Book Review Wednesday: Holiday Books

November has been dubbed Picture Book month. You can find out more, read about the importance of the picture book at this blog. Or you can take a look at the Picture Book Proclamation here.

I'll be using my Book Review Wednesday space this month to celebrate the picture book! If you missed last week, Sleds and Balloons, take a look.

This week, let's dive into the Holiday season with one Christmas and one Chanukah book. In order to be well-sold, a picture book should face out on a bookstore shelf. Space is short these days though, and holiday themed books have an even harder time competing because they have a very short shelf life in the bookstore.
 
Toni Buzzeo, a Maine youth services librarian, school presentation expert, and author, has had a long line of successful picture books. These include: Sea Chest, the Dawdle Duckling series, and a number of books that are set in libraries. I got a sneak peek at her January 2012 release One Cool Friend, when I went to a workshop presented by the amazing David Small (her illustrator for the story), but more about that later. Today, I want to tell you about her current release, Lighthouse Christmas.


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From Toni’s website:
Frances is determined to make Christmas jolly for her younger brother, even if it means joining family on the mainland and leaving Papa behind on their isolated lighthouse island. After all, would Santa even know how to find them in this faraway spot? But when Christmas Eve is ushered in on a wild storm and Papa risks his life to rescue a drowning man, the children realize that the most important thing about the holiday is being together.
 
As in all great Christmas stories, a happy ending is in store, and Santa finds them after all. Cozy and nostalgic, this story was inspired by the Flying Santa program, a New England tradition since 1929. It’s the perfect book for a family to read together in front of the fire on Christmas morning.
 
School Library Journal gives it a starred review:
“There’s a charmingly nostalgic feel both to the story and to the illustrations, which convey a sense of time and place and are very appealing. An author’s note gives a brief history of the Flying Santa Service, which was created in 1929 and continues to this day delivering treats to Coast Guard families. A lovely tradition and a lovely book.”
–Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library
 
Educators should take note that in addition to the back-matter regarding the Flying Santa Service, Toni also has a curriculum guide and a reader’s theater script for seven parts on her website. Take a look!
 
Erica Silverman gave us Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa, as well as Liberty’s Voice: the story of Emma Lazarus. Her recent release, Hanukkah Hop, illustrated by Steven D’Amico, is bopping, rhyming book that invites readers to a Hanukkah party.  


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The illustration are bold, bright and graphic and remind me of jazz posters from the 1950’s. This style fits the story to a tee. The book takes the reader from party preparation, to when the guests arrive, to games, and to a quick review of the Hanukkah miracle. There were moments when Silverman’s rhyme felt clunky, and I wasn’t sure where to put the stress in a line. A couple of times, I wanted to remove or add syllables.  However, she has a lovely refrain that keeps the story moving forward. Things really heat up when a Klezmer band arrives and the dancing starts.
 
All in all, Hanukkah Hop is a great read aloud for you Hanukkah party.

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