Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree by Lori Nichols is an adorable story of two sisters who seek out to find the perfect Christmas tree. All is good and well until Maple realizes she is allergic to the Christmas tree! This leads to a creative ending of a makeshift Christmas tree that both Maple and Willow get to have a part in decorating. This fun story is a must-read for young children during the winter season.
The ink, watercolor, and pastel pencil aspects of the illustrations make this such an endearing story. The use of white space goes along with the snowy, winter feeling of the book. The illustrations show the sisters’ expressions so nicely and help the simple text come to life.
Nichols captures the wonderful bond of sisterhood even if they make each other upset sometimes. The simplicity and use of white space make for a minimalist tone, which is different than the holiday chaos some families experience. The illustrations pop off the page compared to the stark white backgrounds and the mixed media of the pictures can mesmerize the reader.
Post by Olivia Pelletiere
With the holiday season coming up what better way to get in the spirit than some children’s’ literature? Today we are taking a look at “Refuge” a short picture book written by Anne Booth and illustrated Sam Usher. Although based on a classic biblical story, this unique retelling of the Nativity scene has an interesting unforeseen spin. I won’t give it away, but you most certainly have never read a book with this perspective before.
This is a great option to read with young kids to not only celebrate the one of the many different holidays coming up at the end of December, but also the simplistic drawings and muted colors make it a nice book just to visually enjoy, even outside the holiday season. It’s brevity and simplicity make it a refreshing addition to any children’s’ holiday collection. It would even make a great stocking stuffer! Since $1 is donated to refugees with every book sold, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Although the story does contain some pretty notable characters such as the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, it is not an “only for Christians” book. It would be just as easy to see the book as a story of seeking a home, loving your family, valuing every moment, and of course, seeking refuge. So feel free to snuggle yourself in your most comfortable blanket
and, with hot cocoa in hand, prepare to be awed by this quaint story.
The Great Spruce by John Duvall, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon, is a beautiful holiday story with a message that goes beyond just spreading cheer.
The story follows a little boy named Alec, who loves climbing trees in the countryside. His favorite tree to climb is the great spruce, which his grandpa transplanted there a long time ago. One day, someone from the town asks if they can put the spruce in the square for Christmastime. This is a great honor, but they want to chop down the tree to do so. Alec has to come up with a plan to save his tree.
The reader is immediately drawn in to the story with its atmosphere; still set during Christmastime, thought there’s not any snow yet. The entire book exuded early December, with brown expanses of grass and leftover fall colors. This subdued wintery background allowed brightly dressed townspeople and the strong green of the spruce tree to really pop. Gibbon’s artwork is careful and delicate, with shadows in all the right places and magnificent color choices.
The author John Duvall is actually a tree-care consultant, which made the eventual solution of transporting trees interesting since it was based on actual fact. Though the idea of saving trees is an important message, the communication of this moral doesn’t overpower the beauty and simplicity of Alec’s story. Each line is carefully crafted to be elegant and full of impact. The language is sensory and metaphorical, but simple enough that it won’t soar over kids’ heads (“shone like a Christmas tree lighthouse”). Even the smell of smoke is present in a scene in the city.
The Great Spruce leaves readers emotionally struck by its atmosphere, little Alec’s bravery, and its incredible hope. A must read for anyone looking for an original story this holiday season!
Post by Sophia Denney
Post by Carly Berger
As our society progresses and becomes more advanced in the realm of technology, it is important that children understand the importance of print literature. As great as an IPAD can be in helping children learn, nothing is the same as reading from a the hard copy of a book. This book is about Tek, a modern day cave boy who is engrossed in his technological devices. What he doesn’t realize at first, is that in order to live a more fulfilling and satisfying life, Tek needs embrace life, live in the present moment, and stop spending all of his time using technology.
This book is very humorous, and definitely keeps the reader’s engaged with the storyline and characters. The themes in this book are great lessons for children to learn about- McDonnell touches on the importance of embracing all life has to offer. Spending too much time on devices will stop people from enjoying the little happy things in life.
When all of Tek’s technology disappears from the fire, there is one solid black page that says, “disconnected” in white, and it is very powerful. When Tek woke up, the illustrations help to show how happy he was- it is almost as if he was in a completely new world. There are great, vibrant colors that aren’t too overwhelming and do not take away from the story, they just enhance it.
This is an excellent book to read to students because they will definitely be able to relate to Tek. I enjoyed reading this, and I don’t think the age range should be limited to children. The illustrations were very clever, as was the plot. For that reason, the text and illustrations definitely complemented one another. I also really liked how the author tied some educational components into the story, as there are clever references of events such as the ice age. Overall, this is a funny and clever book that readers of all ages would likely enjoy.
Llama Llama is a very popular book series that follows a young llama through various events in his everyday life. Anna Dewdney, the author of the Llama Llama books, published this holiday installment in the Llama Llama series in 2010. In the book, Llama Llama returns, this time dealing with the stress and anticipation of the holiday season. He counts the days until Christmas as he prepares by baking cookies, shopping with his mom, and making gifts.
Llama Llama is a character that many young readers may find relatable, and his struggles with his impatience resonate especially now as the holidays approach. It is very easy for the readers to place themselves in Llama Llama’s shoes and feel like they are a part of the story. Children may find it comforting that they are not alone in counting down the days until Christmas, and reading this book might distract them for while from staring at the calendar. In addition, the story is written in a rhyming pattern, so it is a great book for beginner readers.
This is a fun story that would be suitable for storytime in a classroom setting or for a bedtime story at home. The illustrations are bright and detailed; even the most reluctant readers can admire the pictures and engage in the story. Since this book is part of an ongoing series, readers might already be acquainted with Llama Llama when they pick this book, or if not, they might be inspired to read more from the series.