Sunday, November 27, 2016

7 Holiday Favorites from Sleeping Bear Press to Add to Your Family's Christmas Book Advent This Year (Review)

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

Can you believe that there are only 27 days left until Christmas? Boy, where did the time go?  It feels like we were just counting down until trick or treating, and then we blinked and Thanksgiving was here.  Now, we are scurrying to get all the gifts on our holiday shopping lists and putting up the Christmas tree and decorations.  We put our tree up yesterday, and I finished the last of the wrapping.  Now, I can sit back and enjoy the holidays with the girls -- from watching all the holiday specials on television, dancing and singing along to Christmas carols and songs, and snuggling up and reading Christmas books with the girls.  I just love this time of year and am having so much fun reading books from new book publishers I have stumbled above while trying to put together a wonderful holiday gift guide for you all, and help making your holiday shopping a little easier with my reviews.  

Recently, I stumbled across Sleeping Bear Press, and found myself wanting all their books, as I knew the girls would love them.  And, after reaching out to the folks at this children's publisher, who specializes in books for young children, middle grades students, and young adult readers, they were kind enough to send along a sampler of some of their recent and best selling holiday books for me to share with my girls and you all. 

We received a box full of books from Sleeping Bear Press the other day and I couldn't wait to share the books with the girls.  I showed them each book, and they giggled at a few -- "Santa's Underwear" and "Deck the Walls" -- which the girls asked me to read first.  In addition to these two books, we were also sent four additional holiday books, which have become instant favorites in our house, and would make for great additions to your family's Christmas Advent Book countdown.  

Image result for christmas book advent

Don't know what a book advent is?  It is when you grab a bunch of books...we usually do 12 books, to go along with the classic, "12 Days of Christmas".  You can purchase new books, including the ones I mention in this post and previous posts I shared over the past few weeks...or, look through your bookcases and full holiday books your family has enjoyed in years past and would be fun sharing and enjoying again.  To make it even more fun, you can wrap each book and number them 1-12 -- or, just put in a basket or stack near the tree, and each night let the kids choose one book to read.  Then, you snuggle up on the couch under warm blankets and enjoy together.  We started a book advent last year to count down the days until Santa's arrival, and the girls loved it.  So, I will not be making sure that we keep this tradition each holiday season, as we continue to enjoy favorite holiday books we own, as well as new books that release from popular children's book publishers like Sleeping Bear Press.

Here are seven wonderful holiday books from Sleeping Bear Press that would make for a great books to add to your family's book advent this holiday season...

Cover: Boris and Stella and the Perfect Gift

About this Book:

"Boris is a musician, playing the songs he learned growing up in Russia. Stella is a baker, baking cakes and pastries like her father used to back in Italy. Boris and Stella live in the city and are best friends. 

They like movies, hats, and each other. At holiday time, Stella wants to give Boris the perfect present for Hanukkah. She wants him to know how special he is. Boris wants to give Stella the perfect present for Christmas—she means so much to him. But perfect presents cost money and their savings banks contain very little. 

To make their dreams of perfect presents come true, Boris and Stella each sacrifice something very special. In a nod to O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi comes this tender story celebrating traditions, friendships, and gifts from the heart."

My Thoughts:

This is a cute story about two city bears who live in the same building, but have come from different walks of life.  Boris is a thoughtful musician from Russia and celebrates Hanukkah, while Stella is a talented baker from Italy who celebrates Christmas.  And, just like in the classic, "The Gift of the Magi," these two bears find themselves wanting to buy each other a special heartfelt gift, but they don't have the money to do some. So, they sell off one of their most prized possessions to get the other a gift they know they will love.  Boris sells his dreidel collection, while Stella sells her small but oh so cherished Christmas tree.  

If you are familiar with "The Gift of the Magi," then you know the gifts that are bought for the other person can't be used anymore as their original intention was to be given and used with what the other person loved and cherished so much -- in this case a star from Boris to add to the top of Stella's Christmas tree, and a new dreidel from Israel from Stella for Boris to add to his dreidel collection.

This heartwarming story shares the true meaning of the season, as well as does a wonderful job in sharing with family's that even though people celebrate different holidays like Hanukkah and Christmas, that we can still come together and celebrate the season and that being in each other's company is the perfect gift of all.

My girls loved this story, and felt bad when they saw the two bears buying a gift they knew the other wouldn't be able to use as they each sold their prized possession to have money to buy the "perfect gift" for each other.  But, in the end, they saw how the bears accepted the heartfelt gifts and would use them to start a new dreidel collection and to add to a Christmas tree Stella would grow and care for.   

This book is beautifully written and the illustrations just add to the wonderful story.  "Boris and Stella and the Perfect Gift" is truly a touching story that will be enjoyed this holiday and for years to come.

About this Book:

"There is nothing like a grandmother's love. This sweet story celebrates the special bond between grandma and grandchild at Christmas time. 

With a bedtime-friendly singsong rhythm and adorable holiday illustrations, this books is sure to charm children and grandmothers alike!"

My Thoughts:

I ended up having my Mom read this book to the girls at bedtime when she stayed over for Thanksgiving.  I knew it would be the perfect book to share between a grandparent and grandchildren.  As she snuggled up with the girls on opposites side of her in Bella's bed, she read this heartwarming story about the special bond a grandmother has with her grandchild, especially around the holidays.  

I never knew the extent of love my Mom had for me, until I had my two girls.  And, then when I saw her set her eyes on them, I could see had "new" love that can only be felt between a grandparent and grandchild.  I was the first of my siblings to gift my parents with grandchildren.  And, once they became grandparents, their hearts got bigger and it was like a breath of new life was breathed into them.  They had someone more now to live for, and wanted to be around to experience "firsts" with my girls.  And, don't get me started on them spoiling the girls, like only a grandparent can.  Whenever my parents come to visit, the girls and their eyes light up, and they enjoy time spent together.  And, being able to share a cute story like this one, made for a more memorable Thanksgiving, and start to a wonderful holiday season.

If you are blessed with grandchildren and will be seeing them this holiday season, why not consider picking up this book to share with them.  Even if you can't be with them due to distance or other circumstances, this book would also make a great gift to send them, so that they know just how much you love and cherish them.  My girls loved this story, and being able to share it with my Mom made it that much more touching and special.

Cover: A Cookie for Santa

About this Book:

"In this clever twist on the Night Before Christmas story, a gingerbread boy cookie is carefully crafted and placed on a plate. He was made special to serve as Santa's nighttime snack, a homemade thank-you for all the presents he will deliver. 

The cookie wonders if he is brave enough to face up to his holiday duty. But instead of spending the evening contemplating his fate, the gingerbread boy finds himself facing two rambunctious puppies experiencing their very first Christmas. 

Their mischief includes a tug-of-war with presents, leaving a big mess. And it's up to the gingerbread boy to save the day…and Christmas!"

My Thoughts:

This is a cute twist on the classic "Night Before Christmas" story, that centers around a gingerbread boy left out for Santa on the cookie plate, who wonders if he is up for the "challenge" of being Santa's nighttime snack.  He hops off the cookie plate and mischief ensues, including a tug of war with presents, encounter with the family dogs and so much more.  As you and your child read through this cleverly written story you will see that the gingerbread boy caused more trouble when he left the cookie plate.  Now, it is up to the gingerbread boy to save the day, and get back to the plate in time for Santa's arrival.

Kids will love the rhyming scheme of the text, that flows just like "Night Before Christmas."  They will also enjoy the colorful and playful illustrations, which add to the clever retelling of this Christmas story featuring a spunky gingerbread boy cookie.  This book would make for a great addition to your family's holiday book collection.  And, once you read it, you will see why it is the perfect book to add to your family's book advent as you count down to Santa's arrival and get your plate of cookies or gingerbread boy cookies ready for Santa's late night snack. 

About this Book:

"It's Christmas Eve and Santa is busy getting gussied up for the big night. But when he goes to put on his warm, cozy (holey, ragged) Christmas underwear, they're nowhere to be found! With undies for every occasion, he tries on the rest of his collection. 

But nothing is quite right. Just when he's about to give up he finds a surprise from his considerate team of reindeer. 

Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas!"

My Thoughts:
This is the first book my girls saw from the stack of books from Sleeping Bear Press. And, it was the first one they wanted to read, as they couldn't stop giggling with the title and seeing Santa in his little underwear.  They wondered what the story was about, and knew it would have them in stitches laughing.

Are you on the receiving end of receiving underwear for Christmas?  I remember growing up my grandmother would also get my brothers  and I underwear and socks for Christmas as she said we had enough toys or that Santa would handle that.  She knew you could never have enough underwear, and this is seen in this laugh out loud holiday book everyone in the house will enjoy reading.  The story opens on Christmas Eve when Santa is getting ready for his big night.  He is taking a bath and brushing his long white beard.  But, when he goes to put on his favorite broken in long-john underwear, they are nowhere to be found.  So, instead, he has to look at other underwear he has or the elves bring him to find which will work for his long flight and work delivering presents to all the children of the world.  

As you read through this story, kids and adults will laugh as they see watercolor and pencil illustrations depicting Santa in some pretty funny underwear, that includes Valentine's Day boxers and dear I say Santa's birthday suit...quick elves, cover him up. :-)  Will the elves and Santa be able to find the right underwear for Santa to feel comfortable to wear?  Or, will an unexpected gift of underwear be given to him?  Don't worry, I will not ruin the will just have to pick up a copy of "Santa's Underwear" to find out what Santa finally put on and is wearing under his red Santa's suit, as he gets ready to make a stop at your house on Christmas Eve...underwear (hopefully) and all. :-)

About this Book:

"It's Christmas Eve and Spark Elf has the very important job of keeping Santa Claus on schedule as he travels the globe in 24 hours delivering presents. Small in stature with pointy ears and stopwatch in hand, Spark lets Santa know it's time to go. He programs the GPS while the other elves secure the toy bag and check the Nice list. Little known fact: We don't even bring the Naughty list with us. 

Six hours into the trip Santa, sleigh and crew begin to fall behind--so many cuddly doggies to pet and extra cookies to eat. The jolly group makes up time in Brazil and soon find themselves back at the North Pole. Their work is done. But wait, there's something left in the bag--but it isn't a present at all--it's a family dog! Well known fact: Santa gives things away. 

He does not take things! Momma Claus comes to the rescue with a plan to get the dog back to his family. Can Santa return the family's beloved pooch in time to keep their Christmas merry?"

My Thoughts:

This is the perfect book for all those tech savvy kids out there -- which is most of them, even preschoolers.  My girls were navigating our iPads and phones at an early age, and now can't go a day without using or asking to use a tech gadget.  So, it is only fitting that authors pen cute holiday books that include both characters of the season and tech gadgets, just like in this cute story about an elf recounting a Christmas Eve that might not have had a happy ending for a stowaway dog.

I was first introduced to the author of this book, Devin Scillian, when my girls brought home one of his previous releases from the library, " Memoirs of a Hamster." They loved the book so much that we began a hunt at the library and bookstore for other books by this author -- all of which ended up delighting the girls.  So, when heard about this holiday book, I just had to get my hands on a copy to share with them.  My girls love all things elves and dressed in their favorite elf pajamas the other night when I read this book to them.

As the girls settled in to listen to the story, they were quick to point out the elf's green cell phone and that Santa's sleigh was equipped with a GPS to help him navigate his trip around the world.  They thought this was the coolest thing and loved that Santa and the elves were techy savvy like they were.  This is one book made for this generation of kids, as we would never have thought about cell phones or GPS for Santa and the elves, that is for sure.

The girls loved everything about this book including time stamping of the events that the elf wrote down in his journal.  They were rooting for the elves and Santa to get Tugboat back home to his family, as they understood that family is the best gift of all.  Does Tugboat make it back home?  You will just have to pick up this cute book to find out for yourself. 

About this Book:

"Deck the halls with boughs of holly, Fa la la la la la la la la. How wonderful the old carol sounds. A vision of warm family gatherings peacefully celebrating the holiday season comes to mind. But wait, this doesn’t sound like a peaceful family get-together. What is happening here? Deck the walls with mashed potatoes! 

Fa la la la la la la la la. Make a snowman with tomatoes. Fa la la la la la la la la. 

Author Erin Dealey has taken the old holiday classic and turned it on its head. In her riotous, raucous rendition of a family meal gone hilariously awry, you’ll find food hockey, vegetable sculptures, crashing dishes, and grown-ups wondering what has gone wrong. From “Feed the dog our peas and carrots” to “Food tastes better when you wear it,” readers young and old will never forget this new take on an old holiday carol!"

My Thoughts:

Does your family love singing Christmas carols?  How about "Fa La La La La?" If so, you will love this cute take on "Deck the Halls" that will have your family singing "Deck the Walls" as you gear up for the holidays.  This book, like many of the others I shared about has family at the center of the story.  The holidays are more than what you get under the Christmas is being with family and creating memories with them. 

This cute book will definitely be one book your family will enjoy reading and singing off key to, as you count down until Santa's arrival.  The illustrations are colorful and really make the story/song come to life.  As you read through the pages you find shrinking relatives, olive hocky at the kids' table and so much more, as you end each page with "fa la la la la la la la la."  

If you are not smiling and singing by the end of this book, then you are Scrooge.  :-)

About this Book:

"In The Nutcracker's Night Before Christmas preparations for a doomed stage production of the classic ballet goes from terribly bad to ridiculously worse. 

Sick stagehands, renegade cats, and crashing Christmas trees have everyone sure that the show won't go on. But it's Christmas Eve and help is on the way! 

Told in verse with wonderful whimsical illustrations, this story hits all the right notes for holiday reading."

My Thoughts:

I have lost count of how many holiday books I have received since September to consider and include in my holiday gift guide --- stopped counting after 100.  But, I can say that this book is the first that I have read with the girls that melds two classic Christmas stories together -- The Nutcracker and "Twas the Night Before Christmas."  This story which is about a school performance of the Nutcracker, which turns into a disaster is told in rhyming fashion of "The Night Before Christmas."  

Kids and adults will fall in love this classic two-stories merged into one.  It really does make for a unique tale to share this Christmas.  While the book is not a retelling of the Nutcracker, it does have illustrations featuring the various characters seen in the ballet, as Santa and his elves step in and help save the day of this Christmas Eve performance that is  ready to have the curtain pulled on it.

As you can see from the illustrations in the "About this Book" section, they are beautifully done.  They are playful and colorful and do a great job in sharing the melding of two classic holiday stories.  You will find yourself stopping to admire the illustrations before moving on to see what happens next in the story.  And, by the time you get to the end of the book, you will happy clapping and cheering on Santa who saves the day. :-)


Aren't these some great holiday books from the folks at Sleeping Bear Press? My girls loved them, and have asked me to wrap them and include in our "12 days of Christmas" book advent that we will be starting soon.  To learn more about these and other wonderful books that would make great holiday gifts or for inclusion in your family's book advent, visit  This is definitely one children's book publisher I will be keeping on my radar in the new year.   The girls loved all the books, and I love the selection that is offered for all reading levels.

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

No comments :

Post a Comment