Family Fridays – Pre Christmas Five

I hope everyone enjoyed Thanksgiving yesterday and has a respectable, but not overwhelming, amount of leftovers. Today is our last Pre Christmas Post! See below for links to all four previous installments.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is such a classic that it needs no introduction. So I shall simply say, if you don’t have the book, get it! (Amazon, Barnes and Noble) It’s really wonderful and you can find it just about anywhere. I think I used a coupon and got mine at Kohls for about $5 last year. I also really like the original animated tv adaptation (Amazon, Barnes and Noble). I don’t have that yet, but I’m hoping to add it to my collection in the next couple of years so I can enjoy it with my son.

Ok, now your turn! Which of your favorite Christmas books and movies did I miss?

To review, I’ve covered:

1. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and The Snowman (movie)

2. Merry Christmas, Ernest and Celestine and A Muppet Christmas Carol

3. A Little House Christmas Treasury and A Charlie Brown Christmas

4. Angelina’s Christmas and Claymation Christmas Celebration

5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.


Family Fridays – Pre Christmas Four

Here’s is the fourth in my Pre Christmas series. Have you started shopping yet? I’ve had my baby’s presents for weeks now. Not that I’m excited or anything…

Angelina’s Christmas (1985): Amazon, Barnes & Noble

I adore this book. The illustrations are beautiful and it tells a simple tale about wanting to make an old man happy for Christmas, which ends up benefiting everyone. It’s in the Angelina Ballerina series, but it’s not a girly book, so don’t hesitate to try it out on your boys, too. This is set in a small English town (Chipping Cheddar – hehe), and they say things like “biscuit” and “Father Christmas”, so depending on the age of your kids, you could also use it as a jumping off point to talk about different Christmas customs around the world. At least I hope that’s still the case and they haven’t Americanized it. Don’t get me started on why “translating” books between English dialects is ridiculous, unnecessary, and insulting to the reading public. Anyway, this is a charming, lighthearted Christmas tale, and well worth incorporating into a gift or new family tradition.

Claymation Christmas Celebration (1987): Amazon, Barnes & Noble

You have to buy this movie bundled with some other holiday Claymation specials (which I haven’t seen, but have heard aren’t that great), but it’s worth it just to get this one. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a collection of Christmas carols all set to really differently styled Claymation action. Some are funny, some are quite beautiful, and some are just joyous. The event is emceed by a couple of dinosaurs argue about the word wassail throughout the interludes, which makes for a nice conclusion as they end on “Here we come a wassailing”. I’m going to try it with my son this year and see if the music will be able to hold his interest (he’ll be almost one). He loves music and bright colors, so he might be able to sit through it, and it’s only 24 minutes long.

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.


Family Fridays – Pre-Christmas Two

I’m continuing with part two of our Pre Christmas series (you can see my twisted logic as to why this is ok here).

Merry Christmas, Ernest and Celestine by Gabrielle Vincent (1983)

It is perhaps unfair of me to recommend this book – it is out of print. But I have to. It is such a sweet, sweet book about love and family and friendship and poverty and joy anyways. I think the message in this book is so important: just because you don’t have money does not mean you cannot bring happiness to those around you. That’s a message for Christmas and the rest of the year. I bought my copy through Barnes and Noble’s marketplace. It is not in great condition, but it is certainly good enough to enjoy. I strongly encourage you to see if your library has a copy, or you could look for it used at your favorite used bookstore, (eBay for books), or Amazon’s marketplace. Caution: Happy tears may abound.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992): Amazon, Barnes and Noble

On the lighter side, I present to you: The Muppet Christmas Carol. This surprisingly good adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale is both faithful to the original and a fun movie on its own merits. The Muppets add enough comic relief to keep kids interested during the more somber moments. Plus, watching Michael Caine singing to puppets is a bit surreal. But anyhow, everyone does a great job, both puppets and humans alike. The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come part is a bit scary (as are the ghosts of the Marleys earlier on, but to a much lesser degree), so I’d recommend previewing it before deciding if your children are ready for it (it is rated G). This is a Must Watch Every Year in our household, and has been for decades.

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.


Family Fridays – Winter is Coming

The only thing that I have in common with or even remotely enjoyed about the Game of Thrones (review here) is the whole “Winter is Coming” thing. I absolutely love winter. I wait for it all year. Mid summer I remind my husband that it’s not too early to start planning for Christmas. I love the cold weather, the snow, Christmas, boots, snuggly coats, dairy free hot chocolate (I have an allergy – it’s a curse), dairy free molasses cookies, Christmas, my birthday, the smell of wood smoke in the air, and, most importantly, Christmas.

I won’t say too much about Christmas now (November is fair game though – you have been warned!) but, I do think it’s important to acknowledge the changing of the seasons, especially with children. I missed the first day of fall (Sept. 22 this year), but when I got back to Colorado there was a definite bite in the air and summer is definitely over (finally! It’s been a rough summer for Colorado between forest fires and flooding).

Here are three wonderful books celebrating this time of year:

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead (auth) and Erin Stead (illus) Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Full review here. This sweet, sweet story is one of my absolute favorite children’s books.

The Bear’s Winter House by John Yeoman (auth) and Quentin Blake (illus)  Amazon, Barnes and Noble

You may feel like Bear in this story if you’re hosting family or friends for Christmas!

Frederick by Leo Lionni Amazon, Barnes and Noble

I think this might be the first Leo Lionni book I’ve recomended, which is a shame. Lionni was incredibly talented and created several really wonderful children’s books.

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.


Family Fridays: I Lost My Kisses by Trudie Trewin

Guest blogger Stori shares one of her favorite children’s books!

Book: I Lost My Kisses

Genre: Children’s general

Ages: 2 to 8


Matilda Rose loves to kiss. But one day, something goes terribly, horribly wrong. She loses her kisses, just before her daddy is going to come home. Matilda goes on the hysterical and thoughtful search to find her kisses.

Matilda Rose learns that you can never really lose your kisses — they will always be there when you need them.


This book is so cute.  Just precious. No, it’s actually like cute married precious and then gave birth to I Lost My Kisses.  I find that as child reader turned adult reader turned parent reader there aren’t that many new-to-me books that I enjoy reading as a boring old grown up.  So often I find myself only reading my daughter books that I loved as a child because I still love them, but new books have a hard time piercing my cynical shell and reminding me of the way I used to think when I was little. At this point we have joined Matilda Rose on her quest to find her kisses at least a hundred times, and each time we mourn with Matilda Rose when she cannot find her kisses and no one seems to be much help. We get nervous as Daddy’s arrival approaches and she still does not know what kisses look like. And we rejoice when Daddy comes home and gets the big kiss that Matilda Rose has been storing in her heart for him all day. I know you aren’t supposed to say this about a novel not written by Josh Grisham… but I Lost My Kisses is gripping. You should see my nails – they are down to the nubs.

I don’t know anything about art or art appreciation and I have no vocabulary on the subject so I don’t usually notice or comment on drawings. I may embarrass myself here, but I really loved the illustrations. The pictures were exaggerated without being cartoonish, and I loved the minimal-with-the-occasional-bright-splash color scheme.  Toddlers love repetition and they will enjoy and soon be repeating Matilda Rose’s little song that she uses to call for her long lost kisses.  If your child is a little older, consider stopping at each point in the search and asking him or her what kisses look, feel, taste, and sound like.

I think I Lost My Kisses is Trudie Trewin’s only book sold in the USA, and I am hoping that she has more coming. As is typical for her age, my three-year-old goes through those monotonous stages where she wants the same book read to her over and over again, and as her primary reader, I actually enjoyed her “I Lost My Kisses” phase.  It is a very cute book that children and parents will enjoy, and the best part of the story is that you get to end it with your own big smootcheroo!

Get it! Amazon, Barnes and Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Family Fridays – Pigeon Series by Mo Willems

Book: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (2003)

Series: Pigeon Series

Genre: Children’s General

Ages: 2-6 years


When a bus driver takes a break from his route, a very unlikely volunteer springs up to take his place-a pigeon! But you’ve never met one like this before. As he pleads, wheedles, and begs his way through the book, children will love being able to answer back and decide his fate. In his hilarious picture book debut, popular cartoonist Mo Willems perfectly captures a preschooler’s temper tantrum.


As I’ve said before, every single thing I’ve read by Mo Willems, I’ve just fallen in love with immediately. The Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus was my first introduction to Willems’ work, via my (at the time) two year old niece – it was one of her favorite books. The simple drawings emote all the angst and range of a little one denied something that is obviously theirs by rights. It’s a fun, interactive story from start to finish. I have several books from the series and they are all absolutely excellent. They don’t need to be read in any order. While writing this post, I kept trying to pick my favorite to share with you, but I just couldn’t do it. I was able to narrow it down to four, but that’s just because these are the only four that I’ve read (so far!). So, without further ado, here are the official Lector’s Books top picks for the Pigeon Series:

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! The original! Amazon, Barnes & Noble

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! The puppy in this book is ridiculously cute. Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! Also appropriate for parents and/or grandparents. Amazon, Barnes & Noble

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? A nice lesson about sharing, being polite, and the deviousness of ducklings.  Amazon, Barnes & Noble

What’s your favorite?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.


Family Fridays – Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead and Erin Stead

Genre: Children’s General

Ages: 2-6


It was almost winter and Bear was getting sleepy. But first, Bear had a story to tell…

Bear found his friend Mouse, but Mouse was busy gathering seeds and didn’t have time to listen to a story. Then Bear saw his friend Duck, but Duck was getting ready to fly south. What about his friend Toad? He was busy looking for a warm place to sleep. By the time Bear was through helping his friends get ready for winter, would anyone still be awake to hear his story?

This endearing story of friendship and patience is a worthy companion to Philip and Erin Stead’s last collaboration, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal


This is a sweet, sweet book. Created by husband and wife team Philip (author) and Erin (illustrator) Stead, it is just a beautiful story. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous – simple, yet incredibly evocative. There are a lot of great lessons in here about friendship, caring, helping each other, and you could also use it as a jumping off point to talk about seasons, and how animals cope in the winter. I know I say this about many of the Family Fridays selections, but this really is one of my favorite books for this age group. I also have A Sick Day for Amos McGee, which is very good also, but Bear Has a Story to Tell just has a little extra something that gave it a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf.

Get it! Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Family Fridays – Babar’s Museum of Art by Laurent de Brunhoff

Book: Babar’s Museum of Art by Laurent De Brunhoff

Series: Babar

Genre: Children’s General

Ages: 4 – adult


Everyone who loves art, Babar, or children will love Babar’s Museum of Art. The old train station in Celesteville stands empty—should it be torn down? “No!” declare Celeste and Babar, who decide to turn it into an art museum. Their children (like many young museum-goers) have a lot of questions about art: “Does it have to be pretty? Does it have to be old? Does it have to make sense?” Celeste’s patient answers explain the basic ideas of art appreciation. Babar and Celeste’s generous donations to the new museum include witty and striking elephant-inspired version of Michelangelo’s Creation of Man, George Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, and Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, along with many other celebrated paintings. Children and adults will want to visit Babar’s Museum of Art again and again!


Here are some things I love passionately: the Orsay Museum in Paris, elephants, and children’s literature. This book combines those three things into a children’s book about great art featuring elephants housed in an Orsay-like structure. I actually came across this book first in a college course. It was essentially art appreciation, but the professors took it very seriously. We were to explore themes like “what is Art?” (with a capital A). I dropped that course. I don’t understand research papers based on subjective things like art appreciation. Fiction, I get. Research papers based on the physical or social sciences, I get. Fine arts papers, not so much. As far as I can tell it involves researching which noted scholars have opinions similar to yours, and then quoting them in MLA format. This might be part of why it became necessary for me to drop this course.

Anyways, the best thing that came out of that course was this book. It is amazing. It can be used up and down the age spectrum, taken very literally with the younger children (it’s a story about elephants going to the museum), then explored in more depth with older children (or adults). What are the differences between this painting and the original? What do you think of the answers to the young elephants’ questions about art?

The elephant representations of famous works of art are subtle and very funny. This book would be a great read before visiting a museum, during a homeschool (or any school, for that matter) class on art, or just for fun.

Get it! Amazon, Barnes & Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Family Fridays – The Relatives Came

Book: The Relatives Came

Genre: Children – General

Ages: 2-3 on up


In a rainbow-colored station wagon that smelled like a real car, the relatives came. When they arrived, they hugged and hugged from the kitchen to the front room. All summer they tended the garden and ate up all the strawberries and melons. They plucked banjos and strummed guitars.

When they finally had to leave, they were sad, but not for long. They all knew they would be together next summer.


Warning: reading this book may inspire phone calls to parents and grandparents or, worse, may cause you to take leave of your senses and go on a long road trip with small children. Proceed at your own peril.

For this Memorial Day weekend, I’d like to recommend The Relatives Came. This is a really sweet book about the love of extended family. It resonated with me as a child because although we never lived close geographically to any of our aunts, uncles, cousins, or grandparents, whenever we did get the chance to visit, we made up for lost time. It resonates with me as a new mom for much the same reasons. Although fortunate enough to live close to one of my brothers, most of our family is spread out across the country and beyond. When my baby was born, every single member of both my and my husband’s families found space in their schedules and budgets to make the trek out to meet him. All of those visits were so special to me.

The Relatives Came celebrates those people who are willing to leave hearth and home and those people who are willing to host lots of extra people, all in order to maintain and strengthen family bonds. The story and the illustrations both are beautiful. This would be a great book to read with a child before visiting or being visited by family, and would also make a great hostess gift if your family goes a-visiting.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an 11 hour road trip with a five month old to get ready for…

Get it! Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Family Fridays – Five of my favourite board books

Confession: I love books for babies. When I was pregnant, I wasn’t tempted by baby gadgets, nursery decor, or clothes (well, not TOO badly by clothes – have you seen those tiny little jeans?!?), but books were a whole nother story (pun definitely intended). I acquired a LOT of baby and children’s books as I waddled happily around Barnes and Noble. Plus, because anyone who’s known me longer than about two seconds knows that I love to read, I was given several baby books during my pregnancy. Needless to say, Mr. Baby has quite the impressive library for one whose main goal with books is to gnaw on them. There are so many great books out there for kids of all ages, but here are five of my current favourite board books for very young children, in alphabetical order.

1. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (1989) (Authors: Bill Martin, Jr. and  John Archambault,  Illustrator: Lois Ehlert)Amazon, Barnes & Noble. I think every kid should have an alphabet book, and I love this one. It has a fun rhythm, cute little story, and bold, easy to read letters. Because of the high contrast and clearly defined pictures, babies can focus on the pictures from a young age.

2. Little Blue Truck (2008) (Author: Alice Schertle, Illustrator: Jill McElmurray)Amazon, Barnes & Noble. I had never heard of this book before it was given to me as a baby shower gift. The style of the illustrations (which are lovely) will probably do better with toddler aged children. For what it’s worth, I’ve been reading it to my son almost from day one, but he doesn’t seem to be able to focus on the pictures as well as the other books listed here (he’s 4 months). I’m already looking forward to reading it to him when he’s older and can understand the sweet story and enjoy my attempts at animal noises.

3. Look Look Outside (2012) (Peter Linenthal)Amazon, Barnes & Noble. This is part of the “Look Look” series. It is designed to appeal to very young babies, with  simple, high contrast pictures. I don’t know the science behind how infants see, but I can say that my son was looking at these pictures much earlier than other books.  The only thing I don’t like about it is that it is VERY short (the whole book is basically a sentence – and not even one of my epic runon sentences, either!).

4.Paddington (Author: Michael Bond, Illustrator: R.W. Alley) – Oh Paddington, how I love you. I have a board book which covers about the first two chapters in the original, full length book. I love the story and the illustrations, and it’s nice to have a board book that takes longer than 30 seconds to read. If you finally get the baby settled and interested in what you’re reading, it’s annoying to have to switch books frequently. I looked for the version I have, but the only place I could find it was Amazon Marketplace. The non-board books can be found at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

5.The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969) (Eric Carle)Amazon, Barnes & Noble. I absolutely adore Eric Carle’s work. This was, in fact, the very first thing I bought when I found out I was pregnant. The story is fun, the illustrations are beautiful and richly textured, and it’s got different sized pages which will be fun for older babies to play with.

What are your favourite books to read to babies and toddlers?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.