Tag Archives: Christmas book

Horrible Histories: The Big Fat Christmas Book by Terry Deary

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IMG_5904Horrible Histories: The Big Fat Christmas Book by Terry Deary and illustrated by Martin Brown, hardback, 159 pages, published by Scholastic Ltd. in 2014.

Come on a journey through the twelve days of Christmas Horrible Histories style!

This book is divided into sections for each of the twelve days of Christmas from the 25th of December through to the 5th of January. Each part is dedicated to a different aspect of Christmas, such as food, animals, royals, games and weather. It covers many eras in history, from the Stone Age through to more recent history. Each section also contains some information on something that happened in history on that particular day.

There is a lot to learn in this interesting and entertaining non-fiction book for primary school students. The Horrible Histories series makes learning history fun, and this Christmas book is particularly good. I had no idea that Christmas was such a popular time for bad things to happen in the past! There are be-headings, ghosts, wars, storms and other amazing historical events to read about. It is made more fun through the use of anecdotes, comics, plays and illustrations.

With Christmas coming up, now’s a great time to sit down and read a good Christmas book, and this one really is fun. It’s a must for any Horrible Histories fan!

The Adventures of The Bailey School Kids: Santa Claus Doesn’t Mop Floors by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones

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IMG_3287The Adventures of The Bailey School Kids: Santa Claus Doesn’t Mop Floors by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones and illustrated by John Steven Gurney, paperback chapter book, 71 pages, first published by Scholastic Inc. in 1991, this edition published in 2007.

After having to clean up another mess made by the third grade class at Bailey Elementary School, the school janitor quits. In his place, starts Mr Jolly, who looks rather like Santa Claus, and is always turning the heat down to chilly. Messes are no match for Mr Jolly who can have the school sparkling again in no time. And he’s been watching the 3rd grade gang and writing in his little notebook, as if he’s taking notes about the kids. Could he really be Santa?

Santa Claus Doesn’t Mop Floors is a chapter book containing short chapters and a shallow story-line, suitable for children in lower to middle primary school.

It is an easy read, but I greatly disliked the main gang of characters. They were rude, destructive and disrespectful, especially Eddie, who often bullied and coerced his fellow gang members into naughty behaviour. Spreading peanut butter and whipped cream through the school may seem funny to some, but it is still vandalism. I don’t condone these behaviours and I don’t want my children thinking that it is okay to play these sorts of “pranks”. Basically the kids were horrible, and fell well short of the decent role models I have come to expect from good kids books. Even if the writing and plot had been better, I still could not have stepped past the poor behaviour and lack of any meaningful consequences for the gang.

The main theme of the story seemed to be to restore Eddie’s Christmas spirit, through kindness and the presence of magic. However, the plot wasn’t deep enough to really examine the causes for his lack of belief in Christmas. It also didn’t explore why he thought the solution to his sadness and trouble was to be a jerk to everyone else. I would have preferred a bit more moralising.

I did think that I might have been placing too much of my adult (and rule abiding) self forwards whilst reading Santa Claus Doesn’t Mop Floors, so I sought the opinion of my second grader. She also disliked the children in the book, (she too is quite rule abiding and often complains about disruptive kids ruining for classroom learning experience). She thought it was average and not worthy of another read. For a child that devours books of all varieties, often re-reading books I think aren’t great, several times in close succession, I was surprised by her strong disappointment in this Christmas themed book. We will not be seeking any further books in this series, which appears to contain around fifty titles.

The Angel Tree by Daphne Benedis-Grab

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IMG_3011The Angel Tree by Daphne Benedis-Grab, paperback novel, 246 pages, published by Scholastic Press in 2014.

Pine River is a small town with a tight-knit community. For the past twenty-five years, the town has had an amazing Christmas tradition, the Angel Tree. Each December the tree arrives in the town square in the dead of night. People tie their most heartfelt wishes to the branches of the Angel Tree and other townsfolk and the big boss angel make those wishes come true. No one knows who erects the tree and co-ordinates the wishes every year, it has always been a mystery.

Four kids who each need something granted from the Angel Tree come together to uncover the secret and thank the person that has been bringing dreams to life in Pine River for so long. Max, whose house burnt down recently, Lucy, whose guide dog needs life saving medical treatment, Joe, who is lonely and isolated and missing his mum, and Cami, who loves her violin, but wants to make her grandmother proud even if it means not being herself. Together they unravel the mystery of the Angel Tree, and learn a lot about themselves and each other along the way.

The Angel Tree is a heart-warming holiday read suitable for primary school children and up. The mystery of the Angel Tree is interesting, and I liked following Max, Joe, Cami and Lucy along on their detective mission (or spy mission, as Max thought it should be). I tried to work out the clues along the way too. The story was well written, and the ending was not given away too soon.

I quite liked the characters, they seemed very real, with real worries and doubts, flaws and capabilities. Joe was written as the most hated student at school, and he read like he deserved this title at the start of the book, while Max was the class clown. As the story progressed, the reader learnt more about Max and Joe, gaining an understanding of their true selves, and the reasons that allowed these boys to be pigeon-holed into these roles. It felt so real. Cami and Lucy were similarly pigeon-holed as the musical and blind girls, for obvious reasons, but they are so much more than that. They both overcome their fears and doubts to track down the great benefactor of Pine River. They are strong and special girls, capable of so much. The four kids were the focus of the story, but the adult characters were also well-written, and easily pictured.

It was very nice to read a Christmas story that was about real giving and generosity. This story is a reminder to us all that Christmas in not just about marketable wares and consumer spending, but about people. People helping one another, coming together as friends and family, kindness and generosity of spirit.

The Angel Tree was a very enjoyable read, helping me to get on my holiday cheer!

 

Santa Koala by Colin Buchanan and Glen Singleton

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IMG_3007Santa Koala by Colin Buchanan and illustrated by Glen Singleton, paperback picture book, first published by Scholastic Australia in 2010, this edition published in 2014.

Santa Koala is a Christmas song set to the tune of Waltzing Matilda. While Santa sleeps by the billabong, Koala decides to help out by delivering all of the presents for him. Along with his Australian animal friends, Koala sets off to do Santa’s job, what could possibly go wrong?

I found Santa Koala to be an amusing book. I especially liked the ending, very funny! It really is best sung, so get out your awesomest singing voice and go for it!! My kids loved the singing, even though they were totally out of tune. They also asked me to sing it while they followed the pictures.

Santa Koala is a bit of Aussie Christmas fun best suited for younger children, though I think all ages could do with a bit of upbeat Christmas singing at this time of year!

 

The Twelve Cats of Christmas by Kevin Whitlark

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IMG_3004The Twelve Cats of Christmas by Kevin Whitlark, paperback picture book, first published by Scholastic Australia in 2010, this edition published in 2014.

The twelve days of Christmas, cat style. On each of the days of Christmas, my true cat sends me something kitty related, such as “eight felines fishing”.

My kids like this twist on the old Christmas song. They like singing the book, and laughing at the quirky pictures. The story is simple and repetitive, so it’s easy for the kids to learn all the words too. I like the “cats a’ clawing” best, except when my own cat wants to join in!

Enjoy some Christmas entertainment with this fun Christmas book for toddlers, preschoolers and lower primary school children.

What does Santa do When it’s not Christmas? by Heath McKenzie

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IMG_3000What does Santa do When it’s not Christmas? by Heath McKenzie, hardback picture book, published by Scholastic Australia in 2014.

When Christmas is over for another year, does Santa and all his helpers get a good rest?

This humourous rhyming book is an excellent read for Christmas, we just love it! It is my new favourite Christmas book to share with the kids. The story is very clever, and is a delight to share with children of all ages (though teenagers may feel “too old” for such a book!)

The illustrations are beautiful with so much detail, and plenty of funny things to spot, like the elves’ shopping  and the reindeer’s plans for greater efficiency. My absolute favourite page is where the gingerbread men are making themselves less delicious using hot mustard, fish paste and asparagus heads, it’s just ingenious. Every time we read this book we find more interesting things within the illustrations. There are also Christmas mice throughout the book to spot, which was a fun activity for us to share whilst reading.

For us Where does Santa go When it’s not Christmas? is the Christmas book to have this year. Read it and laugh with your children. It will inspire Christmas cheer and reinforce belief in Santa and all the Christmas magic that surrounds the North Pole.

 

The Great Reindeer Rebellion by Lisa Trumbauer and Jannie Ho

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IMG_2445The Great Reindeer Rebellion by Lisa Trumbauer and illustrated by Jannie Ho, hardback picture book, first published by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. in 2009, this edition published by Koala Books in 2010.

The reindeer have demands, so they decide to go on strike. They will not pull Santa’s sleigh until their conditions change. There’s only days until Christmas, and Santa needs someone to pull his sleigh, so he advertises for a sleigh team. He tries out cats and dogs, kangaroos and flamingos, will he find the right helpers in time to deliver all the presents?

This is probably our favourite Christmas book. It gets read all year round, with more frequent readings leading up to Christmas. My kids think it is hilarious. The illustrations are just as funny as the rhyming text, and I really enjoy reading this with my kids. I love the sleigh team trials, and the reasons that each animal isn’t up to par.

The Great Reindeer Rebellion is a fantastic Christmas book for preschool and primary school aged children. Be prepared to read this one again and again!