Holiday Round Up!

So many books, so little time…until Christmas!

There’s still time to find the perfect book for everyone in your family. If you’re wondering about new releases, here’s a selection of books that are holiday themed or just make great gifts!

Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki (2017, Candlewick Press, Middle-Grade Mythology)

norse myths

From the publisher:

Long-recognized master of Norse mythology Kevin Crossley-Holland pairs with award-winning artist Jeffrey Alan Love for an exceptional look at the Viking gods.

A collaboration by two talented creators provides the perfect means to delve into Norse mythology and pore over the enthralling exploits of all-powerful Odin; mighty Thor and his hammer, Mjolnir; and Loki, the infamous trickster. From the creation of the nine worlds to the final battle of Ragnarok, Carnegie Medal winner Kevin Crossley-Holland details the Viking gods as never before, while Jeffrey Alan Love’s lavish illustrations bring the mythic figures to life on the page. Readers will be caught up in the seesawing struggle for power between gods, dwarfs, and giants, punctuated by surprising love matches, thrilling journeys, and dazzling magic. With its well-researched, lyrical prose and its dramatic and powerful artwork, this wonderful gift edition makes the perfect book for both the staunchest fans of mythology and newcomers with no knowledge of Viking folklore.

Review:

For fans of mythology this is a fantastic collection! With striking illustrations and in-depth coverage of all the popular and less-popular Norse myths, this would make a great gift for a young (or old) reader. Comic book fans might also enjoy this as they learn more about Thor and Loki who have become exceptionally popular via movies recently. Highly recommended for readers ages 10 and up (This can certainly be given as a gift to a teenager!).


Harry Potter: Magical Film Projections: Quidditch (2017, Candlewick Press, Interactive Book)

From the publisher:

Using black line illustrations on framed acetate pages, this unique book allows fans to project their favorite scenes from the Harry Potter films at home with a flashlight.

The wizarding world’s favorite sport, Quidditch is a magical game played high up in the air with Quaffles, Bludgers, and broomsticks. This interactive book allows fans to project their favorite Quidditch scenes

Review:

This book is definitely for die hard Harry Potter fans. It’s more of a collectible piece than anything, and would be best for someone who loves Harry Potter and loves everything to do with that world. The concept is neat and the acetate pages do project on the wall when shining a flashlight through them, but the picture is a bit blurry if it gets too big. These could be fun if projected on a large piece of paper for children to trace the image or if a child was given more creative freedom and could paint a large Harry Potter scene on his or her wall. Overall, a neat concept best appreciated by the younger Harry Potter fans ages 8 and up.


Make & Play Nativity (2017, Nosy Crow, Picture/Activity Book)

nativity

From the publisher:

With twenty easy-to-assemble press-out pieces as well as the narrative, this book includes everything you need to bring the Christmas story to life. A perfect gift for the holiday season!

Review:

This book by Joey Chou has the perfect nativity set for little ones. Made of sturdy, laminated cardstock, children can pop out the pieces and put it together themselves, but it’s cute enough that it can be displayed alongside all the other Christmas decorations or let the kids play with it. If you are looking for a great way to share the Christmas story with young children, this book is the way to go. Complete with the nativity story, Christmas songs, and other activities, this is a book bursting with the true meaning of Christmas. Highly recommended for children ages 2-8.


Make & Play Christmas (2017, Nosy Crow, Picture/Activity Book)

christmas

From the publisher:

This innovative new activity book includes ten press-out pieces to play and decorate with. The simple die-cut shapes, including Santa, a reindeer, and an angel, are easy to press out and slot together. The book also includes lots of activities, songs, and recipes to help celebrate Christmas!

Review:

This Christmas activity book by Joey Chou is sure to be a hit with little ones this season. For road trips or Christmas morning, this book will keep children engaged all afternoon. The pop out pieces are sturdy and beautifully designed. Each piece has a small hole for thread or a hook so it can be hung on the tree. Adults will even want to join in on the fun as children ask to do the other activities in the book. Highly recommended for children ages 2-8.


We Wish You a Merry Christmas: Sing Along With Me! (2017, Nosy Crow, Board Book)

wish you a merry christmas

From the publisher:

Each book in the Sing Along With Me! series has five slider mechanisms and a QR code with directions for how to download both an instrumental and vocal version of the nursery rhyme. Simply scan the code to listen and sing along! Slider mechanisms on each page and cheerful illustrations will make these favorites for sharing. Sing along to the classic Christmas carol in We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

Review:

Another great offering from Nosy Crow this holiday season! This engaging board book is illustrated by Yu-hsuan Huang and features fun slider mechanisms throughout. These are some of the best slider mechanisms I’ve seen and they feel very sturdy and able to withstand repeated sliding by small, enthusiastic hands. The text is the first verse of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” which most children will be familiar with and will make for a fun sing-aloud. As a bonus, the book comes with a free downloadable song! Highly recommended for children ages 2-5.


The Twelve Days of Christmas: Panorama Pops (2017, Candlewick Press, Pop-up Book)

twelve days

From the publisher:

Enjoy gorgeous art by an award-winning illustrator in this enchanting 3-D rendition of a beloved Christmas carol.

On the first day of Christmas
my true love sent to me . . .

Unfurl a delightful accordion-fold book to find a turtle dove rising on the wing, a sprightly lord a-leaping from the page, and many more elements of the familiar seasonal song. Featuring the captivating art of Grahame Baker-Smith, this Christmas keepsake tucks back into a slipcase until the next holiday season.

Review:

More novelty item than book, this accordion-style pop-up story is a beautiful new way to enjoy an old carol. The illustrations are beautiful and the pop-ups add a fun twist. This would be best for people who love Christmas and love to collect books associated with Christmas, vintage items, or who love Christmas carols. This could be fun for kids, but the pop-ups would likely not fare well with very young children. The book comes in a hardcover sleeve and it’s small, maybe four inches by four inches. Overall, a fun and festive gift if you’re looking for a stocking stuffer that can be enjoyed every Christmas.


Thank you to the publisher for copies of these books in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: A Monster Calls

Oh my goodness, what to say about this book!

Firstly, I can say I loved it. And secondly, I can’t stop thinking about it.

This is actually a review of a specific edition…the newly released Special Collectors’ Edition and it is, in a word, stunning!

A Monster Calls was first published in 2011, but I only recently heard about it. I read a review on a blog I follow, and I was about to purchase a copy when the opportunity to get a review copy came up. It really seemed like it was meant to be 🙂

In anticipation of the upcoming motion picture release, the Special Collectors’ Edition combines the original novel with bonus material including interviews with Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones and Lewis MacDougall.

There is also additional material from Patrick Ness, Jim Kay and director J.A. Bayona.

The story behind the novel is as fascinating as the novel itself and I loved all the bonus material as well as learning more about Siobhan Dowd who drafted the original idea for this story but passed away before she could write it.

Drawing from Siobhan Dowd’s original idea and outline, Patrick Ness wrote A Monster Calls. Writing a book from another’s notes presented a daunting task and he worried about doing her idea justice. His goal with A Monster Calls was both to stay true to Siobhan’s original idea but not try to imitate her and instead write a story he felt she would enjoy.

I’m curious to read her books after learning more about her, and while I have no idea what type of book she would like, I feel A Monster Calls is a beautiful work and a moving tribute to her life.

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls: Special Collectors’ Edition (2016, Candlewick Press, Middle-Grade Magical Realism)

a-monster-calls

The monster arrives outside Conor’s window just after midnight. He’s just awoken from his nightmare, so he can’t possibly be dreaming, and this is definitely not the monster from his nightmares. That monster has tormented his dreams each night since his mother started her treatments, but now this new monster arrives and though it is huge and wild, Conor finds himself drawn to it. But the monster wants something from Conor. It wants something terrible and real, and Conor doesn’t want to give what the monster wants.

A Monster Calls, written by Patrick Ness and illustrated by Jim Kay, will draw the reader into Conor’s world with the very first line.

“The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.”

Patrick Ness writes beautifully, and every passage breathes magic. From the monster’s first words, to his last, he is a rich and developed character. This is magical realism at its best.

Conor is easy to relate to and sympathize with as he struggles with his mother’s illness. The interactions between him and the monster are moving, amusing, and at times heart breaking. Stubborn, willful, but at his core a very good child, the reader will suffer as Conor suffers.

There are not enough words to capture the magic felt while reading this book, and I think part of this feeling stems from the incredible illustrations. In this special edition, the illustrations are discussed in detail and I gained an even greater appreciation for the thought and time that went into the production of this work of art. For it truly is a masterpiece.  monster-calls-inside-page

I highly recommend reading this book, however I do not recommend reading it on an airplane, at the bus station, at work, ummm… pretty much anywhere you wouldn’t want to be observed having a good, ugly cry. Because if you read this book, that’s what will happen.

This edition would make a beautiful and treasured gift for any book lover in your life.

5 stars and more to fill the midnight sky

A Monster Calls. Patrick Ness.


The Movie

a-monster-calls-2016-trailers-posters

The movie released in Spain early in October, and in the U.S., a limited release of the movie is scheduled for sometime in December of this year.

The movie stars Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones and Lewis MacDougall. And the screenplay was written by Patrick Ness.

a-monster-calls-movie


Thank you to Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.