Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

Christmas Picture Books

It's been a while since I've done one of these, so I thought I'd take the opportunity (kairos for my Rhetoric students!) to share my top five favorite Christmas related children's picture books. For those who have kids, hopefully these will be some good suggestions. For those who don't have kids... you don't need to be a kid to like these books!

1. Who's That Knocking on Christmas Eve?
I love Jan Brett's children's books, and this one is my favorite of all. A boy from Finnmark is traveling to Oslo with his snow bear, when he seeks shelter from a storm on Christmas Eve with a young girl preparing a  feast for herself and her father. Unfortunately, the feast attracts the attention of some not-so-welcome trolls!

2. Merry Christmas Strega Nona
I've previously stated that Tomie DiPaola is one of my favorite children's book authors. In this story, the good witch Strega Nona returns along with her assistant Big Anthony. Strega Nona is counting on the klutzy and forgetful Anthony to help her prepare her Christmas feast for the townspeople. Will Anthony prove himself trustworthy, or will he goof up and wreck Christmas?

3. Cranberry Christmas
This is a great entry in the Cranberry series by Wende and Harry Devlin. In this story, Mr. Whiskers's grumpy neighbor refuses to let the children of the village skate on his pond. Even more bad news comes when Mr. Whiskers finds out that his nosy sister is coming for Christmas. If he can't get his house cleaned up in time, he's be forced to move to the city with her and leave Cranberry Port!

4. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and Other Holiday Favorites.
This book contains the familiar poem, the Nativity story, and a collection of favorite carols. Nothing unusual there. However, all the art is done by Greg Hildebrandt, familiar to Tolkien fans for his LOTR calendars. The pictures are amazing.

5.Toot and Puddle: Let it Snow
Toot and Puddle return for a Christmas adventure. Nothing too tense here. It's just a cozy and happy story told well.