Holiday Book Countdown – Here Comes Santa Cat

Counting down to Christmas with a new holiday book each day!

here comes santa cat Here Comes Santa Cat by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda

I just got this book Tuesday, and it’s already a favorite! The text and the illustrations of Cat (who communicates by holding up signs) work together perfectly.  I don’t know when I’ve ever seen a more expressive cat in a picture book — Rueda just nails it on every page!  (I know, I’m gushing again.)

In this sequel to Here Comes the Easter Cat, Cat is worried that he’s been too naughty to get a present from Santa.

Spread from HERE COMES SANTA CAT.

Spread from HERE COMES SANTA CAT.

After being convinced that dressing as Santa and giving himself a gift is not the solution, Cat tries a few last-minute efforts at being nice.  Unfortunately, gift-giving doesn’t come naturally to Cat, and it isn’t until Santa himself steps in that Cat discovers the true meaning of the season.

There aren’t a lot of activities for this book floating around on the internet yet, but two ideas that come to mind are:

  • having children make their own pie charts to show where they stand on the “naughty or nice” issue
  • using the book as a basis for a Reader’s Theater activity, with the kids making the signs that Cat uses in the story

For Twitter users, take note of this tweet from Penguin publishers:

 

Enjoy the book trailer!

 

Print Friendly

Holiday Book Countdown – The 12 Days of Christmas

Counting down to Christmas with a new holiday book each day!

12 days of christmas The 12 Days of Christmas by Jane Cabrera

Another version of the popular Christmas carol, this time substituting animals, elves, stars, and snowmen for the traditional gifts.  Not only are the new lyrics more meaningful to children (who I’m sure would much rather receive cats and penguins than French hens and drummers), but the illustrations are lively and cheerful enough to keep readers poring over the pages.

Spread from THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS.

Spread from THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS.

The book ends with a bang (a ride in Santa’s sleigh!), and includes sheet music.

If you like this book, you’re sure to enjoy Jane Cabrera’s other illustrated song books.

You’ll also want to visit her blog to see more of her original art!

 

Print Friendly

Holiday Book Countdown – Turkey Claus

Counting down to Christmas with a new holiday book each day!

turkey claus Turkey Claus by Wendy Silvano, illustrated by Lee Harper

In this sequel to Turkey Trouble by the same duo, Turkey once again finds himself in trouble at holiday time.  He has safely avoided becoming Thanksgiving dinner, but now the farmer and his wife are deciding on their Christmas menu….

The only way for Turkey to avoid the oven is to deliver a Christmas wish to Santa at the North Pole, but when an overly-officious elf refuses to allow him to bother Santa,he has to come up with a disguise.  Or two.  Or Five.

The only extras I could find online for this book were paid extension activities at Teachers Pay Teachers.  If you know of anything free, please leave a comment and share it!

 

 

Print Friendly

Holiday Book Countdown – I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel

Counting down to Christmas with a new holiday book each day!

old lady dreidel I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel by Caryn Yacowitz, illustrated by David Slonim

We are all familiar with the original “old lady” rhyme (There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly), and we are all familiar with at least one spin-off (There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed…Some Snow!, Some Leaves!, A Pie, A Bell!, etc) but this newest twist takes the concept to a whole new level!

The author kept the same progressive format while incorporating some traditional symbols of Hanukkah into the rhyme, and as a bonus the illustrator gives us a mini art history lesson on every page!

"I know an old lady who swallowed a dreidel, A Chaunukah dreidel she thought was a bagel..."

“I know an old lady who swallowed a dreidel, A Chaunukah dreidel she thought was a bagel…”

The parodies of famous artwork makes this a book that EVERYONE can enjoy, even non-Jewish readers who know nothing about Hanukkah customs.

Watch this book trailer for more details:

Visit David Slonim’s site to learn more about the art.

Make your own dreidel with the template on this Scholastic Story Corner worksheet

Then sing the dreidel song with the guys from The Learning Station:

 

 

Print Friendly

Holiday Book Countdown – An Otis Christmas

Counting down to Christmas with a new holiday book each day!

otis christmas An Otis Christmas by Loren Long

Long offers something for machine-lovers and something for horse-lovers in this seasonal offering as Otis helps provide a miracle for the farmer and his pregnant mare.

An_Otis_Christmas illustration

The book begins with the usual holiday festivities on the farm.  ”On Christmas Eve, the farmer came to the barn and fed the animals their traditional Christmas meal of bran mash with chopped apples and brown sugar. Otis delighted in watching them dig in around the trough. He knew how much they loved the special treat.”  The farmer has a gift for Otis, too; one he wears proudly.  Little does anyone realize how important that gift will become as problems develop when the horse goes into labor, and the farm truck sent to fetch the vet gets stuck in the snow.

Visit Loren Long’s Otis page for a video introducing Otis.

And visit the Otis Site for an online preview of the book.

 

Print Friendly

Holiday Book Countdown – Santa Claus The World’s Number One Toy Expert

  Counting down to Christmas with a new holiday book each day!

Santa Claus Toy Expert Santa Claus the World’s Number One Toy Expert by Marla Frazee

Can I just gush for a moment about how much I enjoy Marla Frazee’s artwork?  From her delightful romp A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever (my personal favorite) to the charming All the World (written by Liz Garton Scanlon) to the triumphant Walk On!: A Guide for Babies of All Ages to her new wordless book The Farmer and the Clown to her spunky drawings for Sara Pennypacker’s Clementine books, I’m just a HUGE fan of her illustrations!

Okay, now that I have that out of my system, I can talk about this book.

Have you ever thought about how much preparation goes into choosing and wrapping toys for ALL the good boys and girls in the world?  Frazee takes us behind the scenes as Santa prepares throughout the year for the Big Day by meeting children, testing toys, and selecting the perfect gifts for everyone on his list.  (It involves lots of sticky notes and cocoa!  You can see both in the excerpt below.)  She even includes one final surprise on the back cover — don’t miss it!

Page from SANTA CLAUS THE WORLD'S NUMBER ONE TOY EXPERT.

Page from SANTA CLAUS THE WORLD’S NUMBER ONE TOY EXPERT.

Learn more by reading this interview with Marla Frazee and by watching this video:

Harcourt Books has provided some stickers and coloring sheets for the book.

Download a free I’M A TOY EXPERT TOO! writing worksheet based on the book.

 

Print Friendly

Holiday Book Countdown – Stick Man

 Counting down to Christmas with a new holiday book each day!

stick man Stick Man by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

This European import is lively, imaginative, and suspenseful — which is just what I’ve come to expect from this author-illustrator duo!  Stick Man is out for a jog, minding his own business, when suddenly he’s grabbed by a dog who’s eager for a game of fetch!  It’s one hardship after another as Stick Man struggles over the course of nearly a year (yes, it’s a mini science lesson on the changing seasons!) to return to his Stick Lady Love and their three stick children.

A spread from STICK MAN.

A spread from STICK MAN.

“Beware of the swan!” “Beware of the sand!” “Beware of the snow!” And most chilling of all, “Beware of the fire!”  Who can save Stick Man?  Why, Stuck Man, of course!

Enjoy the illustrator reading the book aloud:

There are many fun extras for this story, including a slew of guided reading worksheets, teaching ideas, and a Stick Man Song inspired by the book.

gruffalo's child  p.s. My introduction to this talented team was by way of The Gruffalo and its sequel The Gruffalo’s Child.  I use these two books and the accompanying Gruffalo website faithfully every year in my library program, and I highly recommend them as read-alouds!

 

Print Friendly

Holiday Book Countdown – The Snowflake Sisters

Counting down to Christmas with a new holiday book each day!

snowflake sisters The Snowflake Sisters by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Lisa Desimini

These two snowflake sisters don’t look exactly alike (no two snowflakes do, right?) but they both share an adventurous spirit!  In this rhyming story by former Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, we follow the sisters as they swirl and spin through the sky, enjoying the sights and sounds of winter.

Whether it’s watching the children outside at play, traveling with Santa as he rides on his sleigh, or romping with a snowman on a cold frosty day (okay, that was MY attempt at a rhyming review!) Desimini’s collage artwork gives a cozy feeling to even the snowiest scenes.

Lewis provides additional resources for the book at his Poetry Toolbox blog.

Today’s post is actually a two-fer, because I can’t talk about A snowflake book without mentioning THE snowflake book:

snowflake bentley Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Mary Azarian

This Caldecott Award-winner is not in any way a Christmas story, but this poignant look at Wilson Bentley, a man who felt his life’s purpose was fulfilled when he was able to share his miraculously detailed photos of snowflakes with the world, makes a nice companion book to The Snowflake Sisters.

Listen as Wilson Bentley expresses his feelings about snowflakes:

 

Print Friendly

Holiday Book Countdown – The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School

 Counting down to Christmas with a new holiday book each day!

gingerbread man loose in the school The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray, illustrated by Mike Lowery

This isn’t the first gingerbread book in the countdown and it won’t be the last because I LOVE variations on the gingerbread man theme, and this one doesn’t disappoint!  Murray has mixed together a variety of elements (rhyming text, comic book format, fractured folktale genre, repetition, map skills, word choice, first person narration, AND a moral — sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it?) and concocted a delicious new twist on a familiar fun story.

Inside spread from THE GINGERBREAD MAN LOOSE IN THE SCHOOL.

Inside spread from THE GINGERBREAD MAN LOOSE IN THE SCHOOL.

When the students who baked him leave him behind at recess time, this little gingerbread man sets off on a desperate dash through the school to find them.  He encounters the P.E. teacher, the nurse, the art teacher, and the principal before finally being returned to his classroom where he learns they’ve been putting up “Missing” posters in an attempt to locate him themselves.

You know you’re going to want to enjoy some follow-up activities after sharing the book; luckily Laura Murray anticipated that and has provided a page with links to ideas, printables, lesson plans, and a teacher’s guide.  (She used to be an elementary school teacher.)

gingerbread man doll And you know you’re going to want your own jaunty little stuffed Gingerbread Man Doll; luckily Merry Makers anticipated that and stitched one up for you!

gingerbread man loose on the fire truck  And you know you’re going to want a sequel; luckily Laura Murray was way ahead of you on that one and has already written The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Fire Truck.

 

Print Friendly

Holiday Book Countdown – How Santa Got His Job

 Counting down to Christmas with a new holiday book each day!

how santa got his job How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by S.D. Schindler

An imaginative look at how Santa’s skills and life experiences work together to create the perfect man for the North Pole job, this book makes a great read-aloud for all ages.

Spread from HOW SANTA GOT HIS JOB.

Spread from HOW SANTA GOT HIS JOB.

It’s a great story to reinforce the idea that you never know what may prove useful later in life, and to spark a discussion about how everyone has different strengths and abilities that make them good at different things.

You’ll want to plan some follow-up activities after sharing this story; here are some ideas to get you started:

 

 

 

Print Friendly