Three New Books for the Season

The daughters and I have read so many holiday and winter-themed titles, and it's only December 11th!  So here is a round-up of three recent releases we have enjoyed.  All three would make beautiful Christmas gifts for some lucky child or two or three.

Gifts of the Heart by Patricia Polacco.
Putnam Juvenile, 2013.

First up is Gifts of the Heart, the latest beautiful book by author/illustrator extraordinaire Patricia Polacco.  Richie and Trisha are excited for Christmas and know what gift each wants most.  However, their family is going to sell their farm and move away in the spring, and there isn't much money.  Grandma died, and Grampa has decided there are too many memories at the old place.  Coming home from town, they find an old woman named Kay Lamity has arrived to help them as a housekeeper, until the farm can be sold.  With Kay Lamity's assistance, the children learn about gifts of the heart, things that mean more to people than store-bought presents.  This book is gorgeous, both the art and the story.  Mr. B loves Polacco, so he joined us for a family read of this one.  Highly recommended.

Tallulah's Nutcracker by Marilyn Singer,
illustrated by Alexandra Boiger.
Clarion, 2013.

Next is Tallulah's Nutcracker, the fourth in Marilyn Singer and Alexandra Boiger's Tallulah series.  Have you read any of the Tallulah books before?  They are about a young girl who wants to be a ballerina, only each book teaches the progression that a real dancer makes, from understanding that dance classes do not call for tutus, to solos, to pointe shoes, and on to Tallulah's first Nutcracker performance with a real company.  Both of my daughters take dance, and next year, Big Sis plans to audition for The Nutcracker herself.  Like Tallulah, if she is cast, she would play a mouse.  This book would have made a wonderful gift for that occasion, but instead, it was part of their Advent calendar goodies this week.  It's a wonderful gift for the little dancer in your life.  Happy bonus:  an activity kit pertaining to the first two books in the series may be found at the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt website.

The Snow Queen, a retelling of the tale
by Hans Christian Andersen,
illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline.
HarperCollins, 2013.

Last we have a new picture book version of Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen.  While not Christmas-themed, the book is certainly appropriate for the winter season.  There is also renewed interest in the fairy tale thanks to Disney's Frozen, which is only very loosely inspired by "The Snow Queen", but oh my goodness, if you haven't seen it, go see it!  (I loved, loved, loved that movie, can you tell?)  I love Hans Christian Andersen, and "The Snow Queen" is one of my two favorite tales of his.  The original story is quite long - it's even divided into short chapters - and quite involved.  It is a quest tale, as young Gerda sets off to rescue her dear friend Kai from the Snow Queen's palace.  This version is a retelling, but very faithful to the original story.  It's easier to read to children, and the illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulinne are stunning.  I was very impressed, as were the girls.  See more of the book here.  Perfect for any fairy tale fan.

And for fun, here is the famous 1957 Soviet animated version, with English subtitles:  

If you're in the United States, you can see Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre version of "The Snow Queen" here.
And just because:  here is Queen Elsa, voiced by Idina Menzel, singing "Let It Go" from Frozen.  We will be seeing this again at some point, I guarantee it.


  1. Oh Tallulah's Nutcracker is beautiful. I'm so saving the name for next year.

  2. I want to read all those books! The Russian animation is something on my list! I have not watched it yet and I love old Russian cartoons! I don't know if I am the only one but I can't see the last video display!

    1. My computer was slow to load (low memory), but it's working for me. :(

      I love old Russian animation, too. :)

  3. They all look so wonderful! Thanks for sharing. I will definitely be adding them to my 'to-find' list for next year :)

  4. LOVE! Love all of it!! That Snow Queen books looks FAB -- you know I love me some Snow Queen and some FROZEN (best movie ever!!!!!!!!!!!!)

    1. The Snow Queen is gorgeous! The illustrator is the same man who did Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo, which we finally read for the first time last night. (Oh my gosh, what a perfect Christmas book!) So seeing Frozen again over winter break. I have plans!


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