Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Favorite Picture Books

In tradition of the end of another year, I've counted down some of my favorite children's picture books of the year. There were a lot of great releases out this year. Some of which I've read I've shared below, and others I will be reviewing here on the blog in the new year. Check out my 10 favorite picture books I featured on the blog this year. 

  1. The Only Child by Goujing
  2. Float by Daniel Miyares
  3. The Bear Report by Thyra Heder
  4. What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada
  5. Jack Frost by William Joyce
  6. A Village By The Sea by Muon Van
  7. Here Comes Easter Cat by Deborah Underwood
  8. Wish by Matthew Cordell
  9. I Don't Want To Be A Frog by Dev Petty
  10. A Mom for Umande: A True Adoption Story by Maria Falconer
What were some of your favorite pictures books to read this year?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada / Book Review

By: Kobi Yamada
Illustrated by: Mae Besom
Published by: Compendium 
Released on: 2/1/14
Ratings: 5 Owlets - We Loved It!
Source: Purchased book

This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child's confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens. This is a story for anyone, at any age, who's ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd, too difficult. It's a story to inspire you to welcome that idea, to give it some space to grow, and to see what happens next. Because your idea isn't going anywhere. In fact, it's just getting started.

A beautifully illustrated book with an inspirational story about the power of an idea. Too often ideas come and go, and are not really nurtured or allowed to grow. What Do You Do With An Idea inspires that nurturing, and confidence that is needed to allow an idea to grow. Sometimes ideas are nurtured and allowed to grow for a long time, making them become bigger and bigger over time, until they morph into something big and beautiful. 

This is one of my favorite children's picture books. With it's beautiful illustrations and inspiring story about the power of an idea, readers of all ages can take something away from this. The amazing thing about an idea, is that it's yours. I love the message about not letting anyone deter you from your idea. You get to take care of it, and watch it grow into something wonderful. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

THE BEAR REPORT by Thyra Heder / Book Review

Written & Illustrated by: Thyra Heder
Published by: Abrams Books
Released on: October 6th, 2015
Purchase from: Abrams Books | Amazon | Barnes&Noble
Add it to Goodreads
Take a look inside here
Rating: 5 Owlets - We LOVED It
* I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

Sophie does not want to do her homework, a research report on polar bears. Bor-ing. They’re big. They eat things. They’re mean. What else is there to say about them anyway? As it turns out, plenty. And when a polar bear named Olafur swoops her away to the Arctic, she soon learns all about the playful bear’s habits and habitat—from glacier mice to the northern lights—and, despite her first reservations, she finds herself not just interested but excited about the Arctic. When the two are swept out to sea on an iceberg, Sophie’s new knowledge and knack for creative thinking pay off in a big way: she calls a whale to their aid! Inspired by her journey, she’s ready to return home and take another swing at her assignment, this time with gusto.

The Bear Report showcases the power of curiosity and imagination to fill any blank canvas, whether it’s an incomplete homework assignment or the Arctic ice.

A beautifully illustrated story, The Bear Report will have you falling in love with Sophie, Olafur the Polar Bear, and the Arctic. 

An uniquely told story about Polar Bears, a young girl named Sophie has to give a report on Polar Bears. Without researching them, she writes three things about them. Her three guesses are proved wrong when Olafur, a Polar Bear appears in her room, and takes her on an incredibly adventure to learn about Polar Bears. Sophie soon realizes there is far more to Polar Bears than she ever imagined. A beautiful friendship quickly forms between Sophie and Olafur as she learns more about the ways of the Polar Bears, and their Arctic home. 

This book is visually stunning. I felt like I was getting a sneak peak into the harsh beauty of the arctic through Thyra's beautiful water color illustrations. Her details small and big, really created something unique with Sophie and Olafur's story. Along side Sophie, readers learn about Polar Bears, and their beautiful land they call home. This is a beautiful book, and one I highly recommend picking up. Even if it's just for the illustrations alone, though the story is one that will melt your heart. 

Friday, December 25, 2015


Image source

Wishing each of you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a wonderful holiday season! I hope this season brings cherished moments, wonderful memories, love & laughter. Here's to a lovely Christmas Day & Holiday season!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

AN INVISIBLE THREAD Christmas Story by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski / Book Review

By: Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski
Illustrated by: Barry Root
Published by: Little Simon 
Released on: November 17th, 2015
Ages: 3-8 years old
Purchase from: Simon & SchusterAmazon | Barnes&Noble
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 4 Owlets - We Enjoyed It
*I received this book to review in exchange for my honest review

From the #1 New York Times bestselling authors of An Invisible Thread comes the true, heartfelt, and extraordinary story of how one woman’s decision to help a boy on the street changed both of their lives forever.

New York Times bestselling author Laura Schroff tells the remarkable story of her lifelong friendship with a boy named Maurice who she met on the street while he was asking for change in her book, An Invisible Thread.

Now, in this sweet picture book, Laura retells the first Christmas that she and Maurice spent together. She shares how Maurice gave her a small white bear and, as she later learns, the only thing he had that he could truly call his own—to show her how grateful he was for their friendship. This heartwarming tale captures the true meaning of the holidays and will be one you’ll want to share with your family year after year as a reminder that a gift from the heart is always the best present under the tree.

This story captures that true meaning of giving back to those in need, and how one small act of kindness can forever change of the lives of both the person receiving the act, and the one committing the act of kindness.

 AN INVISIBLE THREAD Christmas Story, is the incredible true story of an unlikely friendship between Laura Schrod and a young boy named Maurice. This is a heartwarming story of how how women's small act of kindness in feeding a young, hungry kid on the streets, forever changed their lives. It's a story about unlikely friendship that has spanned almost 30 years. Though it's been almost thirty years since Laura's act of kindness forever changed her and Maurice's lives, it's an act that keeps on giving. I love reading books like this, that have a message about the true meaning of the season. 

AN INVISIBLE THREAD is about Laura and Maurice's story, and how feeding a hungry kid lunch turned into weekly dinners, and having Christmas together. It's also more than that. It's a story with a message about how doing a small act of kindness can forever change a person. At the end of the book, both Laura and Maurice share their personal message about their story, as well as list ways for readers to do their own small act of kindness. Small acts of kindness don't need to be done just during the Holidays, but can and should be performed all year long.

A small Act of Kindness can have a major impact and mean the world to the person who receives it. The holidays are about spreading love and giving to those in need. Whether is be a smile, a meal, clothes, food etc. No act of kindness, big or small, goes unnoticed. Often times it's not just the person who's receiving the act of kindness that is changed, but the person giving. This a book that we'll definitely take out year after year and read it. I would highly recommend picking it up, and adding this book to your Christmas book collection. It's a book who's message and story will leave a lasting impression on all who read it. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sofia The First: SOFIA'S FIRST CHRISTMAS / Book Review

Written by: Laurie Israel and Rachel Ruderman
Illustrated by: Grace Lee
Published by: Disney Press
Released on: September 15th, 2015
Series: A Disney Junior Classics Tale
Ages: 3 & up 
Purchase from: DisneyAmazon
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets - We Loved It
* I received a copy of this book to review, in exchange for my honest review

Sofia loves the holiday season of Wassailia, but this year, she gets to celebrate Christmas for the first time ever! She can't wait to visit her good friend, Vivian, see a foreign kingdom, and experience all of the wonderful traditions of Christmas. But during her visit, two friendly sprites ask Sofia to help them find their lost friend. Can Sofia help? This beautiful storybook with full-color illustrations will be a treasured collectible and gift for any Disney Junior fan!

Celebrate the Christmas holiday with Sofia and friends! Filled with Christmas Eve cheer and plenty of adventure, Sofia's First Christmas is sure to be a hit with fans of Sofia, and Disney Jr.

This year Sofia is celebrating her first Christmas ever, with her friend Vivian. The stockings are hung, the tree is decorated, and snow is on the ground. While the friends are building a snowman, they discover Sofia's friends the wee sprites. With Christmas Eve festivities soon to take place, the girls help the wee sprites find their missing friend Brody. During their search for Brody, they encounter a few woodland animals celebrating in the fun of the holiday spirit. Before long Brody arrives, and just in time for the girls to take one last sleigh ride back to the castle in time for their Christmas Eve celebrations. 

With adorable illustrations, and plenty of Christmas cheer, Sofia's First Christmas will make the perfect gift for any young reader.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU by Mariah Carey / Book Review

By: Mariah Carrey
Illustrated by: Colleen Madden
Published by: Double Day Books
Released on: November 10th, 2015
Ages: 3-7
Purchase from: Penguin Random HouseAmazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Ratings: 4 Owlets - We Enjoyed It!
*I received this book to review, in exchange for my honest review

Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You, one of the bestselling and most beloved songs of all time, brings Christmas joy to countless listeners of all ages every year. And now its classic lyrics will bring that same holiday spirit to readers of all ages in this one-of-a-kind picture book about a young girl whose greatest Christmas wish is for a new puppy! Full of festive December moments with family, friends, presents, and of course, Santa Claus—and featuring lively yuletide illustrations alongside the complete song lyrics—All I Want for Christmas Is You will become a cherished part of your family's Christmas traditions for many years to come.

Includes a special Christmas letter from Mariah to her fans!

An adorable illustrated children's book based on Mariah Carey's hit Christmas song, ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU. While the story itself is based on the lyrics of Mariah's hit song, which is about someone who longs for someone they love to come home for Christmas, the book is about a young girl who only wants a puppy for Christmas. While I wasn't a huge fan of these lyrics being turned into a children's picture book, the illustrations totally won me over. 

The illustrations themselves really make this book worth picking up. They are simply adorable. They really bring this story to life, and make it relatable for children, whether or not they're wanting a furry pet of their own for Christmas. The illustrations take readers through the Holiday season with the young girl. From Christmas shopping, to seeing Santa Claus, making crafts, playing in the snow, and so forth, all she wants is a puppy for Christmas. With it's cute illustrations, I'd say this is one picture book that would be worth picking up this Christmas season. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Only Child by Goujing / Book Review

About The Book

Written and Illustrated By: Goujing
Published by: Schwartz & Wade Books (Random House Children's Books)
Released On: December 1, 2015
Ages: 5 & up
Pages: 112
Purchase it from: Penguin Random House | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets - We LOVED It

A little girl—lost and alone—follows a mysterious stag deep into the woods, and, like Alice down the rabbit hole, she finds herself in a strange and wondrous world. But... home and family are very far away. How will she get back there?

In this magnificently illustrated—and wordless—masterpiece, debut artist Guojing brilliantly captures the rich and deeply-felt emotional life of a child, filled with loneliness and longing as well as love and joy.

My Thoughts

A stunning debut! Goujing's gorgeous imagery tells a wordless, moving story that readers of all ages will love. The illustrations, and adventures the little girl go on, are mesmerizing. Whether you're an only child, or have siblings, emotions felt through out each image will transport readers into the story, and leave them looking through this book time and time again. Similar to another timeless, wordless favorite book of mine, The Snowman by Raymond Bigg's, Goujing's The Only Child is sure to be a classic. 

If you only pick up one illustrated children's book this year, make it this one! I absolutely loved it. This is a book that is being placed on our favorite children's literature shelf. I highly recommend picking up THE ONLY CHILD. It would make the perfect gift to give this Holiday season. 

Check out some of the illustrations below:

* I received a publish copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


By: Joan Holub
Illustrated by: Scott Magoon
Published by: Henry Holt
Released on: September 8th, 2015
Ages: 3 & up
Purchase from: Macmillan Kids | Amazon 
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets - We Loved It!
* I received an arc of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review

'Twas December 24th, and three brave knights were just settling in for the night when out on the drawbridge, there arose such a clatter! The knights try everything to get rid of this unknown invader (Santa Claus!), a red and white knight with a fleet of dragons . . .

But nothing would stop
their white-whiskered foe.
No matter their efforts,
he just would not go!

This parody of Clement Clarke Moore's well-known poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas is kid-friendly, clever, and just plain silly—sure to become a holiday classic of a different kind.

A royally enchanting twist on the 'Twas The Night Before Christmas, Joan Holub's THE KNIGHTS BEFORE CHRISTMAS is a downright, delightful Christmas book readers of all ages will enjoy. 

The three goodhearted Knights are trying to keep Santa out of the castle. Not realizing he is trying to give them gifts for being so good, they do everything they can to keep him out. We all know Santa isn't one to be deterred. He outsmarts the Knights and gives them their gifts in a creative Knightly way. 

I loved Joan's twist on this classic Christmas tale. This book is filled with humor, and good illustrations that children and adults alike will enjoy. Even the illustrations included text that adds to the over all humor found through out the book. We really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend picking up THE KNIGHTS BEFORE CHRISTMAS!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

How To Catch Santa by Jean Reagan / Book Review

By: Jean Reagan
Illustrated by: Lee Wildish
Published by: Random House Children's Books
Released on: October 20th, 2015
Series: "How To" series 
Ages: 4-8
Pages: 32
Purchase from: Penguin Random HouseAmazon | Barnes&Noble
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 4/5 owlets
* I received a copy of this book to review in exchange for my honest review

From the creators of the New York Times bestsellers How to Babysit a Grandpa and How to Babysit a Grandmacomes an equally charming and hilarious holiday offering!
After waiting for days and days and days, it’s finally Christmas Eve. And that’s when you can try to catch Santa. . . .

From Jean Reagan and Lee Wildish, creators of the bestselling HOW TO... series, comes a delightful new offering, written again in a hilarious instructional style. Two sibling narrators give clever tips for “catching” Santa (be crafty! be clever! be gentle!) on Christmas Eve. Filled with humor and holiday warmth, this is a jolly read-aloud for the whole family to enjoy!

Have you ever wondered what you could do to catch Santa Claus on Christmas Eve? Author Jean Reagan and Illustrator Lee Wildish provide the best 'how to' in trying to catch the Jolly Ole Man. With questions, ideas and lists on all the ways you can try and catch Santa, young readers will enjoy reading about the two siblings as they try to catch Santa. As we all know, it's no easy feat staying up all night to try and sneak a peak at him, let alone capture him. 

With it's bright and cheerful illustrations, this fun 'how to' story is one readers of all ages will get a laugh reading. How To Catch Santa is a fun filled holiday book on all the ways kids can try and catch the man who brings joy and wonder to kids young and old. This was a good, fun read, and one we'd recommend picking up. It's a great read for all those who believe in the magic and fun of the Christmas season. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Today is International NINJA DAY! #SamuraiSelfie

December 5th is international Ninja Day! A group of picture book authors have banded together to create an awesome Nonja themed activity packet that you can use to celebrate!

Also, one of the ninja authors, Rubin Pingk – author of Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas is running a contest for all ninja, samurai, Santa, or book lovers out there!

To enter the contest, you can either: 

     1) Take a photo with one of the attached printouts of either Samurai Santa or Ninja Yukio (see any of the images featured in this post)
   2) Take a photo with the book Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas
   3)  Take a photo dressed as a ninja or doing something ninja like (bonus points if it involves a snowman)

THEN tag your photo using #SamuraiSelfie and post it on either Ttwitter, Tumblr, Facebook, or Instagram!

If you do one of the above, you are then entered to win one of the following awesome prizes:    

    - A signed copy of Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas
    - A signed poster
    - A pack of indoor snowballs
    - A gift-card to a bookstore
    - A drawing of you or your family drawn as ninjas, signed by the illustrator

So #SamuraiSelfie away!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of The Polar Express! #ReadandBelieve

For millions of readers worldwide, this mysterious journey to the North Pole has become a beloved classic. In this 30th anniversary edition, the inimitable artistry of Chris Van Allsburg is revealed in a never-before-seen fashion, with a new jacket design and expanded interior layout. Includes author’s note, downloadable audio read by Liam Neeson, and golden train ornament.
Enter for a chance to win an incredible trip for four that includes an outing on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride and a ski package in beautiful Durango, Colorado next holiday season—click HERE to enter! In celebration of the 30th anniversary edition of The Polar Express from Chris Van Allsburg.
*Sweepstakes runs October 15-December 31, 2015. Rules and restrictions apply. No purchase necessary.

Free Party Kit and Countdown Holiday Calendar!

Download a deluxe party kit here with games, activities, recipes, and more to throw a Polar Express party at your store, library, school, or right at home!
And start counting down the holidays with a free holiday calendar with surprises for each day found here.
All materials are available on The Polar Express website including more information on Chris Van Allsburg and all of his books.

Embrace the giving spirit of The Polar Express

Post on social media using #ReadandBelieve between 10/15 and 12/31 and for each social share HMH will donate a copy of The Polar Express to Christmas in the City, a local nonprofit dedicated to assisting homeless families. Visit our Pinterest board for details and more fun throughout the season.

*All post content credit to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~