Friday, November 26, 2010

Have Yourself a Snowy Little Book Fest

(This is a piece I wrote for my four-year-old's preschool newsletter. I am the bi-monthly book editor).

As I write this, Portland is in one of its snow panics. TV types shiver on the Sylvan Hill, school closures cascade along the bottom of the screen, and the weather guys look like Christmas has come early, for the entire broadcast is essentially about them. Meanwhile, my friends recently transplanted from Alaska laugh their heads off. Ah, Portland winter!

It is entirely appropriate, therefore, that my first winter book selection is Axle Annie by Robin Pulver; illustrated by Tedd Arnold (Dial 1999). Axle Annie’s the best school driver in Burskyville. She does magic tricks, tells jokes, and sings silly songs. And whenever winter “packs a wallop,” the superintendent makes his school closure decision on whether Annie can make it up Tiger Hill. Well, “do tow trucks tow?” Of course she can! Burskyville never has a snow day. And even the villainous plot of a disgruntled fellow bus driver can’t slow Annie down. This is a fun read, with lively illustrations. The perfect present for the school superintendent in your life.

Another favorite in our house is Snow Day! by Patricia Lakin; illustrated by Scott Nash (Dial 2002). With a simple, repeating text and colorful pictures, it tells the story of four crocodile friends who love the snow. They get ready to play outside and then remember that they’re school principals. A quick telephone call later, they’ve told Croc-O-News that it’s a snow day. And off they go, sledding. Nicholas gave this his immediate “Read-It-Again” seal of approval.

I presented the kids with a whole stack of holiday books, but it’s like judging “Dancing With the Stars” at my house. Most of the holiday selection was deemed unworthy and, when the dust settled, only two titles remained. The first was Harry and the Dinosaurs make a Christmas Wish by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds (Random House 2003). This probably won votes on the title alone, since anything dinosaur is a smash hit where we live. Harry’s plastic dinosaurs (who come alive whenever Harry’s alone) want a duckling for Christmas. When Christmas morning comes, it looks like there’s no duckling under the tree. But Gran’s piggybank egg holds a surprise: a baby pterodactyl. This is a fun read, with a lot of dinosaur roaring. Grab a glass of egg nog and roar away.

Finally, Elsie Primavera’s Auntie Claus Home for the Holidays (Simon and Schuster 2009), is the latest in the fun Auntie Claus series. Young Sophie Kringle wants to be the Sugar Plum fairy, but she’s never in New York for Christmas. So Auntie Claus decides to bring the North Pole to New York. If you love saying “marvelous” and “rubbish” in an English accent, this book is for you. (It also introduced my kids to the phrase “red is the new black, darling!”) After I explained what that meant, everything has become “the new black.” So I’ll leave you with the words of seven-year-old Kieran: “Books are the new black, darling.”


  1. 'Harry and the Dinosaurs make a Christmas Wish'.

    I realised my book title is not appealing enough. So I have re-titled it to 'Brad and the Twilight vampires' with a subtitle of "Edmund has a threesome with Paris and Oprah using utensils and a goat".

  2. Dan, you are hysterical. Ever thought about stand-up comedy!


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