Book Advent Calendar 2017–Day 4: Miracle on 133rd Street

The first miracle I have to tell you about this book is that I got it at the local dollar store for $3.00!! (Head to Dollarama Canadians because that’s an amazing price for a fairly well written Christmas story–in hardcover no less!!) I do feel sorry for the author (Sonia Manzano) because I’m sure the fact that her book is selling at discount stores is not the most profitable. Manzano is also known as “Maria” on Sesame Street so hopefully she saved some of her Street cash.

Photo: J. Amy Amy

Advent 2017 Book 3 Photo: J. Amy Amy

Miracle on 133rd Street is a fun book about a Puerto Rican family living in a big city apartment building when they realize that their Christmas roast is too big for their oven. As José and his father carry the roast to the local pizzeria to use the large oven, the reader is introduced to a multicultural cast of neighbours and community members who have seemingly forgotten about the joys of Christmas. When they return from the pizzeria, the aroma of the cooked roast seems to carry some magic all its own as José and his neighbours experience a Christmas miracle.

 

I really like that this book takes place in an apartment building, in an urban setting. The story starts with José decorating “the tiniest Christmas tree ever” while his mother discovers that her oven is too small. Too often children’s books, like television and movies, have the characters living in unrealistic show homes with space to spare. It’s nice for children to have their experiences validated through literature.

A final word about the illustrations: Marjorie Priceman keeps the colours bright and the pictures are full of movement echoing the plot of the story.

Overall rating: VG with bonus points for the price! (suggested age range 6-9+)

 

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Holiday Book Advent Calendar 2017–Book 3: Little Tree

The third book is one of my absolute favourites and it’s truly a shame that you can no longer pick it up at your local bookshop. It’s called Little Tree, adapted from a poem of the same name by E.E. Cummings. Chris Raschka has written a truly lovely story version of Cummings’ poem about a Christmas tree’s journey to finding a home. Cummings’ poem is at the beginning of the book, followed by Raschka’s story interpretation. The illustrations, also by Raschka, are stunning. Soft watercolours and geometric shapes resemble modern stained glass and along with the main pictures, there are smaller vignettes of Santa’s activities that are fun for the older child to peruse.

Photo Credit: H. Julian

Photo Credit: H. Julian

I like to read this book on the day when we decorate our Christmas tree–it’s a nice way to introduce the activity. Although this story is simply written the lyricism within the writing and the intricate illustrations make this a book for all ages in my opinion. Basically, I can’t recommend this book highly enough, so if you are lucky enough to come across a copy at a garage sale or a second hand bookstore or in the library, grab it. You won’t be sorry.

Overall Rating: EX, for all ages.

Photo Credit: H. Julian

Photo Credit: H. Julian

 [Little Tree] first appeared in The Dial, Vol. LXVIII, No. 1 (Jan. 1920). It is now in the public domain.

Holiday Book Advent Calendar 2017–Book 2: Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star

It will come as no surprise to anyone still reading this blog that I’ve already fallen behind on my promise to myself to this year (after 4 years of doing this Book Advent Calendar) that I would post timely (daily in fact) reviews of the books that we’ve opened and enjoyed this Holiday season. So far I’m only a day behind so I’m going to try and recap the last two today and hopefully be back on track with one book tomorrow.

Photo Credit: J. Amy Amy.

 

Day 2 was Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star written and illustrated by Petr Horácek. It’s a fun story with a surprise ending about Suzy Goose and her quest to get a star to put on the farm’s Christmas tree. Little ones will enjoy the repetitive “Splat!” which happens each time Suzy falls. The mixed media illustrations are quite lovely as well.

Overall Rating: VG, especially for younger children. (3-7)

 

 

Holiday Book Advent Calendar 2017–Book 1: The Perfect Present

So, I’m not quite sure why I keep torturing myself by doing a Book Advent Calendar each year, except for the fact that I love reading and I want my kids to love reading. It’s hard work though, culling through my collection of Holiday Books and deciding which ones to include each year. Not quite as hard as trying to locate the Lego Advent Calendar that I bought at Costco in September, but still, it’s work.

The Perfect Present by Stella J. Jones (2016)

The Perfect Present by Stella J. Jones (2016)

At any rate, here’s a review of the book I chose to kick off the season: The Perfect Present written by Stella J. Jones and illustrated by Caroline Pedler. This book is kind of like a children’s version of O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi. Jones has changed the ending to a happier, more kid-friendly one but overall it’s not a bad choice with which to begin the holiday season.

Overall Rating: VG, especially for the 4-7 crowd.

 

Intro to Poetry, Day 8: Pleasure

What makes you happy?
Therapists like to
Ask me this question.
I don’t know, I answer.
I only seem to know
What makes me unhappy.

Do you know
What makes you happy?
I ask the therapists.
We’re here to talk about you,
They say as they ask me again:
What makes you happy?

So round and round we go
Until one of us (usually me)
Quits the game and finds a
A new partner willing to play.

The game begins again.

What makes you happy?
I don’t know.
I only know what makes me unhappy.
What makes you happy?

Happiness by Geralt www.pixabay.com

Happiness by Geralt
http://www.pixabay.com

Notes: Today’s theme was “Pleasure” and the challenge was to structure the poem using anaphora or epistrophe. The more I tried, the worse it got. While there is some repetition in my poem I’m not sure it would fall under either of those categories. I found the theme of “Pleasure” difficult to write about within the parameters of the challenge. I think I might have written a better poem had I not tried to take on the challenge, but this course is about learning to stretch my boundaries, so I can’t expect a great poem every day.

If you’d like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read,
please email me: judyamy74(at)gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74.

Intro to Poetry, Day 7: Flavour Part 2 (Guest Poet)

Found Poem by H. Julian
Source: Chickadee and Canadian Living Magazines

Notes: Today while I was working on my Found Poem, my eldest son took an interest and decided he’d like to give it a try too. I gave him a few pointers and he got to work. I asked him if they ever read or wrote poetry in school. He said no, the only poetry he had heard was in our house when I read it to him. This made me kind of sad. I think it’s important for young children to learn poetry. I know that teachers are overloaded with things they are expected to teach, but I really hope that the Arts are not sacrificed as a response to this pressure. In the meantime, I plan to have more poetry writing (and reading) sessions with my son this summer since we both enjoyed the experience.

If you’d like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read,
please email me: judyamy74(at)gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74.

Intro to Poetry, Day 7: Flavour

Found Poem, 07/22/2017 Source: Canadian Living Magazine

Found Poem, 07/22/2017 Source: Canadian Living Magazine

Notes: Today’s theme was “Flavour” and the challenge was to write a Found Poem, which is kind of like a collage with words. Found poetry is one of my favourite forms of poetry and I use it a lot in my research, but it’s been a while since I actually physically cut and pasted a poem onto paper. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

If you’d like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read,
please email me: judyamy74(at)gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74.