Puzzle Train Reviews: Christmas and Alphabet

Puzzle Train Alphabet by David W. Miles

Puzzle Train Alphabet
by David W. Miles (Artist)
5 out of 5 stars
This adorable puzzle goes through all the letters of the alphabet with beautiful illustrations of animals and items that begin with each letter. The puzzle creates one long train with the alligator conductor at the front driving the engine of the train.

Each letters connects to the next one by some action taken or item shared between them. “Newt naps in the nest for Owl. Owl orders oatmeal for Pig. Pig plays piano for Quail.” I love that this gives the child a clue about which letter of the alphabet should come next, and they can find the correct puzzle piece.

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Picture Book Review: The Robin and the Fir Tree

The Robin and the Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen

The Robin and the Fir Tree
by Hans Christian AndersenJason Jameson (Illustrations)
4 out of 5 stars

A fir tree hears from the robin about the wide world of men, and wishes that he could go on an adventure, but his roots keep in him in the forest. One day men with axes come to take the fir tree into town, and the fir tree is decorated for Christmas. After the Christmas festivities are over, the little robin looks for his friend and finally finds him cast aside for firewood. However the fir tree is content to have had his great adventure at last. The robin plants a pine cone from his friend, and a new little fir tree grows up in the forest.

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Picture Book Review: Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

Twas the Night Before Christmas
by Clement C. MooreP.J. Lynch (Illustrations)
4 out of 5 stars

This Christmas classic is beautifully illustrated in a new edition with artwork by P.J. Lynch. The well-known poetry about St. Nick comes alive once more when accompanied with such lovely illustrations!

I just adore this sweet poem! It’s never quite Christmas until someone says Santa has “a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.” This poem makes “visions of sugar plums danced in their heads” the rallying cry of all Christmas joy.

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my bookish friends! I’m drinking Abuelita brand hot chocolate to bring back the Mexican Navidad of my childhood.

I’ve had a wonderful Christmas Eve with my family, eating, laughing, talking, and singing carols together, with me playing on the piano and my brother and Dad on their guitars.

I’ve been reading Christmas stories to my little nieces and nephew, especially from this Christmas compilation book. My favorite short story in here is “Christmas Every Day” by William Dean Howells. What is your favorite Christmas story to read at this time of year?

Picture Book Review: The Three Wishes

The Three Wishes by Alan Snow

The Three Wishes
by Alan Snow
5 out of 5 stars

A young man living in the far North stumbles into a hidden land of summer where time stands still. He is only allowed to return to visit his family in the dead of winter each year, and he leaves gifts for them so that they know he is alive and well. He is given a magic feather that allows his deer to fly.

I loved this myth of the origins of Santa Claus told in an old-fashioned style. The story is so imaginative and charming! The plot is sort of strange, until you start to realize that all the components of the plot are adding up to the red suit and the flying reindeer and the gifts. Then it all begins to make sense, and it’s like a wonderful discovery.

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Children’s Book Gift Guide

Snow Globe Wishes: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1534110313/

‘Twas an Evening in Bethlehem: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0988451212/

Santa and the Goodnight Train: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1328618404/

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Picture Book Review: Snow Globe Wishes

Snow Globe Wishes by Erin Dealey
Snow Globe Wishes
by Erin Dealey (Author)Claire Shorrock (Illustrations)

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


When the biggest snowstorm of the year hits, one little girl is glad that there is no electricity, because it means that everyone will slow down and enjoy the snow. Her family eats dinner by candlelight, and snuggles together in front of the fire. They make a blanket fort, and sleep all together in one big mattress. The little girl makes a wish on a snowglobe, wishing for peace on earth. In the morning, all their neighbors come out to play in the snow and they join hands around a Christmas tree.

The focus in this book is about all kinds of people coming together in peace to enjoy the simple pleasures of life like playing in the snow. The mother and father in the story are a bi-racial couple. Their neighbors are all ages from babies to grandparents, and from many different races and cultural backgrounds. Even the cat and dog get along together and promote peace! Continue reading

Picture Book Review: Santa and the Goodnight Train

Santa and the Goodnight Train by June Sobel
Santa and the Goodnight Train
by June Sobel , Laura Huliska-Beith 

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

The children are climbing aboard the GoodNight Train on their way to find Santa on Christmas Eve! The engine runs on cookies and makes a jingle jingle sound as it chugs along. The conductor makes sure everyone has their ticket, their PJs, and a snug blanket. The train whooshes past gingerbread houses, candy canes, squirrels celebrating Christmas with acorn gifts, and finally finds Santa counting sheep as the reindeer take a nap. “Wake up! Wake up!… Next stop: North Pole!”

The story is told is delightful rhyme. I really liked the writing, and the poetry has good rhymes and a lovely rhythm in the meter. It’s very easy to read out loud, and flows off the tongue smoothly. There are also places where onomatopoeia is used to mimic the train whistles, “Whoooo! Whoooo!” Those things would be fun to read aloud with a child! Continue reading

Picture Book Review: ‘Twas an Evening in Bethlehem

'Twas an Evening in Bethlehem by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt
‘Twas an Evening in Bethlehem
by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt (Author)Sierra Klein  (Illustrator)

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

The child of an innkeeper in Bethlehem shows Mary and Joseph to the stable, bringing them some blankets and cleaning out the animals’ trough to be used as the manger for the baby. In the middle of the night, the child hears a baby crying and sneaks out to the stable to visit the Christ-child. Angels are singing in the heavens, a bright star shines over the stable, and local shepherds come to worship. The child is proud to be a part of the miracle of Jesus’ birth, and keeps the King close in their heart.

This book was so sweet and lovely that it actually made me cry while I was reading it! So adorable, it really touched my heart. Despite the simplicity of the story, it has deep spiritual undertones that are sure to speak to the reader in a profound way. Continue reading