Saturday, December 6, 2008

Day of Kid's Books

Title: The Shelf Elf
Author: Jackie Mims Hopkins
Illustrated by: Rebecca McKillup Thornburgh

Because of the comment the illustrator left on this review, I have decided to reserve my rating of it until I have seen the book up close, as opposed to being read it by the librarian.

Grade: A-All ages

Yesterday we had a great day full of children's books. First we (myself and my three youngest) went to the library story time. The Librarian read The Shelf Elf, which, while not a Christmas story, at least referred to the shelf elf's cousin who made toys and lived up north. The main emphasis of this story is library etiquette. The shelf elf is in charge of making sure that there is order in the library, that the books are shelved correctly, and that they are put back were they belong, this by the patrons using shelf markers to keep the place of the book. The kids then got to color and laminate their very own shelf elves to use as shelf markers.

I'm sure the librarians would be happy if this little elf really existed. Though maybe he does, I had the most wonderful Christmas present from the library this week. They called me and told me that a Christmas book that I had checked out and returned last year, but that had shown up missing, and I had eventually paid for, had resurfaced, and that they had a check waiting for me. Nine months ago my eyeballs nearly popped out of my head when I had to pay $30 for a book I knew I had returned, but it was a nice little bonus now, this close to Christmas. Thanks Shelf Elf!

In the afternoon I hauled the three little ones to big sister's 'Read-In'. This is the monthly reward her teacher has devised for the children who complete their at-home reading minutes(200+ minutes for the month, Elisabeth had nearly 800).The children get to bring parents, favorite people, or well behaved little brothers and sisters, blankets, pillows, favorite books and stuffed animals and they all...yes, read.
I brought some Christmas books that we checked out from the library earlier in the day. We only got through three of them, because the little girls in the class congregated around Annabelle, my eight month old, and fought over who got to hold her. So I had to mediate by trading who got to hold the baby after so many pages. Anyhow, the books we read:

Rating: 5/5
Grade: A-All ages

This was definitely the favorite of all in the group. I enjoyed it myself. Even older kids, six and seven years old, seem to like very simple as far as picture books go. Minerva Louise is a hen who misconstrues all of the Christmas things she sees. such as the goats with fancy horns on the roof top; and the farmer with the red hat who falls down the well. In the end she figures out that this Christmas thing is OK. The children actually chose for me to read this one again rather than one of the other books I had brought.

Title: The Wild Christmas Reindeer
Written and Illustrated by: Jan Brett
Rating: 4/5 (five for the illustrations, three for the text)
Grade: A-All ages

Teeka has the weighty responsibility of getting Santa's reindeer ready for Christmas. They have been wandering free since last Christmas, and things don't go as well as she had planned. She yells at them and tries to force them to do what she wants, but they will not cooperate. As the days go by, and Christmas gets closer, Teeka learns the best way for a leader to lead is not by force.

As always, the illustrations in the Jan Brett book were gorgeous. I especially love the details of the Christmas countdown on the side of each page. The story itself, or the way it was written seemed a bit stiff and contrived: listing unfamiliar names for all of the reindeer, and then telling responses from each was rather confusing. The kids didn't really listen to this at all, but it could have been because they were distracted by the baby. (Ironically enough that same baby just got a hold of this very book from the desk where I have them stacked, and is trying to eat the pages)

Rating: 4/5

Grade: A-All ages

This was a cute book, done in bright watercolors. Simple and great for preschoolers. With each number the girl in the story does something to prepare for Christmas. We see her projects: cutting, stirring, writing, and the last numbers show the finished projects: cookies for Santa, pine cone and birdseed ornaments for the animals, etc.


The Book Chook December 6, 2008 at 9:41 PM  

What a neat idea to reward reading with reading! Also, i am laughing here about the baby being another book lover in the family. Eating books counts, too!

rebecca December 7, 2008 at 11:15 AM  

Hi Lisa! Thanks for reviewing The Shelf Elf! It was great to hear that a librarian featured it at a story time session. I hope sometime you'll check the book out from the library and read it with your little booklovers -- there are lots of tiny and unusual little pictures scattered all through the book, and the book's very last page has a list of all the things you can find. This makes the book more fun, I think!
A set of three new Shelf Elf books is coming out in the spring!
all best, Rebecca McKillip Thornburgh

Callista December 8, 2008 at 7:05 PM  

We have The Wild Christmas Reindeer from the library right now. My not quite 3 year old likes it. I didn't like the unusual names for the reindeer either although I did like that there was a girl near 'Christmas Town' instead of it being all secluded. Loved the pics on the side.

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