The Christmas Pine

Donaldson, Julia. The Christmas Pine. London: Alison Green Books, 2021.

A pine tree grows and grows deep in the woods until one day it is chosen to be a special gift: a Christmas tree for the people of London. Originally written as a poem to commemorate Norway’s annual gift to the people of England to thank them for their support during World War 2. 

Listen to the original poem on Youtube!

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A Long Road on a Short Day

Welcome to the first official day of winter!

Schmidt, Gary D. and Elizabeth Stickney. A Long Road on a Short Day. Boston, New York: Clarion Books, 2020.
Samuel and his papa set out on an adventure on a cold snowy day. All they have to trade for the cow needed to provide milk for the baby waiting in Mama’s arms is a knife. Will they succeed in their quest before nightfall drives them back to the safety and warmth of the indoors? A short 59-page novella illustrated by Eugene Yelchin highly recommended for readers 6 to 10 years old. Wonderful as a read-aloud or to share as a reader’s theatre story.

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The Best Christmas Ever

Ohi, Ruth. Fox and Squirrel, the Best Christmas Ever. Toronto: North Winds Press, 2016.
What makes a great Christmas? Snow! Presents! Fancy food! And a Christmas tree, of course. Two friends go for a walk in the woods to find more decorations in this cheerful picture book with full-page water colour illustrations. Highly recommended for children 3 to 6 years old.
P.S. You, yourself, might like to take a nature walk with a friend afterwards.

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A Busy Year

Lionni, Leo. A Busy Year. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2021.
Two mice – twins – befriend a tree on the first day of a new year. Every month – as the seasons change – they visit her and care for her until it is winter once again. A charming board book – with a humorous Christmas surprise at the end – recommended for children 4 to 8 years old.

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Prairie Lotus

Park, Linda Sue. Prairie Lotus. Boston: Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020.
Hanna and her father move to Dakota Territory in the spring of 1880. Her mother has died from injuries incurred during anti-Chinese riots in Los Angeles, and her father – a dressmaker – wants to start afresh in a new place where they will be safe. Hanna is supposed to stay out of sight. People tend to be cruel to half-Chinese and half-white people, and her father – originally from Tennessee – wants to shield his daughter and protect his business prospects. But Hanna wants to go to school. She’s a teenager now and has dreams of someday earning a graduation diploma. Will her father allow her to attend school? Will the townspeople allow her to mingle with their children? Will she make any friends in this new place? At the end of the book, Park explains why she modelled the setting of her story after the Laura Ingalls Wilder stories and how she, herself, has faced many of the racist attacks depicted in her novel. This 247-page award-winning book, printed in an easy-to-read font with widely spaced lines, is highly recommended for readers 11 to 14 years old.

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A Secret Shared

MacLachlan, Patricia. A Secret Shared. New York: Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2021.
Thanks to the wonders of DNA testing, Norah and Ben stumble upon a secret. Their younger sister, Birdy, is adopted. Should they tell their parents what they’ve discovered? Should they tell Birdy? This 145-page present-tense novel, printed in a relatively large font with widely spaced lines and short paragraphs, is a wonderful story for readers 8 to 12 years old. As with all Patricia MacLachlan stories, the language flows gracefully and the ideas linger in the mind long after the book is closed. Highly recommended, of course.

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I am Josephine

Thornhill, Jan. I am Josephine: (and I am a living thing). Toronto: Owlkids Books Inc., 2016.
A young girl joyfully explains how she is a living thing, an animal, a mammal, a human being, and simply herself. Along the way, readers are invited to identify various animals cheerfully illustrated by Jacqui Lee. At the end, they are invited to think about themselves and what makes them unique. An afterword, listing features of the various categories, will encourage further conversation. Highly recommended for children 4 to 7 years old. (But the afterword is useful for older readers, too, so this picture book would make an appealing and informative introduction to a middle-school biology lesson.)

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