Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Christmas Is Coming

Fun holiday titles fill the shelves this Fall.
Is it too early to talk about holiday books? Nah. This week I'm highlighting a few books I reviewed for my print column last November. In the next couple of weeks I'll highlight some books coming out this year as well.

The Christmas Tugboat: How the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Came to New York
By George Matteson and Adele Ursone
Illustrated by James E. Ransome
Best For: Ages 4 - 8
What is your favorite holiday memory? For one family it’s a special trip to deliver a special package. This story begins in the wee hours of a November morning before the Sun comes up. It follows a young girl as she and her mother join her father on an adventure – a work adventure. He’s a tugboat captain and this morning he is tasked with retrieving the Rockefeller Christmas tree from up the Hudson River and delivering it to Manhattan. 

This book has a nostalgic feel that is enhanced by Ransome’s rich, acrylic paintings. A mixture of panoramic vistas and intimate close up imagery combine with the lilting prose to portray the life of a tugboat captain as much as the journey of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. 

The Christmas Tugboat is an enjoyable book to introduce a discussion of holiday traditions and unique occupations. 

What’s Good: Warm and inviting illustrations.
What’s bad: More about tugboats, than the Rockefeller Christmas tree. 

Clementine for Christmas
By Daphne Benedis-Grab
Best For, Girls: Ages 8 – 12
This is kind of like a Hallmark movie for kids. Only instead of a couple falling in love, three kids become friends. This story is really about three different individuals, how everything is falling apart around them, and their attempt to save the holidays. At the center of events are Josie and her dog Clementine 

Josie usually keeps to herself, but when it’s time to put on the Christmas Festival she really lights up – singing carols and wearing costumes. This year, however, she has to partner with two kids with whom she has nothing in common. Oscar is always in trouble and Gabby is nothing short of perfect. It doesn’t take long to figure out that things are not always as they appear and strong friendships are formed. When chaos breaks out, Josie, Oscar and Gabby are the ones who come together to set everything right for the holidays.

What’s good: Nice character development and good pacing for middle-grade readers.
What’s bad: A little syrupy, but most middle-grade readers won’t mind.

Revenge of the Angels
By Jennifer Ziegler
Best For, Girls: Ages 8 - 12
Fans of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever will enjoy this screwball comedy. Like its predecessor, Revenge of the Flower Girls, this story rotates narration between the triplets – Dawn, Delaney and Darby. The girls want the roles of the wise men in the upcoming Christmas pageant, but alas, they’re cast as angels. The triplets are not allowed to be the wise men because they’re girls. That revelation sets the triplets to scheming, plotting and planning. They are determined to set everything right. The antics are fun, daring and keep the pages turning. 

What’s good: Children will relate to the triplets and laugh through almost every chapter.
What’s bad: Some of the antics are over the top, but that just makes the more fun.