Friday, October 10, 2014

Season's Readings

September is a time for back-to-school shopping; for me, September is a time to investigate the forthcoming holiday books. We're well in October, which means that the Halloween and Thanksgiving books are either on our shelves or will be soon. If you saw last week's Wowbrary edition, you saw that we just ordered Christmas and Hanukkah books. If you already have the Halloween or Thanksgiving spirit, or want to plan ahead for a cold winter's reading, keep an eye out for these books:

This little board book is perfect for the littlest trick-or-treaters. The Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin, as may guess, is meant to be sung to the tune of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." This little pumpkin must get by a witch and a  goblin before being reunited with his pumpkin family before Halloween.

Every fall, I look for fun and unique Thanksgiving-themed books. Unfortunately, while I can usually find several fine Halloween, Christmas, or Hanukkah books every season (and I am picky about the new holiday books I order, because we already have a a number of outstanding holiday titles on our shelves), the search for interesting new Thanksgiving books usually falls flat. There's only so much you can do with Pilgrims/Native Americans or feasting with family. I'm hoping that The Great Thanksgiving Escape will appeal to both children and adults looking for Thanksgiving stories; the reviews for a family Thanksgiving gathering told from a young boy's point of view have been quite positive: "Kids will identify, and parents will reminisce", according to Kirkus Reviews, while School Library Journal is confident that  readers should "expect requests for second helpings of this holiday treat."

Llama Llama is the "If You Give a ___ a ___" series of the 21st century. There just seems to be no end to Llama Llama's escapades; in Llama Llama Trick or Treat, Llama Llama picks out a costume and has fun trick-or-treating.

I'm always happy to find holiday-related easy readers; they are great draws for beginning readers. Thanksgiving Mice features school-age mice who discover the trials and tribulations of  theater life while putting on a Thanksgiving play. Bethany Roberts has created many holiday-related picture books featuring mice; glad to see that she is delving into easy readers.

Believe it or not, our Christmas and Hanukkah books should arrive by the end of the month; many have an October or even a late September publication date. I'm eagerly anticipating many awesome December reads:

Tony Brenner's And Then Comes Halloween is a terrific Halloween book, so I'm expecting that And Then Comes Christmas will be just as enticing. Except a warm and cozy ode to Christmas joys; School Library Journal calls it "Norman Rockwell-like."

I've no doubt that Jan Brett's latest picture book offering will fly off the shelves once we receive it; the story line of  The Animals' Santa is centered on a bunny (an animal not commonly found in Christmas stories!) who learns about the animals' own Santa through his forest friends.  Publishers Weekly promises that "the dramatic arrival of well worth the wait" (I removed a spoiler).

EllRay Jakes is one of my favorite easy chapter book series, so I'm super stoked that we will receive EllRay Jakes Rocks the Holidays! for our new winter reads.  EllRay Jakes is looking forward to the Christmas festivities at school, until a friend challenges him to emcee and sing "Jingle Bell Rock." Oh, no! Thankfully, EllRay Jakes's father is a big support; you see, EllRay doesn't feel like he really fits in at his school, but his dad encourages him to take pride in his differences.  I love the family relationships depicted in this series, so this is definitely at the top of my holiday reading list!

Is it possible for  Here Comes Santa Cat to be as hysterically funny as Here Comes the Easter Cat? If the sample pages I've seen are any indication, the answer is an emphatic yes!  Unlike in his first outing, this cat isn't trying to actually replace Santa (he learned his lesson when he tried to replace the Easter Bunny). Instead, he's trying to get on Santa's "nice list" by doing a number of good deeds--which fall ridiculously apart.  Cannot wait.

Honeyky Hanukah is a picture book adaptation of Woody Guthrie's song of the same name (written for his wife's Jewish family). Not much story to this; it's a celebration of a very musical and active family Hanukkah celebration (note the single K in the title; Hanukkah can be spelled several ways).  An accompanying CD features the Klezmatics singing the tune.

Lee Bennett Hopkins's collections of poetry are always masterful; this collection features poems told from the perspective of animals that may have been present at the birth of Jesus.  Manger's reviews have been stupendous: "joyful" (Publishers Weekly) and "worth savoring slowly during the Christmas season" (Kirkus Reviews).

Holiday books that feature characters or information from a multicultural point of view always catch my eye; Twas Nochebuena follows a Latino family celebrating Christmas Eve; School Library Journal hails it as "a wonderful way to celebrate and learn about Latino Christmas traditions." I like the sound of that!

New holiday books are always such fun; look for these titles on the "new books" shelves at your local Fauquier County Public Library very soon! (Halloween and Thanksgiving books are already being enjoyed by our patrons.)

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

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