By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: December 31, 2009

Congratulations to Jennifer M, the lucky winner of our Middle Grade Holiday Jackpot. She has been selected by the random sequence generator at
random.org, and has won the following titles from Random House:

Jennifer will be notified by email and has 72 hours to claim the prize. Unclaimed prizes will be awarded to an alternate winner. Thank you to everyone who participated. A very pecial thanks to Random House for sponsoring this generous giveaway.

Courtesy of Reading is Fundamental
Published: December 28, 2009

What’s Involved?
A home library doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive to provide rich reading experiences. Fancy books aren’t necessarily the best way to capture a child’s imagination. But a good family library does involve time and space—time to find materials that will interest all the readers in the family, and space to keep and enjoy them. Here are some questions that might come to mind as you plan a family library:

By Kristina Springer, for The Children’s Book Review
Published: December 26, 2009

Photo: Kristina Springer

Kristinaspringer Book ideas pop into my head ALL the time. And really, anything and everything can prompt them. My first book, THE ESPRESSOLOGIST, is about a barista at a Chicago coffee shop who discovers this talent to matchmake people based on their regular coffee drinks. People are always asking me, how the heck did you come up with that? And really, it just hit me one day when I was sitting in the local Starbucks. I was on a date with my husband and I was watching people come in and out of the coffee shop. I realized I could sort of tell what people were going to order. Like, that guy is totally a vanilla latte and that girl is such a caramel frappuccino. At first I thought I’d write a guide to drinks and the type of people who drink them and then I thought no, I’ll have a coffee barista keep a notebook of this and matchmake people based on it.

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: December 24, 2009

As the season of giving is reaching its peak, it’s important to remember that book donations are appreciated all year round and can truly impact a child’s life in a positive way.

Beginning this holiday season, The Children’s Book Review team has decided to select a different charity to donate books to each year. This year, as Luisa mentioned at the end of her The Giving Tree review, we chose the Pajama Program as the organization that we would donate books to, based on their worthy cause:

“The Pajama Program provides new pajamas and new books to children in need, many who are waiting and hoping to be adopted. … Many of them have been abused or abandoned, and have never enjoyed the simple comfort of having a mother or father tuck them in at bedtime and read to them.”  ~ http://www.pajamaprogram.org

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: December 23, 2009

Horrid Henry's ChristmasHorrid Henry’s Christmas

by Francesca Simon (Author), Tony Ross (Illustrator)

Reading level: Ages 7-10

Paperback: 112 pages

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (September 1, 2009)

Source: Publisher

What to expect: Humor, Siblings, Kids, Behavior


As per usual, Simon and Ross connect and engage even the most reluctant of readers to their bestselling “horrid” character, Horrid Henry. This time he is back with more despicable antics! Parents will only be relieved that their children are nothing like him. Christmas trees are ruined, the Nativity play goes to shambles, need I say more.

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: December 22, 2009

Mrs. Claus Explains It All: (At Last) Answers to the Questions Real Kids Ask!

Mrs. Claus Explains It All: (At Last) Answers to the Questions Real Kids Ask!

by Elsbeth Claus (Author), David Wenzel (Illustrator)

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (November 1, 2008)

Source: Publisher

What to expect: Christmas, Mrs. Claus, Q & A

Mrs. Claus Explains It All is a must-have for any family with kids that are puzzled by the magic behind Santa’s skills, or, for the kids who are on the verge of becoming non-believers. Its question-and-answer format is attractively presented with illustrations by David Wenzel. Each question is illustrated as a hand written note by a child—Dear Mrs. Claus, I saw Santa on T.V. and he didn’t look the same!—and each response is answered in a grandmotherly way: This must be confusing, with all the many versions of Santa Claus and the North Pole on screen and on stage, but that’s the price of popularity. …

By Luisa LaFleur, The Children’s Book Review
Published: December 21, 2009

The Giving Tree 40th Anniversary Edition Book with CD The Giving Tree

by Shel Silverstein (Author)

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Paperback: 64 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins (October 7, 1964)

Source of book: Bookstore

What to expect: Relationships, giving and taking

Not so long ago, I bought The Giving Tree on a visit to a great NY bookstore. I’d seen it before but never read it and thought it might be nice to read to my children. I based my decision to buy it on two things–I had a notion that it was an important book in the canon of children’s literature and I really liked the cover: a simple line drawing of a boy and a tree on a bright green background. Fast forward a few months and it has become one of the three or four books that *must* be read before bedtime. So I’ve now read it some 60-70 times, but here’s the strange thing: I’m still not quite sure what the moral of the story is. I realize that in this Internet age with sites like Wikipedia and Amazon and any number of blogs and review sites, I *should* be able to figure it out. But I haven’t yet and this makes writing a review a little more difficult than usual.

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: December 19, 2009

What little girl does not love My Little Pony? My 3-year-old sure does!

At $3.99 for the book—which is actually a pretty sweet, little story—and $4.99 for the Winter Wish Pony, this is a good value option! My daughter has a bunch of ponies, so, when she saw this book she was ecstatic. Character books are a great choice for reluctant readers.

My Little Pony: Holiday Talent Show