Archive for the ‘gift idea’ Category

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Dear Hug Time, Will You Be My Valentine?

February 14, 2012

Title: Hug Time
Author: Patrick McDonnell
Illustrator: Patrick McDonnell
Best for Age: 4-8
ISBN: 978-0316114943
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co. (2007)
List Price: Hardcover, $14.99 / Board Book, $6.99

I know that a lot of people are not too fond of Valentine’s Day. They argue that it is some sort of corporate conspiracy– an evil marketing ploy invented to make us spend money. But don’t you fret, because I am not one of those people. And if you are one of those people… well… you should maybe still read this because it just might melt that cynical little heart of yours…

Homemade Valentine, next to a photo of my actual Valentine. (Please, don't sue me, Maurice Sendak...)

I love February 14th because it combines most* of my favorite things:

  • Chocolate
  • Flowers
  • Snail Mail
  • Super Cute Children’s Books!

The new board book format!

Patrick McDonnell’s Hug Time is the perfect book to read to your little loves this Valentine’s Day. This oh-s0-adorable rhyming picture book, which is also now available as a board book, follows a little kitten named Jules (as seen in McDonnell’s MUTTS comic strip), on his trek around the globe. What is driving this furry feline’s adventure? Why, only his desire to give the whole world a hug, of course!

“There was no one this kitten wanted to miss, so he made (and checked twice) a Hug To-Do List. He hugged his best friends, Mooch, Noodles, and Earl, a butterfly, buttercups, a little gray squirrel. He hugged all the birds he could find in the park. So many to hug before it got dark! Jules jumped on a boat and set out to sail and soon he spotted a big blue tail… attached to a huggable BIG blue whale**”

McDonnell’s writing is simple and sweet. His soft rhymes have a natural flow to them, which make the book perfect for reading out loud (just ask my friends… they’ve all sat patiently to hear it from me at least once). And the story’s soothing message of peace and love is ideal for a cozy bedtime setting. McDonnell introduces his readers to the most lovable, and empathetic, little kitten. And Jules’ genuine care for this world is not only heartwarming, it is also inspiring.

“The boat docked in Africa and Jules kissed the ground– the earth so precious, so fragile, so round. He hugged an elephant and a chimpanzee… a giraffe, a hippo, and a baobab tree. Exploring the rain forest by foot and canoe, Jules discovered a species brand-new. Kneeling, he whispered, ‘We welcome you.'”

Of course, McDonnell’s illustrations are what really make this story a smash. With so few words, each page of colorful drawings is what really carries the reader along Jules’ journey. McDonnell’s strokes may seem simple, but they create so much life. Each of the animals that Jules encounters seems to be more animated than the last. Please pay particular attention to each animal’s facial expression, like the lion’s below. Every animal’s demeanor is different, and yet they are all adorable. With just a few lines, McDonnell can create an exceedingly life-like expression of calm, delight, surprise, or indifference (as with the giraffe, who seems entirely unfazed by the little kitten clutching his nose in a hug). Each animal is beautifully depicted, and each page presents something lovely for little eyes to devour. Honestly, if I could have any of these pages framed for my wall at home, I would do so immediately.

So this Valentine’s Day, instead of those gross conversation hearts, treat the little ones that you care about to Hug Time!

I’m sending love to you all! Thank you for reading!

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Notes:

* If Valentine’s Day somehow included whales and Jane Austen, I would probably die of happiness…

** Ah ha! This Valentine’s Day DOES include a whale! Wait ’til you see the illustration of Jules trying to hug a giant blue whale… le sigh…

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Like Patrick McDonnell? Check out what I have to say about one of his other books, Me… Jane.
 
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Holiday Gift Guide: Season’s Readings!

December 14, 2011

Sometimes, I get the sneaky feeling that the majority of book-buyers out there think How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Polar Express are the only two Holiday titles in existence…

Don’t get me wrong, I love How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I actually had it memorized for a few years when I was little because I would listen to the book-on-tape every night before bed. And, well, I think the jury is still out on Polar Express… maybe my parents ingrained “stranger danger” into me too well or something… seriously though, does no one else think it’s weird that the little boy just hops on board a random train that pulls into his yard?

My point is, there are so many fantastic Christmas and Holiday themed picture books out there! Here are just a few of my favorites:

Olivia Helps with Christmas (Hardcover, $18.99): Who doesn’t love Olivia? As equal parts Ramona Quimby, Eloise, and Curious George, dear old Olivia is a wee bit sassy, pretty darn stubborn, remarkably creative and, unfortunately, incessantly “helpful” in all of the wrong ways. Ian Falconer’s witty text and mixed-medium illustrations are entertaining for parents and children alike. And the fold-out page in the middle that display’s Olivia’s method of decorating the dinner table will have you laughing out loud.

Bear Stays Up for Christmas (Hardcover, $16.95 / Board Book, $7.99): You may recall my minor obsession with bears (see prior post on Very Hairy Bear). Well, Karma Wilson has a whole picture book series about an adorable bear and all of his woodland-creature friends. Though Wilson’s simple rhyming narratives are well written, and perfect for reading out loud to little ones, it is Jane Chapman’s illustrations that make this series really stand out. Bear Stays Up for Christmas is just as sweet as the rest of the books in the series, but I think this is my favorite because it really highlights the importance of friendship, and spending time with one another, during the holidays. I’m warning you though… it is dangerously adorable…

Santa Claus: The World’s Number One Toy Expert (Hardcover, $16.00 / Paperback, $6.99): While often overlooked, Marla Frazee’s silly Santa book is my latest (and greatest) discovery. Though it was published in 2005, I just got my hands on a copy and I don’t ever want to let it go. Readers will love this original, and entertaining, look at all of the hard work Santa puts in before Christmas, as he tries to find the perfect gift for each boy and girl. Frazee’s illustrations are vibrant, playful, and wonderfully detailed! Whether it is the mini file folders where Santa keep all of his post-it notes, the ever-growing mass of cocoa mugs that litter each page, or the back-brace and walkie-talkie that Saint Nick dons in his warehouse, adults and kids will love to look for all of Frazee’s fun details in this hilarious holiday find. *This book is also available as a “Send -A-Story,” a cute little paperback storybook that you can throw a stamp on and mail directly to a friend!

Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas (Hardcover, $17.99): If you are looking to get glamorous, and expand your vocabulary this Christmas, check out Fancy Nancy. A crowd favorite among little girls right now, Nancy loves everything to be fancy, including the way she speaks. Nancy teaches her readers elevated language on the sly, “I love Christmas so much. It is important to find a tree with a wonderful aroma (That’s a fancy word for smell). I think bigger is always better, but my dad says we must compromise. That means we end up with the tree my mom wants.” Author Jane O’Conner presents readers with a great story about how to make any Christmas splendiferous, even when things go wrong. And Robin Preiss Glasser’s intricate and elegant illustrations will have little ones oo-ing and awe-ing for hours.

Christmas Cookies: Bite Sized Holiday Lessons (Hardcover, $12.99): Follow up Fancy Nancy with another sneaky way to introduce new vocabulary. Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s holiday follow-up to her earlier book Cookies: Bite Sized Life Lessons, teaches little ones the meaning of words like “celebrate,” “tradition,” and “appreciative” through baking. “Tradition means each year at the same time we make the same cookies and wear our special matching aprons.” Jane Dyer’s illustrations of cherubic children and anthropomorphic animals are as sweet as Rosenthal’s words. And the recipe to make your own sugar cookies, located in the back of the book, is also wonderful touch.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama (Hardcover, $17.99): If you are looking for something slightly sillier, pick up Anna Dewdney’s latest book in her Llama Llama series. Though a bit repetitive, this is a great rhyming book for early readers to practice on this holiday. Kids love Llama Llama, and can relate to his total and complete impatience for Christmas to arrive. But in the end, a cuddle from Mama Llama reminds him that “Gifts are nice, but there’s another: The true gift is, we have each other.”

So this holiday season, give that old Grinch a rest and reach for something new! And don’t forget to support your local independent booksellers if you can!

From my bookshelves to yours, Season’s Readings!

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Holiday Gift Guide: Out of Print Clothing

December 10, 2011

It is that time of year again folks. Time to make your list, check it twice, and freak out about how on earth you are going to think of gifts for everyone on said list. Well dear friends, I bring good news (of great joy), Out of Print Clothing recently launched their new Children’s Line !

What does this mean? What am I saying? How is this helpful? Let me explain…

Out of Print Clothing is a [really wonderful] company that makes t-shirts, sweatshirts, iphone cases, tote bags, stationary, journals, etc., using the classic cover art from all of your old favorite books. Now, it is every literature geek’s dream to be fully decked out, from head to toe, in their favorite authors, and Out of Print is making that dream a reality. I own the Pride & Prejudice t-shirt (obviously), as well as the ridiculously comfortable Catcher in the Rye fleece. Not to mention that their Great Gatsby tote-bag, and Wonderful Wizard of Oz long-sleeved tee are on my personal Christmas wish-list. And what is even more wonderful is that, for every item you purchase, Out of Print donates one book to a community in need through Books for Africa.

I had the amazing opportunity to speak with the co-founder of this fabulous company last spring, to help their team narrow down the list of Children’s titles for their new and improved Kids’ line. We discussed old classics, new favorites, and everything in between.

And I am so excited to announce that the updated line for little ones has officially launched! I couldn’t be more pleased with Out of Print’s final collection of tees. It is so exciting to see so many familiar titles! I love how they chose a wide variety of old and new favorites; from Charlotte’s Web, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Corduroy, to In the Night Kitchen and Olivia. 

Fun Fact: Did you know that this picture book was banned in parts of the U.S. because the Police are depicted as pigs?

"Miss Binney stood in front of her class and began to read aloud from Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, a book that was a favorite of Ramona's because, unlike so many books for her age, it was neither quiet and sleepy nor sweet and pretty" - Ramona the Pest

 

So if you are searching for great gifts to give to the little (or big) bookworms in your life, look no further than Out of Print!

Not only will you give them the opportunity to wear their favorite titles, you will also be giving them quality products & comfortable clothes, as well as the satisfaction of donating a book to a community in need!