“It’s Christmas, David!” by David Shannon

The closer it is to Christmas, the more excited children become. And the more impatient. They suddenly start turning the house upside down, frantically searching  for presents, as if they forgot that the packages are still at Santa’s magic workshop. They can’t keep away from the elaborately decorated Christmas tree and want to play with the most breakable ornaments. And  instead of helping baking the cookies, they just want to lick the icing off. And what do we do? We still, half-heartedly, try to bring them back to order with a luke-warm “Santa is watching you!” But do they really care anymore? Somehow, they know that ALL good boys and girls turn into naughty ones just before Christmas, so Santa will have to be understanding. Look at David. His parents had a lot of telling off to do in preparation of the holidays.

From “No peeking!” to “No snitching!”,  from lessons of patience while waiting for a picture with Santa, to rushing him through his super long and most peculiar wish list. There were little threats of a lump of coal instead of gifts, and no, he  could not open his presents early. But one way or another, on December 25th, “It’s Christmas, David!”

Merry Christmas Everyone! Don’t be hard on your little Davids during those last moments of getting ready for a big celebration.  It’s Christmas after all!

And it’s another colorful and humorous delight by David Shannon.

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“Drummer Boy” by Loren Long

It all started with the three Magi and their symbolic gifts to the baby Jesus. No wonder this noble deed acted as a powerful inspiration to turn Christmas into a magical season of giving and givers. Yet, over time, something got lost in translation. Somehow, spreading joy and peace transformed into the shopping frenzy that only grows bigger year by year. Why instead of extending our simplest gesture of kindness to those who need it, we waste our time, energy and money on finding a super original gift to our family members and friends, who already have it all anyways? A hundredth tie, an extravagant piece of art or a convenient gift card.  Seriously, do you really think that a new Honda can give you happiness and a new smart phone is that perfect gift this season? Last year I perplexed my very gift-oriented mother-in-law, by telling her that I didn’t really need anything for Christmas. This year, I committed another faux pas by saying that our son has more toys than he needs, can enjoy and respect.  Christmas is a season of giving, indeed, but how to get back to the essence of generosity during this joyous holiday? In other words, what is there to give this Christmas?

 A little drummer boy decided to give himself.  He was received by a  little boy who got a lot of joy from his little present. Unfortunately, due to a very unfortunate incident, the drummer boy ended up in the garbage. From there he moved to  a trash can and the city damp site. He was attacked  by an owl,  deserted on the top of the bell tower… Until he got to a graveyard, where he was found by the very same boy who got him in the first place. Despite the drummer boy’s terrifying journey, he never lost his spirit. He just kept drumming.

Generosity is not about buying gifts for the sake of buying gifts. It is about giving. Giving ourselves? We can give a lot because we have a lot. Out talents, skills, time, ideas, sharing a meal…  It is all in us. So instead of another trip to the crowded shopping center, let’s just think about all the great things we have to give and let’s enjoy giving.

“Drummer Boy” by Loren Long is a wonderful story for this Christmas. Captivating story telling and engaging pictures.

“Dream Snow” by Eric Carle

 

Apparently, out of many branded and non-branded sounds, the most recognizable one in the US is a baby giggle. Intel processor comes as number two, you might be interested to know. Imagine that the same survey was carried out regarding the most recognizable person. I bet the lucky winner would be no one else than Santa. I would even say, that not only would he be the most recognizable but also with the most look-alikes. Just try it out. Put on a red hat, throw a sack on your shoulders and ask people (especially the little ones) who do they think you are. Santa, of course!

 

This is what happened in today’s story  to a certain farmer. According to my son, he looked just like Santa. My son’s assumption gave me an idea. Parents often hesitate whether they should promote the imaginary Santa figure to their children or not. Kids so easily fall for the magical Santa, Rudolf and the whole elf crew. Parents love to see their children light up at the very mentioning of this jolly fellow. Besides, Santa comes in handy in more practical ways. Santa is watching you… You’d better behave… But are the above perks worth the later disappointment when children eventually find out that there isn’t any Santa? Well, the tale of Santa doesn’t need to end with disillusion. If the farmer in the story can resemble Santa, he can also be Santa. Anybody can be  Santa for somebody, the same way the Farmer was for his animals.

 

 

The Farmer had five animals: One, Two, Three, Four and Five.  They lived in a barn, next to which there was a tree, cleverly called Tree. One night, around Christmas, the Farmer dreamed about snow, covering him and the animals with a white blanket. And sure enough it did snow. One last thing the Farmer needed to do, was to decorate the Tree and bring the presents…

A very simple story, as often with Carle. But so magical! The minimalistic text and most enchanting graphics, with little playful guess-who-is-there-gimmicks, bring out the spirit of Christmas to the maximum. A wonderful story for a cozy, December evening. If the snow shimmers outside, you are all set. If not, you aways have dream snow…

 

 

 

 

“Scaredy Squirrel prepares for Christmas” by Mélanie Watt

 

Unless you are a super spontaneous type, you know that the key to a successful Christmas is in the preparation. Some of us start preparing for the holidays months in advance, others need just a few days, but most of us do some kind of planning. From baking cookies and making Christmas ornaments, to shopping and gift wrapping, it can be so much fun. But it can also become overwhelming and stressful. If you fall in  the latter category, you should definitely revisit your planning. Preparing for Christmas shouldn’t mean giving in to the social pressure and becoming a victim of creative advertising. Preparing for Christmas should make you feel good, not frustrated. Actually, if you think about it, waiting for Christmas should be as exciting as the very holiday, if not more.

 

Now, if you need some inspiration regarding preparing for Christmas, my favorite critter, Scaredy has written a complete guidebook on the topic. You can find it especially useful if  you share Scaredy’s germophobia, concerns with safety, and your imagination is just as wild. From the guidebook, you can learn about the 12 things to do before Christmas , like finger stretching in preparation for holiday crafts, cleaning ears to listen for sugarplum fairies or running on treadmill to keep up with the holiday rush. ( Who would know?) Among other ‘practical’ things, the companion provides pros and cons of the holiday sweets. (For example, the candy cane is portable, but can shatter into million pieces.) The chapter I found very helpful was about shopping for difficult individuals and instructions for safe gift wrapping. My son, on the other hand,  learned a lot about safe crafts. And last but not least, if your children wonder what Santa or Rudolf look like, Scaredy explains it in very clear pictures. To sum up, the Scaredy’s guidebook to Christmas is full of ‘indispensable’ tips and hints that will turn this ‘hazardous’ holiday into a safe celebration. 

As always with the Scaredy Squirrel series, laughs are guaranteed from cover to cover. Unlike other Scaredy stories, though,  it is a chapter book with lots of text. As a result,  a preschooler might find it too boring and difficult, but a kindergartener should not only handle it well, but have a blast with it.

 

 

Books for the Holidays

 

My son has already started the Holiday countdown with his Advent chocolates, more and more stores and houses dazzle with Christmas lights and decorations and my mother-in-law has probably already wrapped most of her gifts… It is high time to touch upon the upcoming holidays on my pages. I have some books to recommend  and some reflections to share. But before I tell you about what we are reading these days in our house, let me mention a few great titles from my previous posts. Your children (and yourselves) might appreciate the following stories:

 

 

173. “Llama Llama Holiday Drama” by Anna Dewdney

 

174. “The Sweet Smell of Christmas” by Patricia Scarry

 

185. “If You Take a Mouse to the Movies” by Laura Numeroff

 

204. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” by Dr. Seuss

Enjoy reading! There is more of the holiday spirit in these books than in the overcrowded shopping centers.