Christmas Comes to Perfect Picture Book Friday!

From reading the stories I share each week that tie into my Perfect Picture Book Friday reviews, you’ve probably gathered that I look upon my childhood as a sweet place bathed in golden light. When I remember Christmas, I’m flooded with so many memories that the visual would resemble miles of Christmas lights. Here’s a look inside my thoughts.

I’m standing in my childhood kitchen, wearing a thin layer of flour, kneading the buttery dough that my sister, mother, and I will soon roll out. From our drawer of cookie cutters, we choose our favorites: an angel with wings spread wide, Santa carrying a sack of toys on his back, a hat-topped snowman, an assortment of trees, and hearts. Yes, hearts because Christmas delivers a bushel of love to our home that deserves heart-shaped cookies.

A second later, I’m crunching through knee-deep snow with my sister and Dad at the Christmas tree farm. Our noses are rosy, we can’t feel our fingers or cheeks, but we’re too happy to mind. We climb up on a horse-drawn hayride that brings us through a frozen field. We stroll through a forest of pines and choose the one fragrant tree that will hold our favorite ornaments. After Dad cuts down the tree, we return to the red barn for hot-spiced apple cider and warm doughnuts.

And then I’m grown up, a mom, sneaking downstairs at three in the morning to fill up stockings with tiny gifts and sweets, hide an elf, pen a tiny letter in even tinier text from the elf, sneak a bite of a cookie meant for Santa, (shhh, that’s supposed to be a secret) and climb back into bed to catch a couple of hours of sleep before I hear a small, eager voice call, “Get up! Get up! Santa came! Santa came!”

In addition to my Christmastime memories, I love the books that speak to this holiday. So, as my gift to you, I’m sharing a stack of some of my favorite literary treasures for little ones.

The Twelve Days of ChristmasThe Twelve Days of Christmas, illustrated by Anna Wright. 

To me, this book is truly a treasure to page slowly through. You’ll be met with lovingly created illustrations as well as many surprises. Get ready, because this book delivers the gift of holiday magic straight into your heart.

Link to Amazon HERE.

 

Christmas in the Big Woods (Little House Picture Book)Christmas In The Big Woods, adapted from the Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I grew up reading the entire collection of Little House on the Prairie books and have a soft spot for the family that grew up and lived in the cozy cabin nestled deep in the woods. This little book brims with molasses candy, the jangle of sleigh bells, flannel nightgowns, peppermint candy, red mittens, and a Christmas breakfast served up with gingerbread men-shaped pancakes. Yum!

Link to Amazon HERE.

 

Allie, the Christmas Spider, written by Shirley Menendez and illustrated by Maggie Kneen.

I can only describe this story as captivating, enchanting, and lovingly-written. Even if you aren’t a fan of spiders, this story will not only have you rooting for eight-legged, little Allie, but it might bring up a tear of happiness when you discover the gift she gives a special family for Christmas.

Link to Amazon Here.

 

The Night Before Christmas, words by Clement Clarke Moore, Uniquely illustrated by Raquel Jaramillo aka R.J. Palacio (author of Wonder).

Sure, the old-time, sepia-tinted photograph of Santa grabbed up my attention, but it was the letter to the reader, written by the illustrator, that captured my full attention. Apparently, Ms. Jaramillo, also known as R.J. Palacio, discovered an album of photographs under the floorboards of her home taken in 1901 on Christmas Eve. The photographs, she shares inside this book, inspired her to recreate photographs of her own to illustrate the beloved poem by Clement C. Moore.

You truly won’t want to miss this visual feast!

Link to Amazon HERE.

To each of you and your families, I wish you peace and love during this holiday season.

Leslie

A Loving Father + A Pickle-Loving Boy This Perfect Picture Book Friday.

If I could describe the ideal dad, he would be quick-witted, knowledgable on countless subjects, ready with a helpful answer, have an out-of-this-world imagination, love good conversations, have a few good jokes up his sleeve, show a genuine interest in my life, offer a safe place to turn to, and adore hugs as much as I do. Thankfully, this describes my dad. And I miss him beyond belief. This brings me to today’s Perfect Picture Book review about a boy who loves pickles.

You’re doubtlessly wondering how a pickle could tie into the description of my dad, but believe me – IT DOES!

Years ago, Dad and I were out grocery shopping. He called out each item on the list as I steered the cart down the aisles, finding what he needed. As we scanned the olives, a little boy, sitting in a nearby grocery cart, reached his fingers out to a jar of pickles. “No!” his mother scolded. “I’m not buying those. We don’t need them.”

My dad watched the little boy’s face cloud up. And as tears pooled in the child’s eyes, I could feel my dad hold back a sea of his own tears. He reached into his pocket, pulled out his wallet, and handed the mother a few dollars. “Please let me buy your little boy his pickles.”

A quiet moment passed between the mother and my dad. Finally, she accepted the dollars and placed the jar of pickles into her child’s hands. The hug that pickle jar received was greater thanks than my dad could have ever wished for.

Years have passed. I’m a mom now. And thanks to my dad, I learned many valuable lessons–the most important is knowing when to buy the pickles.

Pickles, Please! is written and illustrated by Andy Myer. I hope you’ll get a copy and enjoy this fun(ny) story as much as I do. And while you’re at it, pick up a jar of pickles to nosh on!

 

Title – Pickles, Please

A dilly of a book by author and illustrator – Andy Myer.

Published by – Running Press Kids – 2011

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics/Theme – A favorite snack

Opening – Alec Smart loved pickles. Big pickles, small pickles, round pickles, sliced pickles. He loved sweet ones, sour ones, salty ones, and spicy ones. He liked them made from cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, and onions. Even watermelon!

Amazon Review HERE– If you ask a kid what their favorite snack is, most will say pizza, cupcakes, or ice cream. But not Alec Smart—he loves pickles! None of his friends at school understand his taste for pickled treats, nor do his parents. However, one day, just when Alec is pondering how lonely it is to be the only pickle enthusiast around, he comes across a pickle delivery truck and decides to jump in! What will happen when he arrives at the pickle factory? And who will he meet? The lesson learned in this humorous, pickle-filled adventure is that embracing your true colors brings with it special and tasty rewards!

Learn more about Andy Myer HERE.

Get a recipe to make your own tasty pickles HERE!

Until next Friday!

STEM + POETRY Meets Perfect Picture Book Friday

Growing up with an astrophysicist for a dad may account for the less than usual table topics my family enjoyed during breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack breaks, long drives… You get the picture.

Most of Dad’s “mini science talks” inspired me to ask questions…

“How is it possible for the sun and moon to share the sky this morning?”

“What would happen if I stumbled into a black hole?”

“Do aliens give each other birthday presents or hugs?”

I asked heaps of questions, and my dad answered them all. And if he didn’t know the answers to my questions about life on other planets, by golly, we had the best time inventing those worlds as well as the customs and traditions of their inhabitants.

One thing we didn’t do was to invent poems to explain this or that about the world of science. And that’s where today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection comes in handy!

Time to meet today’s special book!

Title – Science Verse

Written by – Jon Scieszka

Illustrated by –Lane Smith

Published by – Penguin Young Readers Group – 2004

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics/Theme –  STEM poems and science

Opening – On Wednesday in science class, Mr. Nwton says, “You know, if you listen closely enough, you can hear the poetry of science in everything.”

I listen closely. On Thursday, I start hearing the poetry. In fact, I start hearing everything as a science poem.

Mr. Newton has zapped me with a curse of SCIENCE VERSE.

(And the following pages are filled with some of the most entertaining, giggle-worthy science poems you’ve ever heard!)

Amazon Review HERE — What if a boring lesson about the food chain becomes a sing-aloud celebration about predators and prey? A twinkle-twinkle little star transforms into a twinkle-less, sunshine-eating-and rhyming Black Hole? What if amoebas, combustion, metamorphosis, viruses, the creation of the universe are all irresistible, laugh-out-loud poetry? Well, you’re thinking in science verse, that’s what. And if you can’t stop the rhymes . . . the atomic joke is on you. Only the amazing talents of Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, the team who created Math Curse, could make science so much fun.

Why do I like this book? Simply put, this book makes learning about science fun! And I dare you to try and read it aloud without singing. That’s right. I said SINGING! This book isn’t just a collection of science poems; each poem is written to the tune of a well-known poem or nursery rhyme. Picture me, sitting on one of those little chairs at the library, singing to a poem in this book titled TWINK. Yup, you guessed it, TWINK is a science poem written to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Join me for the first line, won’t you?

Twinkle-less, twinkle-less spot of black, in the starry zodiac…

Jon Scieszka’s poems deliver fun facts about science with a heavy-hand of humor. Now, tie those poems together with Lane Smith’s AMAZING illustrations, and you’ve got a book you’ll want to own.

More Science Learning

If you LOVE all things science, hop over to the S.T.E.A.M Powered Poetry Vlog HERE where your host, and my good friend, Heidi Bee Roemer is ready to take you on a fun journey into the world of science through kid-friendly poetry videos!

Watch 10 easy science experiments you can share with kids HERE.

Cool-to-watch and do experiments with water HERE.

Learn more about Jon Scieszka HERE.

Learn more about Lane Smith HERE.

Until next Friday!

A Distant Vacation + A Famous Bookstore = Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday

I was away last week on a much-needed vacation. I traveled to a city where architectural wonders rose around me as I ventured down narrow, cobblestone streets. Everywhere I turned, views left me breathless and reaching for my camera. Late one afternoon, I rode up an elevator with my family that carried us closer to the clouds and revealed an unforgettable 360-degree sight of this bustling city that never sleeps.  I toured museums, boasting treasures I had only seen in books but now stood before in awe. I tucked into tiny shops filled with tantalizing delights. I ate in restaurants that offered unbelievable, culinary masterpieces for the tummy and the eyes!

A famous store in this city made it high on my must-see list.

Misleadingly small on the outside, but filled with a labyrinth of book-filled rooms on the inside is how I would describe the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris. 

When I packed my suitcase for this trip, I brought as little as possible so as to leave as much room as possible for a few Parisian souvenirs. I imagined strolling along the Champs Elyse’es, saying, “Oooo-La-La!” each time I fell in love with a sweater, purse, or scarf. Maybe I’d bring home a small replica of the Eiffel Tower to sit beside me at my desk or a box of utterly-divine chocolates. Instead, I needed to borrow space in my husband’s suitcase for the stack of books I couldn’t resist. 

The interesting detail about the book I’m sharing with you today is that I purchased it without knowing what the story was about. For the first time, I didn’t read the synopsis, and I didn’t read a single word on any page; instead, I became intrigued by the cover illustration, opened the book to the first page, and knew I wasn’t leaving the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore without this treasure.

Title – How the Stars Came to Be

Written and illustrated by – Poonam Mistry

Published by – Tate Publishing -2019

Suitable for ages – absolutely everyone – children and adults

Topics/Theme –  Folk tale, how the stars came to be, father and daughter story

Opening – In a time many years ago, there was only the light from the Sun and the Moon. There once lived a Fisherman’s daughter who loved to feel the light on her skin. During the day she would dance and play, weaving in and out of the Sun’s rays.

Amazon Review HERE –  Have you ever wondered how the stars came to be in the sky?

The Fisherman’s Daughter loved to dance in the sunlight and bathe in the glow of the moon. But when the moon disappeared for a few nights each month, she worried about her father and how he would find his way home from the sea in the deep darkness. When the sun finds her sobbing one night, he takes one of his rays and shatters it onto the ground, creating the stars and giving the girl the task of putting them into the dark night sky. This beautifully illustrated story gives us a new folk tale, and a new way to look up at the night sky.

Learn more about Poonam Mistry HERE.

Sit back and watch this youtube video, filled with illustrations by Poonam Mistry HERE.

If you have an extra moment,  I’ve included 16 photographs from my vacation.

PARIS 2019 PHOTO ALBUM

2500

The famed Shakespeare and Company Bookstore

2516

Notre Dame

2431

tree-lined lane near the Pont Alexandre III Bridge

2409

Irresistible pastries

2223

View from the Arc de Triomphe

2097

Inside the Louvre

2019

Streets at Montmartre

2524

A Parisian sight

1998

Windows at Saint-Vincent-de-Paul

1983

Sacre’ Coeur Basilica

(21)

A decadent chocolate dessert

(20)

Pont Alexandre III Bridge

(19)

Tuileries Garden

(18)

Rue du Petite Pont

(16)

Me at the Eiffel Tower

(15)

An amazing Cappuccino

Au revoir until next Friday!