Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Our Storybook Advent Calendar Is Going to be Filled with Wonderful Holiday Selections from Simon & Schuster (Review)

Disclosure:  I was sent books from the publisher in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.

After reading online about other traditions families have, we decided to start a book advent with the girls this year.  We began yesterday, and will continue up through Christmas Eve, where we will read a new holiday book each night at bedtime.  Not only will be adding a fun new assortment of holiday books to our girls' growing collection, but instead of the annual chocolate advent calendar, this one is more personal and lets us bond with the girls, by snuggling and spending quality time reading together.  

How fun!

Thanks to Simon and Schuster, I have found a wonderful selection of holiday and winter stories to share with the girls as part of our book advent countdown. Take a look at the books we will be reading and enjoying over the next few weeks:

The Sweet Story of Hot Chocolate!
Illustrated by: Rob McClurkan
For Ages: 6 - 8


"Warm up with the enticing history of hot chocolate in this fact-tastic nonfiction Level 3 Ready-to-Read, part of a series about the history of fun stuff! 

Did you know that for thousands of years, chocolate was a beverage and not a solid candy? Or that soldiers in the Revolutionary War received a monthly ration of chocolate for drinking? Learn all about the history of America’s favorite wintertime treat in this fun, fact-filled Level 3 Ready-to-Read! 

A special section at the back of the book includes relevant info on subjects like social studies and science, and there’s even a fun quiz so you can test yourself to see what you’ve learned!"

My Thoughts:

What child doesn't like to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate during the cold winter months, especially after coming indoors after playing in the snow?  This great beginning reader book, which is also easy for little ones to follow along and understand, shares fun facts about the story of chocolate and why so many people like to drink chocolate.  

Kids are first introduced how chocolate is made and how it is harvested.  Then, the remaining chapters share how people over the ages have enjoyed chocolate, including hot chocolate.  From the soldiers in the Revolutionary War receiving rations to President George Washington enjoying a beverage called chocolate cream.  President Thomas Jefferson also loved hot chocolate.  It is fascinating to read the facts about how hot chocolate has been made and enjoyed over the years, and seeing how famous people in history also enjoyed this hot beverage.  

Not only was this a fun story to read, but it was chock full of fun facts, that even my husband and I found interesting. The kids were learning while also enjoying a story about their favorite hot winter beverage.  We couldn't have asked for a better book to kick off our book advent calendar. :-)

Mike and the Snow Dragon


"Mike the Knight is excited to play in the snow in this Level 1 Ready-to-Read! 

It’s winter and Mike wants to play outside! But his dragon friends, Sparkie and Squirt, do not like the snow. Can Mike find a way to make the snow fun for everyone? This charming Level 1 Ready-to-Read is based on a popular episode of the hit show. "

My Thoughts:

Both of my girls are fans of Mike the Knight, and were excited to see that this popular HIT Entertainment show was releasing a wintry story to enjoy.  If you have a Mike the Knight fan in your house, this is the perfect book to add to their stocking, or read at bedtime, as the snow falls outside.  Another "Ready to Read" book, this is perfect for beginning readers and those learning letter and word recognition.  Savannah has been having a blast pointing out the different letters of the alphabet and small words, as we read this cute story about Mike and his dragon friends, who take full advantage of the snow outside.

Snowflake Day!

Adapted by: Becky Friedman / Illustrated by: Jason Fruchter
For Ages: 1 - 5
Buy this board book for only $5.99


"Daniel Tiger and the entire neighborhood celebrate Snowflake Day in this super special shaped board book with foil on the cover. A perfect gift for the youngest Daniel Tiger fans! 

It’s Snowflake Day in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, and Daniel Tiger has a special part in the Snowflake Day show. But when the lights go out and it looks like the show won’t go on, it’s up to Daniel to light up the day!"

My Thoughts:

This is one book I am looking forward to sharing with the girls this upcoming holiday season, as it is filled with a few great themes.  Daniel Tiger, along with his family and friends come together to enjoy "Snowflake Day" at the Enchanted Garden.  During their time at this annual event, they are reminded about the importance of family and friends, and how everyone is different, but still beautiful.  Being a board book, it is perfect to share with little ones, who are fans of this animated series which airs daily on PBS Kids, and not have to worry about them tearing pages or ruining it.  My youngest, Bella, is a huge Daniel Tiger fan, and will love this cute story.  And, this is one book I see her pulling from the shelf time and again to read.

No Two Alike
Illustrated by: Keith Baker
For Ages: 3 - 7
Buy this board book for only $7.99


"From bestselling author-illustrator Keith Baker, explore the wondrous world of winter in this charming story now available as a Classic Board Book! 

No two snowflakes are alike,
almost, almost . . .
but not quite.

Follow a pair of birds on a snowflake-filled journey though a gorgeous winter landscape to explore how everything everywhere is wonderfully unique—from branches and leaves to forests and trees to friends and loved ones."

My Thoughts:

I shared a review of this book a few years ago, where I shared how much I loved this story.  I'm so excited to hear that it is now available in a board book format, so that parents of little ones can share this cute snowflake-filled story with their little ones.  The story is easy to follow and understand and the illustrations really bring it to life.  This is another story that will share with children that everyone is different, but that is what makes us unique.  Through a wintry snowflake tale, kids will be able to understand and appreciate that being different is not bad, and that they are loved no matter what. 

Winter Is Coming


"Witness the changing of a season through a watchful child’s eyes in this story of nature and discovery from award-winning author Tony Johnston and New York Times Best Illustrated artist Jim La Marche. 

Day after day, a girl goes to her favorite place in the woods and quietly watches from her tree house as the chipmunks, the doe, the rabbits prepare for the winter. As the temperature drops, sunset comes earlier and a new season begins. Silently she observes the world around her as it reveals its secrets. It takes time and patience to see the changes as, slowly but surely, winter comes."

My Thoughts:

I can't lie, I partially picked this book to share with the girls as I as fell in love with the cover art, and after reading the synopsis thought that this would be a great book that I could share with the girls year after year.  Not only do you get breathtaking illustrations from a New York Times Best Illustrated artist (Jim La Marche), but the author, Tony Johnston, is also award-winning -- so you know that this book will be good -- and, it was!  While I haven't shared the book yet with the girls, I did sneak a peak and read it the other evening.  I loved how this book shares with children how animals in nature have to prepare for winter.  And, as you read through the story, you get to see the slow changes from fall to winter and the snow start to cover the tree branches and ground, thus putting the animals who live in the woods into winter mode.  

Be sure to give your family extra time to truly admire the illustrations that fill this storybook, as they are full of detail.  Then, talk to your children about how animals in nature prepare, just like humans do, to welcome in winter and snow.  Make it a fun learning experience about seasonal changes and how animals cope with winter, either by hibernating, flying south, or going underground to stay warm.   This is definitely one book we will be reading time and time again, and one I see the girls wanting to pull from the shelf, just to flip through the pages and admire the illustrations.

Uncles and Antlers


"Grab the reins of this Christmas counting story starring eight wacky reindeer who make up a happy family—and help Santa fly his sleigh—illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Brian Floca. 

Shaggy coats,
scarves of red.
Two tall antlers
on each head.

Get in the holiday spirit and count from one to eight in this playful tribute to a team of reindeer relatives, each quirky and fun, who help a certain jolly old man bring delight to children each years."

My Thoughts:

Who doesn't love a silly book to read at bedtime?  This book is sure to make little ones giggle, as they count along from 1-8, and learn about the eight reindeers that help Santa make his successful journey around the world each Christmas Eve.

And you thought your family was weird?  Get ready to meet a quirky reindeer family full of uncles who are unique in their right.  As you read through the pages of this cute holiday story, you will meet Uncle named Quint who plays basketball and has five earrings and tattoos, as well as five new pairs of brand-name shows.  Or, how about Uncle four-eyes, whose antlers weigh a ton, has four lassos and four spurs, as well as four-gallon hats.  Oh, and I can't forget that there is an uncle who loves to belt out Elvis tunes. :-)

The Christmas Show


"The Christmas pageant doesn’t go QUITE as planned in this fantastically funny holiday tale for the forgetful kid in all of us. 

It’s almost time for the nativity play, and everyone has been practicing hard. The narrators know their lines, the Important Angel has brushed her hair, and the audience is in their seats, eagerly awaiting a special Christmas performance. But there’s one cast member whose listening skills haven’t exactly been the best, and no one’s expecting a spare shepherd to steal the show… 

This boldly illustrated picture book is full of festive fun, and a cheerful reminder that the unexpected can also be unexpectedly entertaining."

My Thoughts:

Here is another cute holiday book that will have kids and adults giggling as they read through the pages.  I can't recall a nativity play I have attended that hasn't had a flub.  That is what makes these plays that much fun to watch.  And, when you have children acting out scenes, they are bound to forget lines, bump into one another on the stage, or end up making up their own stories as they go along.  

This storybook is filled with bright colorful illustrations that are both playful and fun, and will keep little ones engaged, as you read about the story of Christmas.  And, even though the nativity play in this story doesn't go as planned, it still was enjoyed and one shepherd ends up stealing the show and impressing his grandma especially. :-)

A Little Women Christmas


"A cherished holiday scene from a beloved classic comes to life in this festive, cozy picture book homage to Little Women

It’s almost Christmas, and Jo March is determined that this year, unlike the last, there will be presents. It is in this spirit that she and her dear friend Laurie build a snow maiden for poor, sick Beth. The next day, Beth is thrilled with her present, and each of the girls, in turn, receives a little something from the others. But the best gift of all arrives when Papa, who has been away at war and ill, makes a surprise return home for Christmas dinner. 

With a timeless message of goodwill and giving and stunning painted artwork, A Little Women Christmas makes a perfect gift for fans of Louisa May Alcott’s literary treasure as well as for anyone who appreciates the true meaning of Christmas."

My Thoughts:

This is another book I picked up not just because of the girls, but because I wanted to read it and add it to our holiday book collection to read year after year.  Are you a fan of Little Women?  If so, you will love this holiday story, which is filled with breathtaking illustrations, that can be enjoyed without even reading the story.  While my girls may be a little young to truly appreciate this story and Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women," I know in time, this will become a book they will ask for and want to read when they begin reading on their own.

This holiday classic would make for a great bedtime read as you and your family count down the days until Christmas, or simply as a book to give as a gift to give "Little Women" fans, both young and old.  I have had this book out on the coffee table since receiving and have had so many family and friends flip through it and comment on how wonderful it is.  I know your family will love it, too!

Star Bright


"This perfectly angelic—and perfectly charming—Christmas story offers a creative twist on the classic tale of the nativity, from the #1 New York Times bestselling creators of Someday.

The angels are aflutter: a baby is soon to be born! One small angel can tell this baby is especially special by the way the other angels are dashing and fussing about. And holy moly, are their presents extraordinary. The little angel wants to give a present too, but, what could she possibly offer that is as worthy as the others’ gifts?

At a loss for original ideas, she peeks over the side of her platform and spies something going on in the desert—a caravan of kings on camels, lost in the dark. And suddenly she knows she most do something, and does the only thing she can. Because the greatest gift of all? It can’t be wrapped. It can’t be bought. It can only be selflessly, joyfully given. And it ends up being the perfect gift for that little baby…the shiningest gift at all."

My Thoughts:

If you are looking for a book to share the true meaning of Christmas with little ones that they can understand and will enjoy, then this is the book for you.  A spin on the classic, "The Little Drummer Boy," this book will share about the gifts given to Baby Jesus.  The illustrations in this storybook are unlike others I have seen.  The pages are filled with purple hues and warm colors, making for a relaxing and joyous read.  I can't wait to share this story with my girls, and talk to them further about why we celebrate Christmas.

The Twelve Rabbids of Christmas


"Celebrate the holidays with the Rabbids in this hilarious 8x8 storybook parody of a classic Christmas poem! 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Rabbids gave to me
Twelve plungers plunging, eleven robbers robbing, ten babies burping, nine grandpas farting, eight sirens shrieking....

The Rabbids wreak havoc on the classic Twelve Days of Christmas song in this hilarious parody! They’re handing out gifts that aren’t on anyone’s list…and these gifts can’t be returned very easily!"

My Thoughts:

Are your children fan of Rabbids Invasion, an animated series on television?  My husband stumbled across this unique series, and it caught the attention of my girls, who became instant fans.  So, now whenever my husband comes home from work, he will snuggle up with the girls and watch the episode that aired early in the day with the girls, as I prepare dinner.

It was only a matter of time before books based on this hit television series was series, to go hand in hand with the toys.  And, now fans of the show will enjoy this Christmas story.  This story is a unique spin on the classic "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and features the Rabbids and all their craziness. This is definitely one countdown to Christmas kids will remember.

The First Snowfall


"Let the snowflakes fall! Enjoy a cold-weather adventure in this updated classic from the author of Apples and Pumpkins

Snow falls and falls all through the night. And when morning comes, it’s time for fun! Watch the snowplows sweep the streets. Shovel walkways! Build a snowman! Sled! Ski! There are so many wonderful things to do in this magical snow-covered world! 

This updated edition of a wintry favorite includes new jacket art from Lizzy Rockwell and refreshed interior art and design."

My Thoughts:

Ever since we got our first ground covering of snow, the girls have been asking when more will fall, so that they can go outside and build snowmen and make snow angels.  Savannah even asked Santa the other day for snow for Christmas.  Here's crossing our fingers for a snowy Christmas. :-)

This cute story, which is perfect for younger listeners shares all about the beauty and wonderful things you can do in the snow.  From sledding and skiing to watching the snow be pushed aside from big snowplows and those shoveling the walkways.  Snow is a wondrous thing and this book is sure to delight little one, and get them asking, "Where is the snow?," so that they, too, can get all bundled up and go outside to enjoy the freshly fallen snow.  

I plan to share this book when I know for certain that we will have a snow day, as I know the girls will be asking for snow once the book is through.  And, it will be nice to have them wake the next day and see on the ground. :-)

And, I've saved the best holiday book from Simon & Schuster for last...
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer


"The original story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer—written in verse by his creator, Robert L. May—now with charming new illustrations! 

Every year at Christmastime, everyone—young and old alike—has one catchy, joy-inspiring song stuck in their heads: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!” Now fans of the most famous reindeer of all-time can fall in love with the original story, written by Robert L. May in 1939. 

Rudolph, a youthful reindeer buck who possesses an unusual luminous red nose, is harassed mercilessly and excluded by his peers because of this trait. One particularly stormy Christmas Eve, Rudolph manages to prove himself after Santa Claus catches sight of his nose and asks him to lead his sleigh for the evening. Rudolph agrees, saving Christmas, and is finally treated the way he deserves by his fellow reindeer!"

My Thoughts:

I really don't have to say much about this classic holiday story, as it is loved by everyone.  My girls are not into the holiday and love all things Rudolph, so I know they will love listening to this classic story.  What I do want to mention is that this book is filled with new illustrations, which will make it a must have holiday book to pick up and add to your family's collection, so that you can read year after year. 

I loved when my parents would read this and "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to my brothers and I on Christmas Eve, as it made for wonderful dreaming that night, as we eagerly awaited Santa's arrival.  Kids and adults will fall in love with this timeless classic, as they admire the new illustrations that bring the story of Rudolph to life.  What  a great way to celebrate the 75 anniversary of the original story of Rudolph than with this new book, from Simon & Schuster.

Why not add a fun new tradition like the book advent calendar to your family's annual holiday traditions?  Like I said, it is a great way to spend quality time with children, bonding while reading a good book.  My girls really love this new tradition and have helped us pick out books they want to read. Do you have holiday books you enjoy reading to your children?  If so, I would love to hear about them, as we are still looking for a few more books to wrap up our countdown to Christmas with.  So, be sure to leave the book titles in the comments section below.  Thank you, and happy reading!

Mouse's First SnowOLIVIA and the Ice Show
Making a Friend

To learn more about the above Simon and Schuster titles, as well as check out their other book offerings for children of all ages, visit http://www.simonandschuster.com/kids.  Books always make a great gift or stocking stuffer idea.

Disclosure:  I was sent books from the publisher in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.

1 comment :

  1. These books look really amazing for children and those prices are reasonable.
    heather hgtempaddy@hotmail.com