The Twelve Surprises for Santa and a Review of Nooks and Crannies

Hurray…we’ve had our first real snowfall…our little New England village is a fairytale wonderland. I really do enjoy the look of the snow…I just don’t like to drive in it.

Today is Friday. But before our book review, I want to tell you something else VERY IMPORTANT!

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 Yesterday was the first day of Susanna Hill’s Mostly-World-Famous Holiday Writing Contest. Click here for the guidelines…there is still time for you to enter and join in the fun! When you finish reading my book review, you can scroll down and read my entry to the contest.

And now, since Susanna won’t have her Perfect Picture Book Friday link up, I’m reviewing a middle grade mystery I would have LOVED to read when I was a kid. The author is Jessica Lawson. You will meet her tomorrow on Will Write for Cookies. How special is that? I hope you will come back tomorrow…there will be a giveaway of a copy of the book.

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NOOKS & CRANNIES

Written by Jessica Lawson

Illustrated by Natalie Andrewson

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2016)

Ages: 8-12

Themes:

Courage, teamwork, investigative skills

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Clue when six children navigate a mansion full of secrets—and maybe money—in this “delightful gem” (School Library Journal, starred review) with heart.

Sweet, shy Tabitha Crum, the neglected only child of two parents straight out of a Roald Dahl book, doesn’t have a friend in the world—except for her pet mouse, Pemberley, whom she loves dearly. But on the day she receives one of six invitations to the country estate of wealthy Countess Camilla DeMoss, her life changes forever.

Upon the children’s arrival at the sprawling, possibly haunted mansion, it turns out the countess has a very big secret—one that will change their lives forever.

Then the children beginning disappearing, one by one. So Tabitha takes a cue from her favorite detective novels and, with Pemberley by her side, attempts to solve the case and rescue the other children…who just might be her first real friends.

Opening Lines:

 “Just past three o’clock in the afternoon, when schools across London were releasing much-adored children by the bucketful, Tabitha Crum was ushered into the cold as well.”

Why I like this book:

  • As I said earlier, I loved books like this when I was a kid…the girl who no one thinks much of is the one who perseveres and solves the mystery…a modern-day Nancy Drew.
  • Don’t you just love the names: Tabitha Crum, Camilla Lenore DeMoss: Countess of Windermere, Barnaby Trundle, Edward Herringbone.
  • I plan to send a copy of this book to my 10-year old granddaughter for Christmas…I think it is the perfect book for a delicious afternoon of reading.

PLEASE DON’T MISS TOMORROW’S WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

SPOTLIGHTING

JESSICA LAWSON AND A GIVEAWAY

But wait!!!!!! Don’t go yet!!!!!! Please stay and read my entry to Susanna Hill’s Mostly World Famous Holiday Writing Contest. Here’s a quick run-through of the guidelines: Write a children’s holiday story of 300 words or less, based on The Twelve Days of Christmas. To read the other entries, please visit Susanna’s blog.

 

TWELVE DAYS OF SURPRISES FOR SANTA (293 words)

by Vivian Kirkfield

 

On the first day of Christmas, Santa grumbled, groaned, and gritted his teeth. “Last night was too cold,” he told Mrs. Claus. “No more Christmas Eve deliveries for me.”

Just then, a package arrived.

Before Santa could open it, Mrs. Claus snatched it away. “Just some treats for the reindeer.”

On the second day of Christmas, another package arrived. Santa had already peeled off the tape when Mrs. Claus grabbed it. “Just some vitamins for the elves.”

On the third day of Christmas, Santa waited by the front door. He’d be ready this time. But Mrs. Claus had told the mailman to come around to the back.

For nine more days, boxes arrived at the North Pole. Santa always seemed to be doing something else when the package was delivered. Talking on the phone. Feeding the reindeer. Going to the bathroom. Eating a snack. Taking a nap. Reading a book. Ironing his shirt. Trimming his beard. Polishing his boots.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Santa came down for breakfast. He stopped. He stared. He sputtered. “W-w-what’s all this?” Instead of eggs and oatmeal and juice, the table was filled with presents. Twelve of them.

Mrs. Claus smiled. “You give gifts to all the children,” she said. “These are for you.”

Santa could hardly believe it. It felt like…Christmas. He opened the boxes.

Twelve woolen mittens.

Eleven quilted blankets.

Ten fleecy jackets.

Nine velvet earmuffs.

Eight hats with pompoms.

Seven red suspenders.

Six flannel nightshirts.

Five underpants.

Four knitted scarves.

Three long johns.

Two balaclavas.

And a super-duper heated seat cushion.

Santa tried on all the clothes. He tested the seat-warmer.

He looked at the calendar. “We’d better start making new toys,” he told Mrs. Claus. “I can’t wait for next Christmas Eve.”

                                                  The End

 

HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEKEND, EVERYONE…AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT. AND DON’T FORGET TO BE BACK HERE TOMORROW FOR WWFC AND A GIVEAWAY!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: The Color Machine

December is here, my dear friends.  I’ve always looked forward to this time of year – the joy of holiday celebrations –  the quiet moments of reflection as I think back on what I’ve done and look ahead to what I still want to accomplish.

But it’s been a very difficult year for our country. And there is trouble in so many parts of the world. Perhaps it was meant to be that I discovered today’s Perfect Picture Book when I connected with the author’s wife. The message is one of inclusivity and love.

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THE COLOR MACHINE

Written and illustrated by A.H. Taylor

Publisher: A.H. Taylor (2016)

Ages: 4-8

Themes:

Inclusivity, working together

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

The town of Colormazoo has been turned inside out, everywhere you look there’s a scream and a shout. The Color Machine has broken down and the townspeople march to the Mayor.

inside-page

Opening Lines:

“In the town of Colormazoo

where color is very important,

shouts of riot and rumpus grew

when the Color Machine was broken.

 

Why I like this book:

  • If you are a fan of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax and The Cat in the Hat, as I am, you will love this book.
  • The text is rhythmical and often rhyming…simple enough for a young child to follow along.
  • The illustrations are unique…bold yet simple line drawings.
  • I absolutely love the message – perhaps the answer to the world’s problems is for someone to break the world’s color machine – it certainly worked in the town of Colormazoo.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

Most kids love to listen to a story. But we can extend the learning by discussing and asking questions or participating in follow up activities. You and your child can:

  1. Draw a picture of a favorite character or scene from the story. Mount it on cardboard and cut into pieces to make a puzzle.
  2. Make a list of special words from the book. Older children can construct a word find puzzle.
  3. Think of a different ending.
  4. The author has made a free Kindle edition available for a limited time: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01N0K2R4Y/

 

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I hope you all have a lovely weekend. I’ll be working on my entry for Susanna Hill’s Holiday Contest. If you are interested in joining in the fun, click here,

A week from Saturday, we’ll be having a special Will Write for Cookies post spotlighting author Jessica Lawson.

And the week after that, hold on to your hats for the interview with Duncan Tonatiuh and a GIVEAWAY.

And the week after that…will be Christmas Eve and my son and his family will be here from Chicago! There will be lots of cooking and baking and smiling, for sure.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Bat Count

What a special time of year! For me, Thanksgiving is for bringing people closer together…and we all need that, right? I hope you had a beautiful day yesterday, whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving.

Working together is an important skill…we’ve seen lately what can happen when people don’t come together. What impresses me the most about this kid lit community is that many groups are formed to enable people to work towards a common goal. One of the new groups I am now part of is Picture The Books 2017…a group of authors and illustrators whose debut picture books are coming out next year. And one of those books is my Perfect Picture Book Friday selection for today.

But oh my goodness…as happens very often, first we need to make an important announcement.

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The lovely Susanna Hill has announced her famous Holiday Writing Contest. The rules are simple…a holiday story for children (ages 12 and under) that is 300 words or less. I’ll be participating again this year…will you? Joining in Susanna’s writing contests is a great way for writers to get their work out there and submit to a positive and loving audience. For all the details, please click here. And don’t forget, there are always GREAT PRIZES!

And now, thank you for your patience…it’s time for our #PPBF review.

bat-count-by-anna-forrester

BAT COUNT

Written by Anna Forrester

Illustrated by Susan Detwiler

Publisher: Arbordale Publishing (2017)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 3

Themes:

Family life, diversity, bats, animal conservation

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Jojo is prepping for an exciting night; it’s time for the bat count! Bats have always been a welcome presence during the summers in the family barn. But over the years, the numbers have dwindled as many bats in the area caught white-nose syndrome. Jojo and her family count the bats and send the numbers to scientists who study bats, to see if the bat population can recover. On a summer evening, the family quietly makes their way to the lawn to watch the sky and count the visitors to their farm.

Opening Lines:

“The sun is dropping behind the ridge and the red-winged blackbirds have quit their squalling, so I know it’s almost time.”

Why I like this book:

  • If you read the opening line above, you already know one reason why I love this book…the language is so lyrical…the author did a wonderful job of picking just the right words.
  • This is a beautiful family story on two levels…the little girl’s family who track and count the bats…and the bat family that they hope will be there.
  • Much of the story takes place at dusk…the illustrator was able to capture that low light, yet still give the reader wonderful pictures showing true emotion in the faces of the people.
  • I take my hat off to Arbordale Publishing…many of the pages are dark (see above), but they made sure to put easy to read white print in a large enough font that children will be comfortable reading. I can’t tell you how many picture books I am unable to read to my grandson because the contrast between the text and the background of the page is nonexistent…dark gray letters on dark blue background, for instance.

 

RELATED ACTIVITIES

  1. The back matter is excellent…four pages of learning activities
  2. More free activities at: ArbordalePublishing.com
  3. Find out if there are any animal count activities going on in your community and participate with your child.
  4. The book is a fabulous resource for elementary schools plus a wonderful story for every family. It launches in Feburary 2017 and is available on Amazon for preorder.

 

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill. Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. It will be December when I see you next.

December is going to be an exciting month…we have TWO Will Write for Cookies interviews AND giveaways. The first is with Jessica Lawson…and the second is with Duncan Tonatiuh. WOW!

And don’t forget Susanna’s Holiday Writing Contest.

To help start the year off, I’m participating in a Happiness Challenge for December: www.truly-julie.com/happiness-challenge

And I’ll also be making a list of the stories I think I’d like to write in 2017…for some I’ll just have a title…for others, just a topic. I’ve done this for the last few years and it really helps me focus and be more productive when I know beforehand what I’d like to be writing/researching about. I learned this from Kristen Fulton in her Nonfiction Archaeology class…but it works even if you write fiction.

In addition, I have work to do for the editor of Sweet Dreams, Sarah…I need to make a list of bloggers who will review my debut picture book or post an interview or Q&A...plus shout out on Twitter, Facebook and other social media when the book launches in the spring. It’s going to be a very busy time if the launch is on schedule because I’ll have just finished the #50PreciousWords Challenge. By the way, some of you have already volunteered to do a post in the book blog tour...please PM or email me if you’d like to be involved. And ditto for the #50PreciousWords Challenge…if you’d like to donate something (kidlit book, class, critique, art, etc), please let me know. My wonderful agent, Essie White, has already offered to do another critique as a prize…and if any of you remember, the 1st place winner chose that and is now one of Essie’s clients. I know it is not until March, but time has a way of sneaking up on us.

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