’s a Christmas miracle when Santa comes, in person, to give Cat a wonderful present!
Such a sweet book! I love the art! It has a simple color palette of red, cream, and white with a few accents of green and black. Every page of text has a coordinating image of Cat. His expressions give him such a fun personality, and they help tell the story! The text was straightforward and conversational which made it easy and fun to read. This cute cat may help remind young kids to be nice during the holiday season! Remember, Santa knows if you’ve been bad or good!
Where Teddy Bears Come From by Mark Burgess; illustrated by Russell Ayto
Little Wolf has trouble sleeping. Believing a teddy bear will help him sleep, he sets off on a journey through the forest to find out where they come from. He first heads to Wise Old Owl, then the Three Little Pigs, and finally Little Red Riding Hood. She doesn’t know where teddy bears come from, but suggests he ask Goldilocks (because she knows a lot about bears). On his way to see her, Little Wolf meets Santa and explains his dilemma. Following Santa’s counsel, he heads home, hoping to have the answer in the morning. When he wakes he finds a teddy bear- a gift from Santa!
The best part of this book was Little Wolf’s journey through the classic children’s stories that feature a wolf. I thought that was clever. However, adding Santa at the end felt out of place and random. There was no previous mention of wintertime or Christmastime. In addition, I didn’t like the artwork very much. Little Wolf himself was cute, but the colors were dark and the images stark. I don’t feel it was very easy to see the details on the page.
Nuts in Space by Elys Dolan
What a fun book! The crew of the Super Stealth Covert Cruiser have found the Lost Nuts of Legend and are about to return home. Unfortunately, they have run out of food and someone ate the directions for home. They visit the space station cafe, a small moon inhabited by green aliens who are allergic to nuts, a forest planet where the bear citizens try to eat them, and The Death Banana, hoping someone knows the way ask home.
I was fully engaged in this book! It was fun to read what each animal was saying and thinking thanks to the conversation bubbles- they add personality to the crew and the other characters they come in contact with. The crew costumes (not so subtly) allude to Star Trek, and the groups of creatures they meet are obviously modeled after Star Wars. It’s a very creative, colorful, and funny kid’s book!
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
This cute little book won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award. It’s about a bear who loses his hat and wanders around asking all the animals he meets if they have seen it.
It’s a quirky book due to its simple but delightful illustrations and the bear’s direct and polite language. A quick, but amusing read.
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
Apparently this book is a beloved classic for many of my friends, but I did not grow up reading it. I figured I’d give it a shot.
Stellaluna is a baby bat who becomes lost from her mother during an owl attack. Scared and alone, she is welcomed and cared for by a bird and her three babies. They do things differently than Stellaluna was taught, but she goes along with their eating, sleeping, and flying habits, and builds a strong friendship with the baby birds that endures even after Stellaluna finds her mother again.
I thought the story was a little sad. She loses her mom and has to conform to a new and awkward way of living for a bat. However, I was glad that she finds her mom in the end. The illustrations are lovely, and many depict humorous facial expressions which help to lighten the mood. I appreciate that a bat is the main character. It brings a uniqueness to the story that a puppy would not have been able to achieve.