The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum

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Title: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum

Premise:

This is the life story of a man named Claus (later known as Santa Claus).  It starts with his baby years, when he was abandoned near the forest and a kind-hearted nymph named Necile adopted him as her own.  Claus grew up in an enchanted forest, but when he reached adulthood, he took his place in the world of man.  From his home in the Laughing Valley, Claus spreads happiness to the children of the world by making and delivering toys.  This story talks about his life’s work and how a few common Christmas traditions came to be.

My thoughts:

My son and I just finished reading this for school.  The first time I read it was several years ago and I was quite taken with it back then.  Though the language is quaint and a little old-fashioned, by son thoroughly enjoyed the book and couldn’t wait until we could read the next chapter.

Baum’s story about Santa Claus is more than just a jolly old elf who likes to eat cookies.  His is an active and philanthropic man who makes it his life’s work to bring joy to others.  I like how Santa serves as a middleman between the world of mortals and immortals in this story, drawing the immortals into helping humanity.  I’m sure I’ll be coming back to this book again in a few years so I can read it with my younger girls.  I know they will love the story and I think this is a great family read-aloud!

I recommend The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus to young readers, families and anyone else who wants to learn more about Santa’s history (at least according to Baum).

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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The Father Christmas Letters by J. R. R. Tolkien

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Title: The Father Christmas Letters by J. R. R. Tolkien

Premise:

This book shares a series of letters written by Tolkien (as Father Christmas) to his children, chronicling the adventures at the North Pole each year.  The letters are nicely illustrated with Tolkien’s customary pen and ink drawings.

My thoughts:

This book was completely new to me and I fell in love with it!  Tolkien’s illustrations are simply charming and it’s interesting to see how his style, which I’m used to seeing in his LOTR books, comes through in these letters written to his children.

The letters themselves are simple enough for children, but still interesting for older readers.  It’s easy to imagine the antics going on at the North Pole with the elves, goblins and especially the North Polar Bear or N. P. B.  Who knew that Santa was faced with quite so many obstacles and shenanigans while getting ready to deliver presents to children all around the world?  I can’t wait to share this book with my kids–they are going to love it!

I recommend The Father Christmas Letters to children and families as a wonderful book to read during the holiday season.  You should be able to finish it in two or three leisurely sittings.

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot

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Title: Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot

Premise:

Learn about different kinds of cats and their occupations in verse form!  This is a collection of feline-themed poems which tell readers about the exploits and foibles of Jellicle cats.  One is a magician, one a criminal mastermind, and more.  Whatever their occupation, you’re sure to find a favorite!

My thoughts:

If you are a cat-lover, then you need to read this slim book of poems!  It’s so much fun and really celebrates the quirkiness and idiosyncrasies of our feline friends.  The length is quite short as well, so you shouldn’t have any trouble polishing it off in a day.

I have difficulty choosing a favorite poem because they’re all so good, but I’d have to say that Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer is my all-time fav.  (Actually we named one of our cats Rumpelteazer.)  Rum Tum Tugger comes in a close second.  Hubby says he prefers Skimbleshanks.  My son loves Mr. Mistoffelees.  When he was younger he watched Cats all the time and when it got to the end of that song, he’d take a flying leap off the couch.  He was also scared of Macavity, but don’t tell him I told you so.

The musical Cats (which I absolutely love) is based on this book.  If you’re familiar with the songs from Cats, it will be very difficult to read the book without starting to sing the words.  I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.  Even if you do try to sing through the book, you’ll get muddled up because it’s not copied verbatim.

Throughout the book there are playful and whimsical drawings by Edward Gorey.  They’re somewhat simple, but very well done and really show the character of the various cats.

If it weren’t for the racial comments against the Chinese, this book would have gotten a 5-star rating.  It’s too bad that stuff has to be in there.

I recommend Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats to anybody who loves cats.  Because of the few racial comments, I don’t recommend it for young children, but it could work as a family read-aloud (with the offensive bits left out, of course).


Possible Objections:

  • A racial epithet against the Chinese & a couple of verses that talk about the “Heathen Chinese”

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

 

WHICH CAT IS YOUR FAVORITE?