Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Count Down to Christmas with These 6 Great Books from Candlewick Press (Review)

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

We are getting there.  Only 31 days left until Christmas.  Are you getting for the craziness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, or are you just looking to get through Thanksgiving on Thursday?  I am happy that I got all my shopping done last month -- I guess a perk of being laid up with pneumonia and caring for two sick girls -- was able to buy all their gifts online and have shipped to me.  So, now I don't have to worry about lines or toys being out of stock.  Instead, I can enjoy all the fun things about the season -- putting up the Christmas tree, doing fun holiday crafts with the girls, baking, listening to holiday music and watching Christmas movies.  And, when we are not doing this, the girls and I are having a blast reviewing the stacks of holiday books sent to us to review.

Like last year, I will be doing a book advent with the girls as we count down the days until Santa's arrival.  And, over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing posts featuring wonderful book selections from the top children's publishers, that would make for great additions to your family's Christmas book advent.  

If you are unfamiliar with a book advent, it is simple.  Purchase or even pull classic holiday books from your bookshelf and wrap them as if they were presents.  You can either number them 1-12, or simply let your child pick up a book each day.  We put in a holiday basket, so it is easy to keep the books together, and number them 1-12.  We start at 12 and countdown each night.  The girls loved this last year and I have decided to keep this going as a new holiday tradition with we do each Christmas.  

Here are six fun books were read recently and love from Candlewick Press....

Walk This World at Christmastime

  • Synopsis:

  • "Let’s take a stroll around the world,
    to all four corners of the globe.
    Peek through windows, open doors,
    watch as Christmastime unfolds . . . 

    A collection of global cultures, Walk This World at Christmastime illustrates the ways people around the world celebrate Christmas. Travel to a new set of countries with every turn of the page. Lift the numbered flaps for all the fun of an Advent calendar in a format to be read again and again.
    A book. An Advent calendar. A perfect Christmas gift."

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Hardcover: 24 pages
  • Publisher: Big Picture Press; Pop Rep edition (September 27, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763689211
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763689216
  • Product Dimensions: 12.1 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches

My Thoughts:

This was the first time I saw a book that was set up a like an advent.  I thought this was neat.  And, then as I read the book with the girls, I was blown away about how great it was. This book introduces children of all ages to different countries around the globe and their holiday traditions.  From food to toys to their unique holiday traditions, children will flip through the pages as they count down to Christmas from all around the world, while learning fun facts about these places and the holiday season at the same time.

My girls really enjoyed this book.  They loved finding and lifting the flaps on each page and having me read about each countries traditions.  The bright and colorful illustrations really tied this book together.  When we weren't lifting the tabs and reading the text on each page, we were stopping to admire the illustrations that depicted the different countries we were learning about on that particular page.

If you are looking for a fun Christmas advent book, then you will want to pick up a copy of this book.  This would make a great book to kick your family's Christmas Book Advent Countdown. We will defintteily be enjoying this book again as part of our 12 Books of Christmas Countdown kicking off next month.

The Christmas Story


"Long ago in the town of Bethlehem, on a bright and starry night, a baby was born, a child who was called the son of God. Announced by an angel, born in a humble manger, laid in a bed of straw, visited by shepherds and wise men—the age-old, awe-inspiring story of the birth of Jesus is lovingly brought to life by master pop-up artist Robert Sabuda in six gorgeously imagined scenes, culminating in a 3-D manger sheltering humans and beasts, guarded by an angel above. Glinting with touches of gold and pearlescent foil, The Christmas Story is a visual feast, a holiday treasure to be shared with the whole family.

Hope and joy radiate from the pages of Robert Sabuda’s new pop-up book celebrating the Nativity."

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Hardcover: 12 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Pop edition (September 27, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763683264
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763683269
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1.6 x 9.3 inches

My Thoughts:

All I can say about this book is, "Wow"  I have always been a fan of pop-up books, but this one is simply stunning.  There is something about the white pop-ups that makes this celebration of the nativity that much more wonderful.  

Even though this book has 12 pages, you find yourself getting lost in the pages, as you read the story, and then linger admiring the different nativity pop-up scenes.

I highly recommend this book this holiday season.  It would make for a great book to share as Christmas nears, and is one book you will want to put out for all to enjoy, year after year.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

"Jonathan Toomey is the best woodcarver in the valley, but he is always alone and never smiles. No one knows about the mementos of his lost wife and child that he keeps in an unopened drawer. But one early winter’s day, a widow and her young son approach him with a gentle request that leads to a joyful miracle. The moving, lyrical tale, gloriously illustrated by P.J. Lynch, has been widely hailed as a true Christmas classic. 

This beautiful anniversary edition includes a new note from the author and an audio narration by James Earl Jones available as a complimentary download.

“The tale is unfolded with such mastery, humor, and emotional force that we are entirely within its power.” —The New York Times Book Review"

My Thoughts:

I had friends recommend this book last year, but I never made it out to get the book. So, I was excited when I was sent a copy of this book to review.  It was the first book of the batch I shared with the girls.  

At first when the girls saw the long text on each page, they weren't sure they wanted to sit for it, as it was "going to take forever" Bella said.  But, as I started to read the story and the girls saw the illustrations on each page, they had be continue, and sat waiting to hear what happened next.

I can see why this has become a classic story shared by families.  Christmas is all about miracles and this book doesn't disappoint in the miracle department. Don't worry I will not spoil the book.  You will just have to pick up a copy of it to share with your family and see why this is a Christmas classic for so many.



"Failing to get the attention of her busy father, a lonely girl turns back to a fantastic world for friendship and adventure. It’s her third journey into the enticing realm of kings and emperors, castles and canals, exotic creatures and enchanting landscapes. 

This time, it will take something truly powerful to persuade her to return home, as a gripping backstory is revealed that will hold readers in its thrall. Caldecott Honor winner Aaron Becker delivers a suspenseful and moving climax to his wordless trilogy, an epic that began with the award-winning Journey and continued with the celebrated follow-up Quest.

Welcome the much-anticipated finale of Caldecott Honoree Aaron Becker’s wordless trilogy—a spectacular, emotionally satisfying story that brings its adventurer home."

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; F First Edition edition (August 2, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763677302
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763677305
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 0.4 x 10.9 inches

My Thoughts:

Who says you need words to enjoy a story?  Return, which is a follow up to Quest and Journey, both of which my two girls loved and still reach for to enjoy, is an amazing picture book.  As you flip through the pages, you see the story unfolding before your eyes.  My girls love sitting next to me and sharing their take on the story based on what they see.  And, because there are no words on the page, each and every time we read the book, the story takes a different spin or is told in a new way -- so it never gets old.

In addition to telling your own story, my girls and I love the breathtaking illustrations that fill the pages of this book. You could get lost in the pages just looking at the fine detail of the different scenes.  Truly amazing and what makes this yet another great addition in this series from Aaron Becker.  We can't wait to see what book is released next and what journey we are taken on...without words.

Where's Waldo? The Treasure Hunt
  • Synopsis:
"Seek out four lost treasures (a shell, a gem, a feather, and a star) as you play games at sea, across landscapes, up in the sky, and in outer space. Divided into four journeys, this hands-on book is packed with hundreds of searches as well as mazes, word puzzles, matching games, quizzes, spot-the-difference activities, riddles, tangle line teasers, and more. Add the end-of-book checklists with lots of extra things to find and you have hours of mind-bending fun to return to again and again. Tremendous!
Join Waldo and friends on four fantastic adventures in search of treasures—while doing activities and solving puzzles using brain power and a pen."
  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Series: Where's Waldo?
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Act Csm St edition (September 13, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763688118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763688110
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.4 x 11.4 inches

My Thoughts:

Come on, who doesn't love Where's Waldo books?  I loved these books as a kid, especially when I wasn't feeling well, as it would keep me busy laying in bed for hours, just looking for the man in the hat and red and white striped sweater.  And, now that I have a family of my own, I get to share Waldo with them.  

We have a dozen Where's Waldo books on the bookshelf, but this is the first activity book that we have.  I ended up picking up another copy so that both girls could have their own.  We had a blast flipping through pages and looking at the different scenes as we tried to find things.  One of our favorite scenes was "Satellite Sets" which I used as part of our homeschooling when we were studying outer space.  

The girls had a blast matching the different items in the sky to make a pair. In addition to this space themed page, the beginning half of this activity book is filled with space-themed activities to complete, perfect for fans of space and astronomy.

After space, kids will enjoy activities centered around things up in the air, before moving underground, and then out to sea.  The book has 96 pages in total and over 200 stickers, and will provide hours of mind bending fun. My girls are both big puzzle lovers, and had a blast flipping through the pages and completing the different Where's Waldo activities.  

This book would make a perfect stocking stuffer gift, or a gift under the tree for puzzle lovers.  Or, why not pick up and let your children do this activity book when you head on your holiday travel.  It will keep them quiet and entertained, so you don't have to hear, "Are we there yet?" :-)

The Christmas Eve Tree


"It’s late on Christmas Eve, and the little fir tree is the only tree left in the shop. What a poor thing I am, it thinks. But then a young boy enters the store, drawn in from the damp by the warmth and lights and the wonderful smell of Christmas, and he doesn’t seem to mind that the scrawny tree isn’t tall and straight like the others. . . . This magical story, beautifully illustrated by Emily Sutton, captures an unexpected and unforgettable moment of happiness that brings a whole city together.

In a deeply moving story with the hallmarks of a classic, a homeless boy’s rescue of a spindly Christmas tree sparks a glimmer of hope that has far-reaching effects."

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (September 27, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763679178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763679170
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 0.4 x 11.6 inches

My Thoughts:

"The Magic of Christmas Eve Was Everywhere" and this is seen in wonderful holiday story.  Next to The Christmas Story pop up book I shared above, this is my next favorite book from the selection  of books we received recently from Candlewick Press.  Such a moving story about a little homeless boy and his efforts to rescue a puny little Christmas tree, and turn it into a sight of wonder and joy.  

I have lost count on how many times my girls have asked to read this book to them.  But, I don't mind, as it truly is a heartwarming story and perfect for this time of year, as we remind ourselves about the real meaning of the season.  You and your family will find yourself snuggling up as you enjoy this touching story about a little boy and his Christmas tree.

Don't these six books sound great?  They really are!  They're all perfect for your family's book advent, as they will get you into the holiday spirit and make quality time reading with your family that much more special.  To learn more about these and other wonderful titles from Candlewick Press, visit today.

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

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