Category: Christmas

12 Days of Christmas Book Review

Celebrate the magic of Christmas time with this well-loved traditional poem, The Twelve Days of Christmas, beautifully illustrated by Laura Hawthorne.

About 12 Days of Christmas

Take a walk through each beautiful scene brimming with details that will remind you of the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas. Perfect to read with your true love.

This is the second title in the series, The Christmas Choir, which beautifully illustrates beloved Christmas carols. Don’t miss Silent Night, the first title in the series.  

Our Thoughts

12 Days of Christmas is a beautifully illustrated children’s book featuring the famous song. It had us singing and laughing as we prepare for the holiday season. We have read this book several times over the last two weeks (it is my personal favourite song) and each time we have found a way to sing it slightly different and be a little sillier each time. Finding moments of laughter and light with family, especially during a time that has been clouded with COVID, is so important for us right now.

The book also contains a history of the carol, something that I was never aware of and never thought to look into. I had no idea that the carol originated in the 1700s France! There is also an activity at the end of the book that you can do with your child, where you try to find all of the items/people that are mentioned in the song. The illustrations are stunning and bring to life the joy and happiness of Christmas.

This is a beautiful, Christmas treasure that families can read over and over again. It brings light and fun into the home as we prepare for the holiday season and all that comes with it. It also sparks great conversations about Christmas traditions, favourite songs, foods and gifts over the years. We learned so much about each other. This will be a book that you can bring out yearly and enjoy together.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Lara Hawthorne is an illustrator based in Bristol, UK. After graduating from Falmouth University in 2013 where she studied illustration, she has had work shortlisted for the Lowry Children’s Book Award and has written and illustrated Herberto, a picture book published in Portugal, Brazil, Slovenia, France and South Korea. Her other books include The King of Christmas, Carol Ann Duffy’s 2016 Christmas poem, published by Picador, and The Night Flower, published by Big Picture Press. As well as focusing on narrative work, Lara also sells a variety of prints, notebooks and cards. Through Betty & Dupree, her prints are distributed to shops throughout the UK and internationally.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review, all opinions expressed are my own.

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Ways to Say I Love You Book Review

A picture book for younger children celebrating all the ways that creatures on our planet say “I love you.” 

About Ways to Say I Love You

From snuggling garter snakes to big, cozy bear hugs, this book in verse shares how animals that we would expect, and some that we wouldn’t, express affection for each other. Each animal interaction is compared with a similar human one, in blended illustrations composed by the talented Alette Strattoff—showing that we are not so different from our animal neighbors.

Find out more about the animals in the back pages and discover how to say “I love you” in different languages.

Our Thoughts

Especially during this crazy time, it so important to let those in your life know that you love them and there are so many ways to show your love and appreciation. We are always trying to teach our children that we can do little actions each day to make the world a better place and to show our love to our friends (and to our mates as they get older!).

We loved how this book had on one page an example of how animals expressed their love and feelings for each other and on the opposite side was the similar human interaction (our personal favourite – the smelly path that deer’s leave and the baths that humans take). The writing is simple but full of impact and at times left us in giggles. The illustrations are just beautiful and really help bring home the message that animals and humans, we are all the same when it comes to love.

Ways to Say I Love You is a beautiful book for young children as we explore love, ways to express our feelings and how at the end of the day, we are all the same. This would make a beautiful holiday gift this season, especially as we find new ways to share our love and time with out families during COVID.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Marilyn Singer is a multi-award-winning children’s author who has written many books, spanning poetry, picture books, fiction, and non-fiction. Her awards include the 2015 NCTE Award for Excellence in poetry, the Cybil Award for Poetry 2011, and several Children’s Choice and Parents’ Choice Awards, among others. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Alette Straathof is an illustrator who lives and works in Paris, France. She graduated in January 2016 at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Alette tries to hide small details in every one of her illustrations for people to discover – see if you can find them all. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Snuggle Up and Cherish the Holiday Season with Raincoast Books

Raincoast Books

We have definitely had a few early blasts of winter weather as the holiday season quickly approaches. This is the perfect time to open up some holiday treasured books with your children and spend a little extra time reading each night. Or perhaps to even discover new family favourites leading up to the Christmas holidays?

Raincoast Books has a beautiful collection of books that will make great gifts leading up to the holidays or even as a special gift under the tree. Both my kids and their cousins, always receive at least one special book as a Christmas gift because I feel so strongly that these are something that they can treasure long after the holiday season is over.

Looking for three new books to add to your holiday reading routine? Look no further then these top three picks from Raincoast Books:

Christmas Is Coming! An Advent Book

Every day of December brings a new Christmas tradition in this keepsake Advent book. Each flap on the cover of the book reveals a clue to a festive activity that can be found inside the pages. It might be a recipe for a delicious homemade treat, instructions for a cozy craft, a game to play, a carol to sing, or a beautifully illustrated story to read with the whole family. This inviting twist on the traditional advent calendar is perfect for families who love to put their own spin on celebrating the holidays.

I fell in love with this special book the moment I laid my eyes on it. Advent is a very special time in our lives and sometimes we can forget what makes life so important; family and opening our homes and hearts for Christmas. There is more to Advent than just chocolate and presents!

I put this book under our Christmas tree and we waited patiently for December 1st to open it up. This was not the easiest task for any of us, as I really wanted to dive in and see what kind of activities were in the book but we also wanted it to be a special surprise that we uncovered day by day.

We had a snowstorm yesterday and decided that we would open the book after dinner. His first activity? Write a letter to Santa. The reading for December 1st was beautiful and my son was excited to write his letter (I couldn’t believe I had not done this yet with him!). We have decided as a family, that we would do each activity after dinner but before we wind down for bed. You can follow along on Instagram as we work our way through the book.

This is the perfect book for parents and grandparents that are looking for something different and meaningful during the Advent season.

You can purchase a copy of this book here.

Don’t Shake the Present!

Go on a festive and fun-filled adventure with Larry in this hilarious holiday edition of the USA Today bestselling series, Don’t Push the Button!

Larry (the lovable monster) has received a present, and he is desperate to know what is inside, but he needs your help to figure it out. But whatever you do. . . DON’T SHAKE THE PRESENT!

This is an adorable book perfect for young readers just before the holiday season. We have two kids that love to touch and shake their presents (and even sometimes peel away the wrapping at the side so that they can see inside!). We had so much fun reading this out loud and I definitely did not see the ending coming but it was perfect and gave us all a great chuckle.

The book itself is small, hard covered and interactive, making it a great read for young children that have a harder time sitting still at reading time. It also is a book that children can relate to and helps parents explain the importance of patience during the holiday season.

You can purchase a copy of this book here.

How to Hide a Lion at Christmas

Iris and her lion go everywhere together. But when Christmas comes and the family is going away, Mom says her lion must stay behind. After all, you can’t take a lion on a train! Luckily the lion has other ideas. He sets off on a festive, snowy adventure to find Iris – and almost bumps into Santa Claus!

This is a beautifully written and illustrated book about the friendship between Iris and her lion in the context of Christmas. Iris is visiting family for the holidays and her lion is just too big to go on the train (or even to fit in her suitcase!), not to mention he may just scare her family. Her Mom makes the lion stay home, but lion has other plans – he follows them on the train! The only problem, he sleeps through their stop! He must find his way back to Iris (which he does) but encounters a unique method of finding her using Santa Claus’ method of climbing up and down chimneys. Can you imagine a lion coming down the chimney?

This was a great book to read out loud to our kids. It has such a great flow and full of great age appropriate humour. We had a few great conversations of all the animals we wished we could have at home (a gorilla was one). The illustrations are beautiful and fit the story perfectly. This will make for a great read before bedtime as we gear up into the holiday season.

You can purchase a copy of this book here.

What is your favourite holiday book?

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned books in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Explore the Wonders of Crab Lake with the Beautiful Children’s Book Series

Marvel at nature’s miracles, spread joy wherever you can, experience earth’s infinite wonders. This is what led David Mulford to create the Crab Lake series. Explore the author’s world through Jeannie’s Crab Lake Christmas and Jeannie’s Crab Lake Winter Tales.

About Jeannie’s Crab Lake Christmas

All the animals in the forest are abuzz. Jeannie, the kindest and most beautiful lady they know, is coming to Crab Lake for Christmas! The animals love to watch Jeannie from a distance when she visits in the summer, but they have never had a chance to talk to her before now — for, as everyone knows, animals can only talk in the winter. This time, however, they can finally say a proper hello.

So come to Crab Lake for Christmas, and spend the evening with Jeannie and her forest friends: bear cub Pudgey and his family, kindly Mr. Woodchuck, distinguished Bellknap Beaver, and the deer, the wolves, the cardinals, and more! Beautiful illustrations by Christine Cathers Donohue bring them all to life in Jeannie’s Crab Lake Christmas, David Mulford’s charming tale of friendship, family and fun.

About Jeannie’s Crab Lake Winter Tales

In this second book, winter has come back to Crab Lake, Wisconsin. Reunite with Jeannie and her woodland friends as they catch up and share the joy of the season and the holidays. All your favourite characters are back to teach you that friendship and helping others is what truly leads to the greatest of life’s adventures.

Our Thoughts

These beautiful, sweet books featuring Jeannie and the wildlife of Crab Lake, will become a story that you can treasure up to and during the holiday season.

Jeannie is a special woman. She is kind, loving and thoughtful. Those around her can sense these strong values and kindness and love her very much for this. I am a firm believer that animals can sense good and bad people, and the animals in these stories love her so very much.

Both books take place at Crab Lake and I love how the author makes the location come to life (especially as someone who has never visited these areas). You feel like you are visiting Crab Lake and the surrounding area yourself. The author uses descriptive language that brings to life the lakes, hills and forest in this area, while the illustrations help to deliver that message. We become part of the festivities and excitement of the holidays (I can’t wait for the simple things like family gatherings, fireplaces, and hot buttered rum) that is so often described throughout the story.

The animals play a huge role in this story, as we learn that the animals can speak and be heard by humans but only in the winter! As someone who loves animals, I truly wish this would come true (I can only imagine what our dogs would tell us – ‘how dare you not let me sleep in your bed when you are not home’). We found ourselves giving certain characters their own accents (especially Mr. Woodchuck, Mr. Beaver and the bears) and it fit well into the story (I found myself naturally using a British accent at times when I was reading the story to my son).

The story in both books is on the longer side but would make for an excellent bedtime story with your child or after dinner reading in front of the Christmas tree. Jeannie’s Crab Lake Winter Tales is a bit longer but worth every minute. I loved the illustrations, they felt soft, warm and engaging. It fit the characters and tone of the story perfectly. The books are well written and remind you of all the important things in life – family, harmony, love and helping other captured in a manner that children of all ages will appreciate. It is both fun and serious, with such important messaging for young children today.

As a side note – I loved that David wrote these stories for his wife, Jeannie. It is so beautiful and touching, the love that he feels for her and the time they spent at Crab Lake is captured so well in these stories.

These books will make a great addition to your holiday reading list and you can purchase a copy of this book here.

About the Author

For David Mulford and his wife, Jeannie, Christmas would not be complete without their visits to the beautiful Wisconsin waters of Crab Lake. These magical journeys provide the inspiration for David’s whimsical tales. In addition to writing, David has a PhD from Oxford University, serves as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, and has enjoyed a long and notable career in international finance and diplomacy. For the last twenty-seven years, David’s Christmas gift to Jeannie, no matter where they are in the world, has been a story of Christmas at Crab Lake. When not traveling, David and Jeannie reside in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Practical Stocking Ideas for Children of All Ages

Practical Stocking Ideas for Children of All Ages

I was on Facebook the other day when a Meme popped up about Christmas and stockings. It was a child asking Mom for toothpaste in December but Mom said that will be part of your Christmas gift. I had to laugh because that is me.

The holiday season can be a very expensive time of the year if you let it. There are gifts, work parties, school events and gifts to buy for and the list can go on and on. The first few years into parenting, I would stress and want to make Christmas magical for my child. Which meant I would go overboard, spent too much and most of the stuff was never used. We had a great time don’t get me wrong but the money spent was way too much and we still had to buy so much in the new year.

I have learned over the years that practical gifts make the best gifts. Now half of the presents under the tree are clothes, shoes or soccer equipment. I want the gifts to be something that they can use all year round – if I am going to spend the money it has to be worth it.

The same holds true for a stocking. It can be easy to go to the Dollar Store and load up on a lot of items that your child may not use (and it isn’t cheap either there).

Instead I try to pack their stockings full of items that they can use. My top items to include in a stocking for children and adults are:

Toiletries – this includes their deodorants, gels, body wash, tooth brushes, tooth paste, lip balms and hand sanitizer for school. I love to buy the boxed sets from Shopper Drugs Mart every year (usually Axe or Dove) and use my points to get the most for my money.

Practical Stocking Ideas for Children of All Ages

Underwear and socks – we all need them and they fit in their stockings perfectly. My boys go through socks like crazy and the cost can really add up throughout the year. Adding this to their stockings is a win win for parents.

Practical Stocking Ideas for Children of All Ages

Chocolates – I cave here and buy them their favourite chocolate bars. Who doesn’t love to get a little bit of yummy chocolate here and there? I know I do!

Practical Stocking Ideas for Children of All Ages

Music and DVDs – everyone loves music and watching movies, this makes for a great stocking stuffer. Maybe you have a younger child who would love the sounds of Will’s Jams or an older child that really has to have the newest Taylor Swift. Or maybe a child who loves My Little Pony. The options are truly endless when it comes to music and DVDs, the bonus is that this is a gift that is great for the colder, winter months when your child may be stuck inside more.

Practical Stocking Ideas for Children of All Ages

However you organize your spending during the holiday season make sure you enjoy every moment and live in each moment.

How do you as a family navigate the holiday spending when it comes to stockings?

Wishing you and your family a very happy holiday season!

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