Picture Book Review: Santa’s Secret

Santa's Secret by Denise Brennan-Nelson
Santa’s Secret
by Denise Brennan-Nelson,  Deborah Melmon (Illustrations)

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

One little girl is on a mission to discover who Santa really is. Is it the Santa in the mall, the Santa from the Christmas Parade, or the Santa with a bell and a donation bucket? Or could it be a bearded old man in a coffee shop? With notebook and pencil, she asks penetrating questions as she sleuths around to find the answers. Can she crack the case and discover the REAL Santa?

The illustrations are colorful and festive, with a charming pencil style. The background of each page has interesting details that add to the story. For instance, the Santa in the mall has “Peppermint Beard Oil” stashed behind his Santa chair, along with a book about “How to be a Good Listener” and a toy catalog. So cute! Those details really make this story special. Continue reading

Picture Book Review: Peppa Pig and the Christmas Play

Peppa Pig and the Christmas Play by Candlewick Press
Peppa Pig and the Christmas Play
by Candlewick Press

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Peppa and her school class are planning their Christmas play. Peppa wants to be a Christmas fairy in the play, and she invites Santa to attend at the school along with all the parents. But Santa is very busy. The schoolmates see him at malls, grocery stores, garden centers, and even at the tree shop. Peppa is sure he will be able to come to their school play, but Madame Gazelle, their teacher, warns Peppa that Santa might not come. The show must go on, even if Santa doesn’t make an appearance.

This adorable picture book has a simple storyline perfect for little children. The writing is easy to read and excellent for beginning readers.

The first part of the story describes what each of the schoolmates will be for the school play, and all the animals prepare their costumes as snowflakes, reindeer, elves, a Christmas tree, and a Christmas star. Suzy Sheep wants to be a Christmas nurse, so she can doctor anyone who is sick at the play! It’s so cute! Continue reading

Picture Book Review: Wishing You Blessings from A to Z

Wishing You...Blessings from A to Z by Sandi Gore Evans
Wishing You…Blessings from A to Z
by Sandi Gore Evans

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


This Christmas book goes from A to Z as snowmen characters demonstrate the joys and delights of Christmas. A is the “aroma of a warm cup of cocoa,” while C is for the “cookies, candy, and snow cones shared with a friend”, and I is for the “incredible snowflakes”. Each page features snowmen and snow-women singing carols, toasting marshmallows, putting on mittens and scarves, and decorating their Christmas trees.

The artwork is adorable! Such cute little snowmen in sweet hats and coats with lots of Christmas decorations around them. The colors are very festive! But a couple of the illustrations are used twice, and XYZ are lumped together on one page with “Yuletide blessings” making do for all three letters. Continue reading

Book Review: The First Christmas Sweater

The First Christmas Sweater by Ryan Tubridy
The First Christmas Sweater (and the Sheep Who Changed Everything)
by Ryan Tubridy

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

The rumor around the sheep farm is that Santa is looking for a special sheep to provide the wool to make the first Christmas sweater. Hillary is a rainbow-colored sheep who loves to make lists, and especially loves Christmas, but will her strangely-colored wool eliminate her from being able to donate her wool to Santa?

Each of the sheep in this Irish sheep farm have their own personalities and quirks. Hillary has many friends, but one of the sheep, Brian, is just annoying with his dumb jokes and “ewe” puns. Hillary spends her time daydreaming about Christmas, but Brian keeps interrupting her with boring small talk. Hillary would rather gossip with her bird friend, Didya, who is always asking “Didya know this? Didya know that?” and telling her all the news.

I loved all the sheep characters! They are so funny and cute. I could really imagine all their Irish accents. The plot is entertaining, and the writing is playful. There are many sheep puns, and several pages full of sheep jokes at the end of the book. Continue reading

Picture Book Review: Little Robin’s Christmas

Little Robin's Christmas by Jan Fearnley
Little Robin’s Christmas
by Jan Fearnley

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Little Robin has seven beautiful vests to keep him warm in the winter, but he gives them away to animals who are freezing in the snow, until on Christmas Eve he only has one vest left. He meets a lonely mouse who is shivering in the cold, and gives away his last vest. Now Little Robin will be frozen, unless a certain jolly fellow in a red coat can find this generous bird and give him the most precious Christmas gift of all.

Little Robin is such a sweet and generous little guy! He meets a lot of different animals struggling to stay warm in the snow and ice of the winter, and thoughtfully offers them a knitted vest to keep them warm and cozy. Continue reading

Picture Book Review: One Wild Christmas

One Wild Christmas by Nicholas Oldland
One Wild Christmas
by Nicholas Oldland

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


A bear, a moose, and a beaver all come together to celebrate Christmas. The moose loves to bake and cooks a fabulous holiday meal for the friends. The beaver is especially good at decorating and puts up twinkle lights. The bear does the heavy lifting, piling up massive armfuls of presents and gifts for everyone.
They search for the perfect Christmas tree to cut down and bring home, but the bear loves all living trees and will not allow his friends to cut down any trees! Will Christmas be ruined without a Christmas tree to decorate?

I loved this book! The characters are so cute. The storyline is interesting and imaginative, and the writing is charming and simple for young readers. The story made me smile! Continue reading

Picture Book Review: Maisy’s Christmas Party

Maisy's Christmas Party by Lucy Cousins
Maisy’s Christmas Party: With 6 Festive Letters and Secret Surprises!
by Lucy Cousins

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Maisy is inviting all her friends to a Christmas Party, and they each reply with a special letter. Eddie sends Maisy a little calendar to count down the days until the party. Cyril sends her a recipe for gingerbread. Tallulah sends Maisy a star to put on her tree. Charley includes a joke book with his letter, and Maisy laughs and laughs at his jokes. Finally, it’s the day of the party, and the friends have a good time together.

This is such a special Christmas book, with pockets for each of the letters the friends send to Maisy. Inside each envelope/pocket is a letter and a different decoration, recipe, or tiny booklet. Continue reading

Book Review: The Magic Christmas Ornament

The Magic Christmas Ornament by James Barbato
The Magic Christmas Ornament
by James and Victoria Barbato (Authors) Joe Huffman (Illustrator)

2 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Three siblings hear the story about how their father found a magic ornament when he was a boy. When they examine the ornament on Christmas Eve, the children are whisked away to Santa’s Workshop in the North Pole, where they play with toys and meet Santa’s elves. They are given an ornament off Santa’s own Christmas tree, and they return home full of the joy of Christmas.

The writing is good, but has a stiff style, especially in the dialogue. It doesn’t flow as well as it could, but it’s not bad. The story is interesting, but rather simple. There isn’t anything particularly memorable or special in the plot, but it is a sweet story.

The illustrations really bothered me.

Continue reading

Picture Book Review: How Winston Delivered Christmas

How Winston Delivered Christmas by Alex T. Smith
How Winston Delivered Christmas: An Advent Story in Twenty-Four-and-a-Half Chapters
by Alex T. Smith

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Winston is a little mouse, just trying to stay warm on the streets of the city. On Christmas Eve, he finds a letter addressed to Santa, and determines to make sure the lost letter reaches Santa before it’s too late! Along the way, he meets other creatures who advise him on his journey, and finds help in the most unexpected corners.

I loved the story! Winston is so adorable and sweet. He’s very brave and spunky, and I loved all the quirky characters that he meets. The plot really moves along with different twists and turns, and lots of descriptions of beautiful holiday decorations and food and toys that Winston gazes at longingly.

The illustrations are beautiful and colorful and entertaining! I love the cute expressions on Winston’s face, and how each character comes to life in the artwork. Continue reading

Book Review: Willows at Christmas

The Willows at Christmas by William Horwood
The Willows at Christmas 
by William Horwood, Patrick Benson (Illustrator)

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

It’s Mole’s first Christmas on the River Bank after meeting his new friends, the Water Rat, Otter, Badger, and Toad. Mole is concerned because no one seems to have any Christmas spirit, and all his friends find excuses not to attend his holiday festivities. Can Mole unravel the mystery of why a mysterious house guest at Toad Hall is ruining the Christmas season for the entire River Bank? The River Bank friends are launched into a Christmas adventure when Toad is arrested AGAIN, and an ancient law invoked by the Lord of the Manor could mean the end of the Willows.

I adore every book in this series, and this one is wonderful too! Such a great plot with lots of action and excitement interspersed with moments of sweet affection and simple home comforts. The writing style is so close to the writing of Kenneth Grahame that I can barely tell the difference. The old-fashioned charm of the story swept me away immediately into the wholesome world of the Willows.