CHRISTMAS BOOK REVIEW: advent storybooks day 12, 13, 14
Book review round up!
DAY 12 – Christmas Farm – Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Barry Root
The story of Wilma, a handy gardener, who decides to plant a Christmas tree farm with her five-year-old neighbor Parker. Wilma likes to grow flowers in the summer, but wants to try something different next year … she’s a little stumped on what that different thing might be … until she hikes up her backyard hill for her yearly Christmas tree and wonders where Christmas trees come from. Over the next five years, Parker and Wilma tend sixty-two dozen tree seedlings -- which are five years old, just like Parker! -- taking careful stock of what happens to the trees at each seasonal turn. The story culminates at Christmas five years later, after all but 29 trees have been harvested! Wilma and Parker marvel at the city lights, realizing their trees have gone to nearby homes and are contributing to Christmas cheer. They promptly return home, where they order eighty-three dozen new seedlings.
Overall a very cute book! I enjoyed the cute message about growing up and how your experiences change you ... kids that love math will enjoy counting the trees on each page, and there’s also some facts about how long a balsam fir tree takes to grow. All very sweet! Root’s pictures also really make this story sing. I love to see seasonal changes in pictures, and this story flows through each change in lively, vibrant paintings.
DAY 13 – OLIVIA Helps with Christmas – Ian Falconer
Olivia the pig is anxious for Christmas, but there’s a lot to do before the big day arrives … the tree needs decorated, Santa needs watched-for, Christmas dinner needs eaten, and carols need sung! And then the big day finally arrives … and toys need to be played with!!
This story perfectly encapsulates the anticipation and DRAMA of Christmas eve for young children! Olivia’s boisterous personality is present on each page as she helps her brothers prepare for Christmas. Ian’s story and drawings are a delight, and are especially fun to share with a group … I think my favorite pages are the ones where Olivia does something shocking … and there are a lot of those!! The book is also beautifully designed, with big, easy to read pictures and two fold-out spreads that reveal a twist!
DAY 14 – Merry Christmas, Strega Nona – Tomie dePaola
Strega Nona is busy planning a Christmas feast for the entire town, but her helper Big Anthony is feeling a little lazy! If only Strega Nona would use her magic to make all this work go away … but Strega Nona says “no magic at Christmastime!” because Christmas has a magic of its own. On Christmas eve, Big Anthony makes plans of his own and “forgets” to prepare for Strega Nona’s feast … just when everything looks ruined, the entire town surprises Strega Nona with a party of their own!
If you haven’t guessed by now that I have a favorite illustrator on this list !! (there’s even one more coming, I went absolutely crazy for his Christmas books!) DePaola’s books really are a feast of design and color, and this one is no different. I especially love the character designs in this book … everyone is so soft and emotive, you know exactly what to expect when they appear on the page!