Sunday, December 17, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading? Christmas Chapter Books

It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It’s Monday! What are you reading? - from Picture Books to YA is a kid lit focused meme just like the original and is hosted weekly by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers. The purpose is the same: to recap what you have read and/or reviewed and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. Twitter: #IMWAYR 

We were busy reading Christmas stories last week, both picture books and chapter books. Here are a few of what we read:
Stanley’s Christmas Adventure (Flat Stanley Series #5) by Jeff Brown, pictures by Macky Pamintvan
1993, 2010, HarperCollins, 96 Pages, age 6+  
It’s two days before Christmas and while Stanley and his younger brother Arthur may be ready, it seems this year, Santa has decided to stay in the North Pole. He feels that people have lost their faith, and just don’t care anymore. Everything is finished and ready to go, so what to do? Sarah Christmas has the idea that if Santa met flat Stanley Lambchop, who had written him an impressive letter after he had been flattened, he just might be able to change Santa’s mind. “Borrowing” Santa’s sleigh and reindeer, Sarah heads off to the Lampchop home and eventually convinces Stanley, Arthur, and Mr. and Mrs. Lampchop to return to the North Pole to try and change Santa’s mind. Will Sarah’s plan work, since Stanley isn’t flat anymore? This was a fun story to revisit. It came out right around the time my Kiddo was learning to read, and she had a cardboard Flat Stanley that we took everywhere, taking his picture each time, as I’m sure many of you have, too. I sent this one to my Kiddo in San Francisco, for old times sake. You can find this Santa Flat Stanley and other templates at the original Flat Stanley Project HERE      

Nate the Great and the Crunchy Christmas (Nate the Great #20) by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Craig Sharmat, illustrated by Marc Simont
1997, Yearling, 80 pages, age 6+
It’s almost Christmas and Annie, Nate’s best friend, is worried - every year, her big, scary dog Fang gets a Christmas card from his mother, Mrs. Fang. But so far, no card has arrived and Annie is worried. Can Nate and his dog Sludge help solve this mystery? Off they all go to Annie’s house to check her mailbox, which is packed full of “what must have been the largest single-day collection of holiday catalogs ever mailed to one address…” Going through all the catalogs received for the last eight weeks yields some lost bills and a vet reminder but no card from Mrs. Fang. Could it have gotten stuck in the cat catalog Annie had given to her friend Rosamund? When no card is found there, Nate decides to go home and have some Chanukah potato pancakes and think. Could the past Christmas cards from Mrs. Fang hold a clue about what happened to this year’s card? Nate seems to think so. 
The Nate the Great books are perfect for introducing young readers to mystery stories. The plots are simple and easy to follow, the mysteries are age appropriate and the characters are really nice to each other. There are full color spot illustrations, and at the end of the book we have, there are pages and pages of activities, all relating to this particular story.  
Mystery at the Christmas Market (Pack-n-go Girls - Austria #3) by Janelle Diller, illustrated by Adam Turner
2015, Worldtrek Publishing, 124 pages, age 6+
Colorado native Brooke Mason is visiting her friend Eva Mueller at her home Scholss Mueller in Kitzbuhel Austria for Christmas. While waiting for the rest of her family to arrive for some skiing and a visit to the Christkindlmarkt or Christmas Market, the two friends notice a man wearing a red scarf and woman with crazy red hair taking photos of the Mueller castle. The next day, the Reds, as the girls nicknamed them, are on the ski slope and, riding the gondola together, they overhear the couple planning something that would involve the girls, a Krampus (a monster who goes after bad children) and the Christmas Market. But what? Does it involve kidnapping? After a day of skiing, the Masons and Eva’s grandfather suggest going to the Christmas Market that evening, but the girls aren't too keen on that plan. Sure enough, at the Christkindlmarkt, they spot a Krampus and take off running, hiding in a church until it is safe to leave. That night, the Reds follow their car home and the girls finally discover what is going on. This isn’t a traditional mystery in that the girls don’t solve anything, but it is a interesting story. And there are lots of Austrian Christmas treats and traditions mentioned in both English and German. It is the third Brooke and Eva story in the Pack-and-Go series, but the first one we read, and although the previous mysteries are mentioned at the beginning, it still stands alone rather well. You’ll also find explanations of the Christmas traditions (including a Krampus), a recipe for Vanillekipferl (almond crescents), and a list of German words with translation and pronunciation guide.

Ellray Jakes Rocks the Holidays (Ellray Jakes Series #7) by Sally Warner, illustrated by Brian Biggs
2014, Viking Books, 128 pages, age 6+
Christmas is coming and third-grader Ellray Jakes is pretty excited about that. In fact, that is almost all he can think about. But when his teacher, Ms. Sanchez, decides it is time to tidy up their cubbies and classroom, she lets Cynthia sort the class into working pairs, and that’s when the trouble for Ellray begins. He says he wants to work with Corey, that way they can continue the game they invented when Corey slept over Ellray’s house the previous Saturday night. But Cynthia pairs Ellray with Kevin, because they “go together” - Ellray and Kevin are the only two African American boys in the class. Now, Kevin’s feelings are hurt. The next week, each class is told to prepare something for the Winter Wonderland assembly, and that’s when Kevin decides that Ellray owes him for no wanting to work with him - and he sets three challenges for Ellray to do. But then Kevin throws in a fourth challenge that is  guaranteed to embarrass Ellray in front of everyone at the Winter Wonderland assembly and get him in trouble at school and home. Will Ellray take up the challenge or stand up to Kevin? Although on the surface, this is a fun book, it also deals with some serious issues about bullying, friendship and race.   

Christmas in Cooperstown (Ballpark Mysteries Super Special #2) by David A. Kelly, illustrated by Mark Meyers
2017, Random House BFYR, 124 pages, age 6+ 
Cousins Mike Walsh and Kate Hopkins are happy to volunteer to help wrap presents for needy children at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. To add to the fun, there’s pizza for dinner, exploring the museum without any other visitors and a special thank you sleepover for all the volunteers. Not only that, Kate and Mike’s old friend Big D, star hitter for the Boston Red Sox, also shows up with his friend, Jordan, a documentary film maker. But while exploring the museum, Mike discovers that the most expensive baseball card, the Honus Wagner issued in 1909 and worth more than $2,000,000., is a fake and the real one is missing. Big D and Jordan had been looking at the valuable card earlier, but could they, would they be so bold as to take the original Honus Wagner and replace it with the fake one? And what about other suspects? After all, Mr. Owen, the director of the Hall of Fame, had been the one to show them the card, and so was Grace, a volunteer there. This was a fun book to read with my kids, even though I’m not much of a baseball aficionado, but we all liked the baseball history, trivia, and fun facts sprinkled throughout and at the back of the book, and I am definitely going to try the included recipe for “Mike’s All-Star Blue Chip Muffins” which sound delicious. My kids are a little young to really appreciate a book about baseball, but not too young to read about kids solving mysteries, and as you can see by some their choices, they are really beginning to get into them.

Deck the Halls, We’re Off the Walls! (My Weird School Special) by Dan Gutman, illustrated by Jim Paillot
2013, HarperCollins, 144 pages, age 6+  
It’s Christmas vacation and A.J. couldn’t be happier - no school for nine days and now Santa is going to be at the mall on the Saturday before Christmas, and friend Ryan’s mom said she would drive them there - so the word was quickly spread to friends Michael, Neil, and Alexia. No sooner did they get to the mall, when they learned that no only Santa, but Cray-Z, the kid rapper with the hit song “The Christmas Klepto,” would also be there. The line to see Santa is very long and A.J. and friends decide to go get a present for A.J.’s younger sister, but on the way, they run into Craz-Z in the bathroom, A.J. and Craz-Z switch clothes, so Craz-Z can rest and hide from his adoring fans, and A.J. goes out a performs as the rapper. Dressed as himself again, A.J. heads to the Santa line, and when his turn comes, he asks for what he wants, and begins giving Santa the third degree. When he leaves, Santa’s beard accidentally comes off and his real identity is exposed - Mr. Klutz, the school principal. Running away from all the angry parents and upset kids, A.J. is chased to the food court, but runs into Cray-Z instead. Can Cray-Z repay A.J.’s favor and help save him? My kids loved this story, and why not, it’s pretty zany and had them laughing from start to finish. At the end of the book, there are a few pages with some interesting facts about Christmas, followed by some Fun Games and Weird-Word Puzzles, and a pretty funny section called My Weird School Trivia Questions (which my kids really loved).  

This week we are going to be looking at some picture book biographies and some stem books that are great for gift giving.

What are you reading this week?

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I had no idea there were so many Christmas-themed early chapter books. I don't keep up with these very much, but have loved Flat Stanley and the Nate books in the past. Thanks, Alex. Wishing you a wonderful holiday coming up!


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