Christmas in the Country is a picture book full of Cynthia Rylant’s remembrances of Christmases in the country where she lived with her grandparents when she was young. From stringing lights, to singing in the choir in the church at the bottom of the hill, to writing a letter to Santa on Christmas Eve – the traditions remembered are not unusual, but they are so lovingly evoked with Rylant’s sweet, simple prose and Diane Good’s soft ink and watercolor illustrations. Reading this book with loved ones will be a sweet celebration of the season, and may prompt a conversation about your own Christmases past. If you are feeling at all harried or overwhelmed with all you have to accomplish this holiday, this book may inspire you to slow down and remember all the simple joys the season offers.
Posted by: Parry
It seems like every year at this time, I assert once again that winter is the best time for slightly creepy stories — it’s cold outside, and we all like to huddle by the fire (or the radiator), feeling cozy and protected. A spooky mystery can add to that feeling of coziness — weird things are happening out THERE, but in HERE I’m nice and warm.
Greenglass House takes place right before a freezing cold, snowy Christmas. Milo is happy to have his loving innkeeper parents to himself for once, and planning to laze about over the school break. Unexpectedly, and at a time of year when this NEVER happens, the inn fills up with guests. And not just any guests: shifty guests. Shady guests. Guests who seem to be hiding something (or who are just plain unpleasant). It’s an open secret that Milo’s parents’ inn is friendly to smugglers, but do the guests know that? Is that why they’re there at such an odd time? Can anyone be trusted? And that’s before the mysterious thefts start, or the electricity fails due to sabotage Not to mention the ice storm! Milo’s parents and the cook are run off their feet, and Milo is either ignored or needed to help out. So much for Christmas!
Luckily for Milo, the cook’s younger daughter, Meddy, hitched a ride with her mom, so he has someone to talk to. She introduces him to the role-playing game Odd Trails, one that his father used to play when he was Milo’s age. Milo’s game character is braver (and tricksier!) than Milo himself, and their games are a great cover for an investigation into the thefts and sabotage. Do the guests have anything to do with the most famous historical owner of the house? What do they really want? And what significance is there in the guest that arrives on Christmas Eve itself?
Greenglass House is one of the best books I’ve read all year—it was enthralling, amusing, and emotionally affecting, with stellar, atmospheric prose. I’ve been able to recommend it to both adults and children, and everyone who has read it has loved it. If you love Greenglass House as much as I did, check out any of Kate Milford’s other books. None of them are as cold and wintery, but we have them all here at the library, and they’re all truly wonderful.
Posted by: Sarah
The Thanksgiving season is the perfect time to share an appreciation for food and cooking with kids. It is a time to be grateful for the food we have that nourishes us, and to share with others who don’t have as much. If you’re looking for inspiration, I have a book recommendation for you! With his signature folk-art illustrations, Tomie DePaola’s picture book Pascual and the Kitchen Angels recounts the legend of San Pascual, known to many Catholics (especially in Spain and Latin America) as the patron saints of cooks and the kitchen.
Pascual was born in 16th century Spain and was very devout from a young age. After working as a shepherd for most of his young life, he left home to become a Franciscan friar so he could help feed the poor. Because he had no formal education, the friars accepted him as a lay brother and he was assigned the task of cooking for the brothers. The trouble was, Pascual knew nothing about cooking! According to the legend that DePaola recounts, Pascual prayed to God for help, and angels came down from heaven and cooked a delicious meal fit for the friars. So, Pascual was able to fulfill his kitchen duties while never ceasing to pray.
San Pascual is known for living a life of prayer, humility, and service to others. The legend of his miraculous cooking is inspiring – it reminds us that cooking and eating can transcend the ordinary and become something that truly nourishes our souls and allows us to give to others.
Posted by: Parry
Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. One of my favorite Thanksgiving stories to share is Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes. This simple story is told in rhyme and features a boy and a girl sharing the things that they are grateful for. It is a great book to read before talking to little ones about the things they are thankful for in their lives. Preschoolers will enjoy looking at the beautiful, detailed illustrations and can relate to the children in the story.
Posted by: Liz
Just in time for autumn and Halloween, Penguin is back. This time Penguin is off on an adventure to find out what fall is like. Unfortunately, her little brother, Pumpkin, is too small to make the journey. But Penguin doesn’t forget about him and brings him back a little bit of fall.
Not only is this a story about the season but of sibling relationships as well. The cute illustrations share some of the joys of autumn. While Penguin and Pinecone is still my favorite in this series, I love the ending image of snowing leaves in this title.
Posted by: Liz
Some days it seems that everything just goes wrong. That is exactly what happened one Thanksgiving for the Tappleton family. Like many families, the Tappletons look forward to a special turkey dinner with all the trimmings that they enjoy sharing with other relatives.
Unfortunately, the meal preparation doesn’t go as planned. First thing in the morning the turkey slides out the back door and plops into the pond – so no turkey! Next, the bakery runs out of pies – so no dessert! The salad vegetables have all been taken and fed to the classroom rabbits and a blender mishap ends with the mashed potatoes splattered all over the kitchen. So no trimmings! Dinner is a disaster with a capital D!
What will the Tappletons serve their hungry relatives? It could it be they discover that Thanksgiving is a whole lot more than just the traditional foods we eat.
This humorous, yet heartwarming, book is sure to be a family favorite year after year.
Posted by: Wendy