PPBF: The Little Fir Tree

littlefirtreecoverAuthor: Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrator: Barbara Cooney
Publisher: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1954
Age: 3-7
Themes: trees, growth, christmas story
Opening: A little fir tree stood by the edge of a forest, a little way off from the great green trees.
Summary: (from my library catalog) A lonely little fir tree, standing by itself at the edge of the forest, has its life transformed when a father takes it home to serve as a living Christmas tree for his bedridden son.

littlefirtree1Why I like this book: I like this version of Margaret Wise Brown’s book out of sentimentality: my beloved school librarian, Mrs. Nurnberg, read this one to us in elementary school.


littlefirtree2Resources/Activities: take a walk in the forest and identify trees by their species and their age; discuss illnesses and what an illness might prevent one from doing; share your favorite Christmas songs.

littlefirtree4For more Perfect Picture Book picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.


PPBF: Christmas Is A Time of Giving


Author/Illustrator: Joan Walsh Anglund
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1961
Ages: 5-9yrs
Themes: Christmas, giving, traditions
Opening: Christmas is a time of giving. It is a time of wrapping gifts and making cookies….
Summary: the book is a collection of traditional and warm details that describe what Christmas means, or what it should mean.


I like this book because: I found this book of mine just last week I was sifting through boxes in my parent’s basement for things I could squeeze into my carry-on and take back to Colorado. I know I liked this book as a child because of it’s size (4″x6.5″), but also for the ink drawings that captured my heart: the character with their adorable chubby-cheeked mouthless faces dressed in the turn-of-the-century fashion, which I tried so hard to emulate. And inside were tucked a few of those attempts made when I was 7 or 8 yrs old.


Resources/activities: for any holiday one could make their own collection of traditions and what the holiday means for themselves and for their families.


There is no selection PPBF picks on Susanna’s blog today, but you can visit anytime to check the growing list – HERE

Count Downton 16* and PPBF: Christmas Lullaby


Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle): capturing him was tough, really tough!


Author: Nancy Jewel
Illustrator: Stefano Vitale
Publisher: Clarion Books, 1994 – out of print
Age: 3 and up
Themes: Christmas, nativity, animals
Opening: The donkey brought hay for the baby’s bed,the lamb brought fleece to pillow his head.
Summary: (from Amazon) A simple, eloquent story in rhyme about the animals that attended the Baby Jesus, illustrated with oil paintings done on wood; a work of art as well as an engaging version of the Nativity story.

Why I like this book: I enjoyed the very simple, almost soft spoken rhymes, but this book is absolutely beautiful. Yes, I was completely won over by the illustrations!

Resources/Activities: to be added later (little ‘academic emergency’ at the RoZo’s!)

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks and parent/teacher resources go to Susanna Hill’s blog – HERE

It’s a Wrap! – my holiday contest entry

Susanna Hill’s 3rd Annual Holiday Contest: Write a children’s story about a Holiday Mishap, mix-up, miscommunication, mistake, or potential disaster in 350 words or less. I managed 344.

Ah, Christmas! Finding a fitting tree, decking it out with ornaments we made ourselves, caroling in the freezing cold, stockings, stuffings, baking cookies – lots of cookies! Always a plate for Santa, his reindeer and this year, extra for my sister, Candy.

Candy loved wrapping presents. She was good at it. An artist! A master of folding and taping – any shape, any size. You name it, she could wrap it. We’ve always left it to her, and why not? It made her happy!

What she enjoyed most of all? Embellishment! Ribbons, bows, bells and gift tags galore! She made them herself, believe it or not, and you almost couldn’t tell, if it weren’t for the incident with my remote control car last year, but that’s another story.

The thing is, she got carried away. Literally. But I knew Candy didn’t want to wrap just our presents. And why let her talent go to waste? It wasn’t easy for my parents, but it made her happy! And they still had me. So we let her go. We didn’t try to save her as she flew up the chimney. Okay, I was the only one there.

But it wasn’t anyone’s fault. She was wrapping merrily away, maybe sitting a bit close to the tree, which was really close to the fireplace, and it takes a lot of ribbon to create a work of art, and who was I to ruin her fun? I got more ribbon when she asked. I was really helpful, she said. But there was a lot of ribbon! Candy could hardly see. And maybe Santa couldn’t see her.

And all that gum on Santa’s shoe? Who knows where he picked that up?

So, although I am looking forward to my presents this year, the ones from Santa addressed to me? Well, I might just leave them wrapped – a reminder of my dear sister, who probably wrapped them herself.  At least until I’m sure she’s settled. Settled down, that is. The extra cookies I’m sending with Santa should help.

Cookie anyone?

wrap_03-1Do go to Susanna’s blog to read the other entries – HERE

PPBF: Little Santa

Author/Illustrator: John Agee
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2013
Age Level: 3-5 (says Amazon – but I’d put that up to 8)
Themes: young Santa, North Pole
Opening: In the North Pole, in a little cabin, lived Mr. and Mrs. Claus and their seven children, Larry, Mary, Willy, Millie, Joey, Zoe, and Santa.
Summary: (From Amazon) Little Santa loves the North Pole. The rest of his family?  Not so much. So, when they decide to move to Florida, Santa is miserable. Lucky for him, a blizzard foils their plans. The only way out of the house is up the chimney. Up goes Santa, to look for help, and along the way, he meets a reindeer and a large group of elves, who are more than eager to join in the rescue!


Why I like this book: Simplicity, both in the illustrations and in the storytelling. His frowning family helps the reader identify with this cold and snow loving character in a red suit all the more. I could easily imagine where the story was going, yet I was excited at every page turn! And I know my dear friend Penny Klosterman just reviewed this last week, but I wrote this up weeks ago and it IS THAT GOOD – so pooh! And since there is no PPBF today, it won’t harm anyone!

Resources/Activities: Christmas books are not found in too many classrooms anymore. Debatable, but I believe too much political correctness wipes us clean of culture. But this is one that should be shared for ideas alone, especially good for kids who begin to ask why – and don’t stop! This could be a great lead-in to help kids come up with story ideas: imagine how any cultural figure, mythical or otherwise, started out.

No new ones today, but for other Perfect Picture Book picks with activity resources, go to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog – HERE