The Berenstain Bears Meet the Easter Bunny by Mike Berenstain

2 stars Children’s Level 1 Reader

I was looking forward to reading this book with my grandsons but I think we all felt disappointed in the story.   I was confused with the whole story and I thought the Berenstain Bears had better storylines than this.  My grandson’s (ages 3 and 3.5) read it with me a few times and boy, they had some questions.  They wanted to know why the Easter Bunny didn’t come the first time, where the bunnies came from when the Easter Bunny needed help, and where the bunnies were taking the candy at the end of the story.   From reading the story and the looking at the illustrations, I had no idea so we just came up with some answers together.   

The story is about Easter, a holiday that the Berenstain Family loves.   It’s Easter morning and the family can’t find any Easter eggs.   They hunt around the house and no one can find any traces that the Easter Bunny has been there.  That’s ok!  Papa Bear will dress up like the Easter Bunny and hide the eggs.  If only, it was that easy.

Papa Bear tries but he can’t take the place of the Easter Bunny so the family takes off to search for the actual Easter Bunny.   They locate his house and each of the children tell him that they need him, in their own way.   Why he didn’t come earlier, I have no idea.  He must act quickly if he’s going to try to save this Easter.

My older children grew up reading the Berenstain Bears so I was excited to start my grandchildren on them but this book fell short on my expectations.  I remember reading stories to my own children and they had life lessons or principles in them.  I still have all their original books.  I felt this book was self-centered.  I love Easter, I love candy and eggs.  I didn’t get any so someone get some for me.  Daddy tried but he didn’t do a good enough job so I’m still not happy.  Find the Easter Bunny and tell him I need him to get me some candy and eggs.  He worked hard.  I got my candy and eggs and now, I am happy.   That’s just my opinion but what about individuals who didn’t get any Easter candy?  Why didn’t the Easter Bunny come earlier?  Did he oversleep?  Could they have brought something for the Easter Bunny – a carrot, a scooter so he can make faster deliveries?  Not a good fit for me  2 stars

All Hallows by Christopher Golden

5 stars Thriller

Now, that was creepy good!  I enjoyed the intensity of the two storylines as they slowly built-up steams and I loved the intensity that swelled within this book once the festivities began.  I fell back in time as I read this book, back to the day when everyone living on your block was on a first name basis and most neighborhoods were safe as help was just a few feet away.  As one father and his daughter finished up preparations for their annual Halloween haunted woods, the rest of the neighborhood is getting ready for the annual Halloween block party.  Candy is stocked at the door for the trick-or-treaters and it seems like everyone has their night planned out, so they won’t miss a thing. 

Enthusiasm and excitement filled the air as this was a big night.  The haunted woods grew more extravagant every year and they were eager to see what awaited them this year.  The block party was a time for the neighborhood to come together and enjoy each other’s company, or at least that’s what this party had been in the past.    As the children start the night with their trick-or-treating, they encounter some costumed children they don’t recognize.   Could it just be the costumes that throw off who these individuals are or are these children not from around there?  It’s when these children start asking the neighborhood children for help that warning flags when off in my head. 

Sorry folks, your fun evening with your neighbors just got interesting.  What a thrilling read!  I loved so much about this book –  5 stars

The Barnyard Night Before Christmas by Beth Terrill

5 stars Children’s Picture Book

I like reading remakes of this classic and this one was no exception. I tried reading it to my grandson and it got a bit too long for this 3-year-old so we just looked at the pictures and I told him my own version of the story. He liked the illustrations and I saw him later take out the book and was looking through it and telling the story in his own words. In my opinion, that is what reading is all about, taking out a book on your own and going through it – no matter how old you are.

In this version of the story, Santa is “left in a pickle.” Santa’s reindeer can’t fly as they have eaten ‘too much sweet Christmas pudding” and Santa needs to leave for his famous Christmas ride. Back at the farm, the animals are all getting settled inside the barn for the night. Although the mouse wrote to Santa, there is a feeling of hopelessness that Santa will actually visit them tonight, as the animals think about sleep. Then, they heard something! Outside, they all rushed and, in their amazement, they saw Santa standing there in the pasture. He needed their help, but how could these farm animals do what eight flying reindeer accomplish?

What a cute storybook and using your great imagination, this storybook will become a favorite. The illustrations are just amazing!! The facial expressions and the details are spectacular. I loved how Santa was portrayed in the story from the illustrations to his mannerism. The rhythm and rhyme of this book worked without a struggle and I found myself bouncing along as I read it. So many stars and smiles for this book!! 5+ stars

Santa in the City by Tiffany D. Jackson

5 stars Children’s

Definitely pick this one up! I thought this was a great story as it answers many of those tough questions about Santa that children ask.  How does Santa get inside my house, if I don’t have a chimney?  The North Pole is so cold, how can Santa live there?   How can Santa be at the mall, at the animal shelter and be at the mall across town all in one day?  I thought this was a fun, adorable book about Deja who is concerned about Santa’s visit.  Deja is at that age where some of her friends don’t believe in Santa but Deja is looking for the answers to her important questions.  It’s all about his arrival and how Santa will find her on this important night. 

On glossy paper, this picture book has bright illustrations, I’m sure this book will be read over and over again as children explore the illustrations.  Deja asks a lot of great questions and with the easy-to-read text, the story was an entertaining and fun read.  5 stars

Merry Christmas, Gus by Chris Chatterton

5 stars Children’s

Gus doesn’t like anything to do with Christmas, not one thing. Gus is the older dog in the house while there’s a young puppy in the house also who is just thrilled about the holiday.  He tries to get Gus excited about Christmas but it doesn’t work. You can feel the difference in the energy between these two dogs in the illustrations as this holiday approaches.  Suddenly, Gus gets a change of heart and like a Christmas miracle, the tone of the book changes. The ending is pretty funny. With beautiful illustrations, this is one cute book!  5 stars

sometimes it’s TURKEY – sometimes it’s FEATHERS by Lorna Balian

5 stars Children’s Picture Book

A cute story that will warm your heart not just at the holidays but year-round. When old Mrs. Gumm is out hunting for wild mushrooms, she stumbles upon a large, freckled egg. Using her mushroom basket, she places some “fresh April grass” inside and she carefully places the egg on top.  Excited with her treasure, she explains to Cat that believes that she has found their Thanksgiving dinner and she proceeds to take it inside their house.   Mrs. Gumm cares for that egg for months until the day that it hatches.  Now, Mrs. Gumm must feed the little turkey so that it grows up big and plump, she is still excited about enjoying it for their Thanksgiving dinner.  This becomes quite the process for Mrs. Gumm: first the hatching and now, getting the turkey nice and plump.   Cat though, is right in the middle of this activity and is quite inquisitive as to what the turkey is up to. 

I think older, mature individuals reading this book can guess what options are coming towards the end of this book.  I think the way that the author chose to end this book made this book special.  That combined with the relationships that Mrs. Gumm had with Cat and the turkey throughout the story and how her original intention flowed throughout the text that made this story stand out for me. The use of the mustard and white colors might turn some readers off but I really enjoyed them.  I think a keynote to enjoying this book with younger children is to make sure that the child understands where their Thanksgiving turkey comes from.  I think it’s a great book.  5 stars from me and I’m glad that I stumbled upon it.

2 x 2 = Boo! A Set of Spooky Multiplication Stories by Loreen Leedy

4 stars Nonfiction Picture Book

 A cute picture book about math featuring some Halloween characters.  I liked the way the math facts are presents in the book, the repetition of the same number so the child can see a pattern taking place and I liked how the illustrations reinforce that same scenario.  I like how each chapter is devoted to one specific number.   The way that the characters try to explain multiplication is not confusing but give the reader a visual, a number sentence and an explanation.   Great illustrations also.   This book only covers the multiplication facts from 1-5 so don’t expect something like 1 x 7 because the highest this book covers is 5 x 5.  This is not a scary book, if you are worried about that.

Frankenstein Doesn’t Wear Earmuffs! by John Loren

5 stars Children’s Halloween

Ah, mom!  This book is cute, funny, and definitely a keeper! I think everyone will be able to relate to something that happens to the little boy inside this book and it’ll make you smile.  This rhyming book is geared towards Halloween, but it should be read throughout the year because it’s so entertaining.

On the inside book cover, there’s a play-by-play of a young boy getting himself all dressed up for trick-or-treating as Frankenstein.  Ready to go, the narration begins with a dark, spooky night which I imagined, was what the young boy was imagining inside his head.  As he emerges out of the bathroom, to head out into the dark and stormy night, he hears, “HOLD IT!”

It’s his father and he’s holding a pair of his old, red galoshes.  Afraid of rain, dad wants him to wear them.  O.K.! Wearing the giant, floppy boots he tries again to leave, when, “HANG ON!” Only this time, it’s his mom. She’s holding not 1, but 3 items that she wants him to wear before he heads out the door because she’s concerned about the weather. O.K.! Frankenstein is starting to look really silly now in all this gear.  This exchange between the young boy and his parents continues, the young boy just wants to have a fun Halloween.

This is a super book. The illustrations are fantastic and I liked how they flash between the boy dressed-up as Frankenstein and Frankenstein, himself.  The rhyming works throughout the book and ending was great. 5 stars!!

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by Emma Kragen

5 stars Picture Book

Super cute book! Each day of the twelve days of Christmas, the book features a different breed of dog. There’s a poodle, huskies, Basset Hounds, Golden Retrivers, and a few others. Each day, the dogs are doing something: there are dalmatians dancings and boxers boxing, etc. The book follows the same lines as the song which makes this book fun, if you know the song.

The pictures of the dog look realistic but the dogs are set in cartoon backgrounds. Sometimes the dogs wear accessories, like scarves or hats and they too are cartoonish on the realistic-looking dogs. It’s super cute especially if you like dogs. There’s a nice a surprise on the twelfth day of Christmas. I didn’t listen to the CD.

There’s an Elf in Your Book by Tom Fletcher

4 stars Children’s

This is an interactive book so get ready!  Do you want to be on Santa’s Nice List and get presents? Of course, most individuals would say yes!  If you’re one of them, whatever you do, don’t be tricked by Elf and do something naughty.  If you pass the test and end up on Santa’s Nice List, at the end of the book, you get an Official Nice List Certificate.  

Inside this book, Elf will be asking you complete a few tasks. Some of these activities will be cute and some will be “naughty.”  From blowing a Christmas Kiss (nice), to repeating a comment that Elf says that includes the word butt (naughty), Elf will give you a handful of instructions that he’d like you to follow.

I think kids would enjoy this book and I think that reading it to a group of kids, the reaction would be even better.  I don’t know how well the rereading of this book would be overtime as I feel the novelty of it would wear off. Perhaps if you only read it during the holiday season, it would continue to be a great read.