Tag Archives: santa

Frede and Santa by Leen Lefebre

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Frede and Santa by Leen Lefebre, chapter e-book, 70 pages, published in 2017.

Frede and his family live in a small village on the edge of a large forest. Unfortunately the summer crops did not thrive, and they have entered winter in dire need of more food. Frede convinces his older brothers to travel with him to visit the Christmas village and ask Santa for help. In order to reach Santa, the three boys must traverse the forest, where an Evil Elf King lurks, just waiting for victims to come his way.

This book was first published in Dutch under the title Frede en de Kerstman. I read the English translation, though I wish I read Dutch well enough to read Frede and Santa in its original form; a translation doesn’t always do the story justice. Some of the word choices and sentence structure isn’t what one would expect from native English writers, and I had to re-read a number of parts to follow what was happening. And even then there were still a few bits I didn’t get the full meaning of. Despite this, I was able to enjoy the story well enough.

Frede and Santa is a fairytale-esque, magical adventure. The story flowed at a steady pace, but I thought the ending felt rushed and slightly disappointing. I would have liked more time spent in the Christmas village, and more time getting to know the elves and Santa. I was also expecting a rescue mission that was more involved, but due to the brevity of the story, I guess there just wasn’t time.

The three brothers were well developed characters. Frede was a spirited little fellow with his family’s best interests in his heart. I rather liked Folke and Rhune too, though they were quite different to each other. I really liked the way that the boys were described based on the seasons. The other characters felt a bit shallow, but again, there just wasn’t enough time to get to know them very well.

I don’t think that the cover suits the story. After reading the book, I pictured Frede as the son of a poor farmer with simple, well-worn, home-made clothing, rather than the modern boy on the cover.

Overall, Frede and Santa was a sweet festive read about being brave and strong for your loved ones. While the story itself is suitable for all ages, the difficulties arising with the translation make this a story better shared between adults and children.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

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How Santa Changed by Karl Steam

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howsantachangedHow Santa Changed by Karl Steam, illustrated by Maksum Stasiuk, picture e-book, published in 2016.

Over the years Santa’s job became bigger and more demanding and things had to change. One man could hardly cope with making all those toys and delivering them. Whilst Santa was initially resistant to change, Mrs Claus knew he needed help. Find out how reindeer, elves and Santa’s chubby, jolly belly came about.

How Santa Changed is a cheery Christmas book, perfect for reading aloud in the lead up to Christmas. The story is told through rhythmical verse, which is fun, and I really liked the ending.

One of the best features of this book is its gorgeous artwork. Each illustration is highly detailed and lovely to regard. We spent a lot of time just looking at the pictures.

How Santa Changed is suitable for preschoolers and primary school children.

 

*I received this book from the author as a digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

An Aussie Night Before Christmas by Yvonne Morrison and Kilmeny Niland

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aussiexmasAn Aussie Night Before Christmas by Yvonne Morrison and Kilmeny Niland, hardback picture book, first published by Scholastic Australia in 2005.

Twas the Night Before Christmas gets a makeover, Aussie style!

An Aussie Night Before Christmas is quintessentially Australian. Everything from possums to water tanks, Pavlova and Shazza, to beer left out for Santa. There is so much nostalgia in this Aussie Christmas story! An old rusty ute pulled by kangaroos, with Santa at the wheel in his red stubby shorts and thongs. This is pretty much how I imagined he would be lying in bed on those hot summer nights of Christmas eves past. And we always left out beer for Santa to drink, because delivering presents all over is thirsty work! Now all he gets is a cup of milk that has probably soured in the heat…

The story follows the basics of the original, but spruced up with Aussie colour. The language is lyrical and quirky; great for sharing aloud and having a bit of a chuckle. The illustrations complement the text perfectly. They are festively bright, and clear yet detailed. Santa’s flowered shirt really is something!

I love this Australian version of an old favourite Christmas poem; it is perfect to share with my children on Christmas Eve. I hope this is a tradition that will continue for many years to come in our family.

An Aussie Night Before Christmas is suitable for all ages, but could be read alone by lower primary school children.

 

 

A Very Duplo Christmas to You!

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We have a big tub of Duplo that gets played with everyday. On Christmas Eve Big L and A were entertaining the boys with the Duplo, building cars and houses. I challenged them to construct a Christmas tree, and then left them to it. After a while A came and found me to show me what they had built.

One large Christmas tree complete with star on the top, a couple of presents and a Santa, all made from Duplo! Merry Christmas!

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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!

 

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.

 

Foam Christmas Spoons

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IMG_2860A found these foam spoon kits in Riot Art & Craft last week. She picked out two for her and two for L (who was not with us at the time). They were only a couple of dollars each, and they gave us an hour or so of Christmas crafting fun.

Each pack contained a foam spoon and all the bits to attach to the spoon to make a penguin, Santa or reindeer.

Sticking on the reindeer's head.

Sticking on the reindeer’s head.

The penguin packs had foam with a sticky backing so all we had to do was peel off the backing paper, and stick it where it had to go. The only problem with this was that the sticky area of the body pieces were much wider than the spoon, leaving the back of the body with nothing to stick to. The reindeer and Santa packs weren’t self-sticking, so we used craft glue to attach the foam pieces to the spoon.

Placing tiny bells on the reindeer's antlers.

Placing tiny bells on the reindeer’s antlers.

L and A very carefully followed the pictures to create their spoons. For some reason A’s penguin pack had two wings the same, instead of a left and right wing! She didn’t really care though, she just stuck the second wing on upside down and told me the penguin was waving.

Sticking on the penguin's beak.

Sticking on the penguin’s beak.

We have displayed these Christmas spoons up on the wall. They are very cute!

 

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Strawberry Santas

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I’ve been seeing photos of these little strawberry Santas popping up on my Facebook feed over the last couple of weeks, and I wanted to try it out.

I bought the largest strawberries that I could find because I thought it would be easier to use for this task. For the filling, I made basic white buttercream, but it would have worked well with fresh cream too, or maybe even creme fraiche or cream cheese.

The cut strawberry.

The cut strawberry.

The kids had a couple of strawberries each. L cut her own strawberries up, but I helped A with hers. We cut off the top to give it a flat base when we turned the strawberry upside down for the body. We cut off the point of the strawberry to make the Santa hat. The kids had a good time spooning buttercream onto the cut top of the strawberry to make the head. I think they ate quite a lot of the buttercream along the way too!

Adding buttercream.

Adding buttercream.

Both of the kids had trouble dabbing a small bit of buttercream onto the top of the Santa hat for the pom pom. The first couple had very large pom poms! They wiped the buttercream off these ones and ate it, before trying again.

Each strawberry Santa got two little sugar cachous as eyes and they were done. These were easy to make and didn’t take too long. The hardest part for the kids was waiting until after dinner to eat them!

Strawberry Santa

Strawberry Santa

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!

Foam Santa

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While A was painting her Christmas wreath I decided to use a foam cone and foam ball to make a Santa Claus figure.

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I wanted to use the cone for the body, so I painted it red. I later added a black belt with silver buckle about midway up the cone. For the head, I used the foam ball, first painting it white. His hat was made from a red felt triangle, and the fluffy edge and pom pom on top are both made from cotton balls, as is the beard. Once all that was dry, I started to add facial features, but I didn’t get any further than placing two blue dots for eyes. I found I really liked the way it looked without a nose or mouth.

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Attaching the head to the body was a bit of a challenge, I tried using a long pin inserted into the apex of the cone, and the bottom of the ball, but it wasn’t strong enough. I fiddled with this for ages, using glue and pins, but still the head fell off. I really didn’t want a spontaneously decapitating Santa, so I used plenty of craft glue and attached a pop-stick as a support rod from the body to the head at the back. I had it lined up so the head was in a good position, and I left it to dry, which took ages, but it worked.

With the head finally attached, I cut two red pipe cleaners in half, and used one piece for each limb. I just stuck the sharp point of the pipe cleaner straight into the foam, and then bent them to give my Santa knees and elbows. I thought my Santa was perfect, but Big L said it looked like something out of Tim Burton’s The Night Before Christmas, anyway, I still like it! And the kids liked him too. He sat up on top of our TV throughout the Christmas period, watching to make sure we were all being good 🙂

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