Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday Gift Ideas from Chronicle Books (Review)

Chronicle Books 

The holidays don't have to be just about filling the Christmas tree with toys for your children.  Instead, why not share the love of reading with them, by picking up a few new books to add to their book collections.  Or, if they don't have a book collection, now is a great time to start one, with a resolution to continue this tradition and read more with your children.

I started the girls' book collections before they were born, and now they have over 2 full bookcases full of books that they can enjoy now by having me read them to them, as well as use them as beginner books as they begin learning how to read.  In our house we make a point to buy everyone on our list at least 1-2 books each Christmas.  Everyone loves this traditional and usually ends up swapping books back and forth over the winter months and into the new year.  With so many books being published on a daily basis, it is hard to keep up them.  But, I have had the opportunity to review the following recent releases from Chronicle Books and know they would make for great gifts this holiday season:


MoMA Color Puzzles
8 x 8 in; 10 pp;
full-color images throughout, with 4 reversible jigsaw puzzles
Published in October, 2012
ISBN 9780811876896
ISBN10 0811876896

"These four surprising jigsaw puzzles feature refreshingly original (and reversible!) designs that will dazzle the eye and provide fascinating color play for children and adults alike in this clever book. Each puzzle is securely inset in its page, making them easy to store or take on the go!

WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD Small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

Katsumi Komagata is an award-winning artist and graphic designer. He regularly holds exhibitions, talks, and workshops for children in many countries, particularly Japan and France. He lives in Tokyo.

Situated in the heart of Manhattan, attracts over two and a half million visitors a year to its galleries, exhibitions, and education programs. MoMA provides the public access to the world's finest collection of modern and contemporary art and holds more than 200,000 works including paintings, sculpture, drawings, photography, film, media, and design objects. Visit for more information.

Click here for the MoMA Kids mini site!

My Thoughts:

This puzzle book is great for both parents and children to enjoy doing together.  And, the puzzle pieces fit snuggly in the inserts, making them great for grab and go fun.  When we recently had my nephew over to visit and were making rounds to visit the relatives, he kept himself busy during the long car ride, by trying to solve this fun and challenging color puzzles.And, when he was done solving one puzzle, he could flip the pieces over to try his hand with the puzzle on the reverse side.  

When he was not solving these color puzzles designed by artist, Katsumi Komagata, I found myself trying them out.  What a great way to unwind, or to distract your mind from other things.  This book would make for a great stocking for both children and adults, as well as for those hard to shop for people on your list.


Every Little Thing 
Published in August, 2012
ISBN 9781452106977
ISBN10 1452106975 

"Bob Marley’s songs are known the world over for their powerful message of love, peace, and harmony. Now a whole new generation can discover one of his most joyous songs in this reassuring picture book adaptation written by his daughter Cedella and exuberantly illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. This upbeat story reminds children that the sun will always come out after the rain and mistakes are easily forgiven with a hug. Every family will relate to this universal story of one boy who won’t let anything get him down, as long as he has the help of three very special little birds. Including all the lyrics of the original song plus new verses, this cheerful book will bring a smile to faces of all ages—because every little thing’s gonna be all right!" 
Bob Marley, a Jamaican singer-songwriter, remains the most widely known performer of reggae music. Time magazine chose Exodus, which included “Three Little Birds,” as the greatest album of the 20th century.

Cedella Marley is the author of One Love and performs with the Melody Makers internationally. She lives in Miami, Florida, and has three children.

Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s books include One Love, Let Freedom Sing, and Don’t Let Auntie Mable Bless the Table. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

My Thoughts:

I found listening to Bob Marley music so relaxing during my pregnancies, and now use it as a way to get the girls moving and grooving during our living room dance offs. :-) When we are not dancing and acting crazy, we love to snuggle on the couch and read a good book.  So, when I heard about this recent release, I had to get my hands on a copy and share with the girls (and to enjoy myself).  Previously, I had read and reviewed Bob Marley's "One World" book, and continue to share this with my daughters.  

If you love Bob Marley music, or like when popular songs are turned into stories, then you will love "Every Little Thing," which shares powerful message of love, peace, and harmony, which is perfect for the upcoming holiday season.

Boo 2013 Wall Calendar
12 x 12 in; FSC-certified paper, full-color illustrations pp;
Published in July, 2012
ISBN 9781452108834
ISBN10 1452108838 

"This irresistibly cute calendar features fabulous shots of Boo, the little dog who has become an international online phenomenon—with nearly two million Facebook fans—and growing!"

Click here to check out Boo's very own website!

My Thoughts:

What more can I say about Boo, besides that he is so gosh darn cute.  Being dog lovers in our house, my husband and I picked up Boo plush dogs from Gund to give the girls a few months back.  And, every night when they go to sleep, they both cuddle up next to their furry friend. :-)  I still can't get over how perfect this dog is -- from his cute button nose to his nicely groomed haircut.  If you love cute dogs, especially Boo, then you will love this new 2013 calendar.  I can't wait to put the calendar up in my office and sneak peeks at Boo daily. :-)

Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth
Buy now for only $16.99.
10 x 9 5/8 in; Guided Reading Level: J
Published in September, 2012
ISBN 9781452103624
ISBN10 1452103623  


"The bold, bright colors of India leap right off the page in this fresh and funny picture book adaptation of how Ganesha came to write the epic poem of Hindu literature, the Mahabharata. Ganesha is just like any other kid, except that he has the head of an elephant and rides around on a magical mouse. And he loves sweets, especially the traditional dessert laddoo. But when Ganesha insists on biting into a super jumbo jawbreaker laddoo, his tusk breaks off! Ganesha is terribly upset, but with the help of the wise poet Vyasa, he learns that what seems broken can actually be quite useful after all. With vibrant, graphic illustrations, expressive characters, and offbeat humor, this is a wonderfully inventive twist on a classic tale." 
Sanjay Patel is an animator and storyboard artist for Pixar Animation Studios. His modern interpretations of Hindu epics have been exhibited at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum. He lives in Oakland, California.

Emily Haynes is an editor by day and a children’s writer by night. She lives in Oakland, California.

Click here for an activity kit!

My Thoughts:

You don't have to be Indian or understand Hindu to enjoy this children's book about how the  Ganesha came to write the epic poem of Hindu literature, the Mahabharata.  Young children will get a kick out of Ganesha, who is a tad overweight, due in part for his love of sweets. Even though he is large in size, he rides around on a small mouse, who also enjoys snacking with Ganesha.  The main story about writing the epic Hindu poem when Ganesha bites into a jawbreaker and breaks his tusk.  Hoping to put his tusk back together, he learns that a person's imperfections are what make them special.  And, with his broken tusk, he is able to write out the Mahabharata that is recited to him by the wise poet Vyasa.  

When young children and parents are giggling about Ganesha's love for sweets, they will enjoy the bold and colorful Indian illustrations that fill the pages of this children's book.  On occasion, my daughter, Savannah, will pull this book from the bookcase, just to admire these beautiful illustrations.  I am so glad I had a chance to read this book, and love having it in our book collection to treasure for years to come.

Creative Creatures 
 Buy now for only $16.95.

Box with removable lid: 7-1/2 x 9-1/2 x 1-1/2 in; 10 b/w punch-out cards: 7 x 9 in; 10 full-color envelopes; shrink-wrapped
Published in September, 2012
ISBN 9781452109961
ISBN10 1452109966

"Create a colorful menagerie with this collection of ten punch-out animal sculptures—no scissors or glue needed. Accompanied by mail-ready envelopes, these imaginative creatures are sure to please as greeting cards, crafting activities, kids’ party favors, décor, and more!"

WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD Small parts. Not for children under 3 years.
Junzo Terada has illustrated and designed a variety of products, including children’s books, stationery, textiles, toys, album covers, and more. He lives in Osaka, Japan.

 My Thoughts:

In addition to photo greeting cards this year, each envelope with filled with a fun creature that Savannah (along with the help of her Daddy) make, thanks to this fun kit for kids.  I love that you don't need scissors or glue to make these unique animals.  With 10 creatures to make, this activity kit will keep young children busy on those rainy or upcoming snow days.  Savannah had a blast spending time with Daddy, as they made and pretended to animate their creatures.  And, all she needed was crayons and markers.  So, cleanup was a breeze.

This kit would make for a great gift under the tree for little ones.

Buy now for only $16.99.

11 x 9 in; 40 pages, full-color illustrations throughout pp;
Guided Reading Level: K
Published in May, 2012
ISBN 9781452110226
ISBN10 1452110220

"What do you get when you combine a word and a number? A wumber! Paying tribute to William Steig’s CDB!, best-selling book, cre8ors Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld have wri10 and illustr8ed this s2pendous book that is 1derful 4 readers in kindergar10 and up. If we’ve confused you, just take a look at the book—4tun8ly it has helpful pictures. We are sure you will get it ins10tly! "
Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a best-selling author, blogger, and filmmaker. She lives in Chicago. Say hello to her at

Tom Lichtenheld is also a best-selling author and illustrator, and he also lives in the Chicago area. You can see all of Tom’s books and more at
Click here for an activity kit!

Click here for a teachers guide!

My Thoughts:

I ended up sharing this book with my nephew who is 8 and he got a kick out of how the words were made up of numbers.  Even though it looked like a jibbled up sentence, he was able to read it with ease.  I told him he had magical powers that made him able to decipher these complex sentences.  :-)  Now, whenever he comes to visit, he asks to read this book, and loves showing off his super powers to me and his cousins. 

If you are looking for a fun work that will get young readers excited about books, then this book is definitely worth checking out.

Buy now for only $9.99.
11 x 8-1/4 in; 20 pp;
full-color illustrations throughout
Published in September, 2012
ISBN 9781452107479
ISBN10 1452107475

"In this new series of concept-based, shaped dinosaur board books, little ones will learn dinosaur names for every letter of the alphabet, identify bold shapes, practice counting skills, and discover the bright colors in the dinosaur world. Both kid-friendly and educational, these board books make reading and playtime fun for the whole family!"
Megan E. Bryant is a former children’s book editor who has written more than 100 storybooks, chapter books, easy readers, board books, and novelty books. She lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Luciana Navarro Powell has been a professional illustrator for fourteen years. Originally from Brazil, she now lives in San Diego, California.

My Thoughts: 

Even though my daughters love the animated PBS series Dinosaur Train, they are too young to say their complex names.  But, Savannah has already begun counting and can count up to 10.  She loves when I read this book to her and her sister, as she helps me to count each dinosaur.  And, when I say their names, she looks at me and says, "No, Mommy" as she thinks I am making up these goofy sounding names.  I know in time she will understand that these are the real, long names of dinosaurs, and will enjoy learning how to pronounce now.  But, in the meantime, this book is great for those who love dinosaurs and are learning to count.

Bake It in a Cup!
Buy now for only $18.99.
10-1/8 x 6-1/4 x 2-1/2 in; 64 pp;
6 silicone cups in 3 colors, full-color throughout
Published in September, 2012
ISBN 9781452108773
ISBN10 1452108773

"Bake It in a Cup! is a must-have follow-up to the bestselling Cook It in a Cup!, the cookbook kids love! With all of the ingredients for an unforgettable time in the kitchen—including six colorful silicone cups—kids will build on basic baking skills to whip up mouthwatering recipes and comfort food favorites, like stuffed peppers, calzones, tamales, casseroles, fruit cobbler, madeleines, and more. Twenty-five simple recipes are all made with easy-to-clean, oven and microwave-safe baking cups. "
Julia Myall has worked as a chef in many premier San Francisco restaurants and as a cooking teacher at the American Embassy in Paris. She is the author of Cook It in a Cup! and Party in a Cup! She lives in Lafayette, California.

Greg Lowe is a photographer based in Oakland, California.

My Thoughts:

Who knew that my husband would roll up his sleeves and get into the kitchen to bake with my daughters?  He never cooked before, but wanted to start a weekly tradition, where each Friday he would make something with Savannah, as part of his Daddy and Me time.  Even though they usually stick to prepared mixes, their favorite thing to make is cupcakes.  Savannah loves to line to the cupcake tray with liners, as she shows off her counting skills.  And, when they are done mixing and pouring the batter into the cupcake trays, she even helps her Daddy slowly walk the tray over to the oven, and then sets the microwave timer.  She, then pulls up a chair in the dining room, reads a book with Daddy, as they wait for the microwave to beep and their sweet treats to be done.

So, then I surprised them a few weeks ago with this new kit from Chronicle Books, they couldn't wait to try it out.  My husband couldn't believe that you could make meals in a cupcake tin, like calzones tamales and even twice-baked potatoes.  They started out making the ever popular blueberry blasters, followed by a tasty fruit cobbler, before experimenting for meals in a cup.  But, when they got around to making the calzones and tamales, they were out of this world delicious.  

This all in one bake set, which includes 6 silicone cups (which can be used in the microwave or oven, and are dishwasher safe)
and a jam packed cookbook will have children eager to get into the kitchen to make things other than cupcakes. So, with the holidays right around the corner, why not surprise your little baker with the "Bake it in a Cup" set from Chronicle Books?  

K Is for Knifeball

Buy now for only $9.95. 

6 x 6 in; 80 pp;
full-color images throughout
Published in September, 2012
ISBN 9781452103310
ISBN10 1452103313  

"From the authors of the breakout bestseller All my friends are dead. (more than 175,000 copies sold) and in the humorous vein of Go the F**k to Sleep comes a laugh-out-loud collection of bad advice that turns the children’s alphabet book on its head. Adorable illustrated characters lead readers down a path of poor decision-making, and alphabetical, rhyming couplets offer terrible life lessons in which O is for opening things with your teeth, F is for setting Daddy’s wallet on fire, and R is for Raccoon (but definitely not for rabies). With plenty of playfully disastrous choices lurking around every corner, this compendium of black humor may be terrible for actual children, but it’s perfect for the common-senseless child in all adults. "
Avery Monsen is a New York–based artist and writer.

Jory John is a California-based writer, editor, and cartoonist. They are the authors of All my friends are dead. and All my friends are still dead.



 My Thoughts: 

I had to throw in a book for adults, as we all need a way to unwind, and what better way than read a book that makes you laugh, and doesn't make you have to think.  I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter, Savannah, I received so much parenting advice.  On occasion, a few people would try to humor with words of wisdom they had heard, which was off the wall.  And, when I received this book to review, it reminded me of the things I had previously.  I included a few of my favorite advice from the book above.  Not only with the advice have you in stitches, but the illustrations that go along with each with crack you up.  I wouldn't advise to put this book out on the coffee table where young readers can pick up and read.  But, it would be a great bedside book read, when you just want to zone out and forget about the crazy day you had.  And, if you are looking for a cute book to give as a baby shower gift to new or expecting moms, why not throw in a copy of this book, .  It will make those final weeks easier to bear, as they laugh their way into the delivery room. :-)

I'd love to hear what other books have caught your eye, or that you picked up for your children (or, yourself) to enjoy, as I am always looking for new books to read and share with my family.  And, who doesn't love to snuggle up on the couch with a good book and hot cup of cocoa? :-)

Disclosure: I was sent samples of the above books in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

1 comment :

  1. My kids would love these books! Thank you for the reviews.