Friday, December 20, 2013

Shelf Life [kids]

Woodland Nutcracker retold by Avril Tyrrell, published in 1999.
Christmas is a time of tradition, a time to hear favourite holiday stories once again. These are a few children’s favourites from years past.
On Christmas Eve in the forest, Clara, a bear cub, unwrapped a wooden Nutcracker Bear, carved by her grandpa. Later that night she awoke to witness a battle between the Nutcracker, his tin soldiers, and the field mice. When Clara called a Christmas Truce, the Nutcracker became real and took her on a fantastical voyage through the Milky Way to Ursa Major. There, in a glittering palace, the bears honoured Clara for her courage in declaring the truce, dancing and performing for her. Clara was entranced!
Later, just as she began to feel a little tired and homesick, she was whisked home again - with the gift of a special telescope to remind her of that magical evening.
Tyrrell’s retelling is based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s original classic, and the lovely, detailed illustrations of Frances Tyrrell have been given many Canadian touches.

** Recommended for ages 3 to 7 years.

Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon, published in 2006.
In 1914, a miraculous Christmas Truce happened - not in a peaceful forest - but in the muddy trenches of No Man’s Land in France during World War I.
The British and German soldiers had been fighting bitterly. Now it was Christmas, and the soldiers, sitting in the trenches, were sadly thinking of their families at home.
Suddenly, a young German voice, soon joined by others, began to sing a Christmas carol. When it was finished, the British soldiers, on the other side, responded with another carol.
Then the soldiers on both sides climbed out of the trenches and joined together. They greeted each other, talked, shared chocolates and family photos – and realized that they had much in common. Next, they played soccer.
This Christmas story is all the more heartwarming because it was based on a true event during the dark days of “The Great War”.

** Recommended for ages 6 to 10 years.

Hurry! Hurry! Have You Heard? By Laura Melmed, published in 2008.
One by one, the creatures of the fields and forests heard the happy message as the little bird flew here and there. “Hurry! Hurry! Have you heard? A child was born tonight!”
One by one, the mouse, bunny, fox, hummingbird, and the many other birds and animals hastened with great excitement to the stable to welcome the new baby. Even the tortoise did his best to hurry. And one by one, as if by magic, each found that they had a way in which to speak and greet the tiny newborn who lay in the straw.
The baby is never named but it is obvious that he is the Christ child.
Jane Dyer’s charming illustrations, with the spider wearing a top hat, the tortoise in a stocking cap and other such whimsical details, help to make this story a Christmas treasure for preschoolers.
** Recommended for ages 2 to 5 years. 

This review appeared in The Stratford Gazette on December 19, 2013. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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