Category Archives: Children’s Books

A Visit From St Nicholas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring

Not even a mouse.”

Okay, you’ve heard those lines before and probably many, many times. Do you know where they originate from though? Well, I’ll tell you. ‘A Visit From St Nicholas’ was penned by Clement Clarke Moore as a Christmas present for his children.  The poem was first published in 1822 in Troy Sentinel magazine. As Moore did not put his name to it, there has been controversy as to whether it was written by him or not but most people concede that he did write it.

The poem is written in narrative form so that the story structure appeals to adults and children alike. The setting is a family home in North America on Christmas Eve. All the family are sleeping apart from Daddy who is trying to get to sleep. Suddenly he hears a noise. He rushes to the window and sees what all of us would dearly love to view “a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer” driven by a jolly old chap.

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After a swoop across the sky, Daddy hears the sound of hooves landing on his roof and then the man himself shoots down the chimney covered in soot. Father Christmas sees Daddy and gives him a cheeky wink. Wow – can you imagine that? He then goes about his work filling the Christmas stockings with goodies. Due to the busy aspect of being Father Christmas, he doesn’t hang around to socialise; he’s off back up the chimney. His parting shot is “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”

cat-christmas

It would be magical to see the real man but as this is unlikely to happen, you can still have a bit of magic by sharing this wonderful poem with someone on Christmas Eve. I beseech you – read it out on the Eve and you will feel better about the magic of Christmas. Cats and dogs particularly enjoy a good poem.

May the spirit of Christmas touch you whoever you are and whatever your situation is.

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Filed under Children's Books, Christmas, For children

Want to be snowy with your child? ‘The Snowy Day’ will do it for you

Get Transported

If your small children are desperate for it to snow this Christmas, you could give them great joy by trying to get hold of a copy of ‘The Snowy Day’ by Ezra Jack Keats. It was published in 1962 and children from the age of four onwards will love it.

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Jacob Ezra Katz was the son of poor Polish- Jewish immigrants who lived in Brooklyn, New York. Jacob suffered from anti-Semitic prejudices and so changed his name to Ezra Jack Keats. His past experiences are reflected in his work as he portrays a sympathy and understanding of what it was like to grow up in a similar community that he lived in.

When Keats wrote ‘The Snowy Day’, it was before multicultural characters and themes had come to children’s literature. In the story, Peter, a young African-American boy wakes up to discover that it has snowed while he has been in bed asleep. When he looks out, as far as he is concerned, the whole world has been covered with snow. He goes outside and enjoys the magical pleasures of a playing in a snow clad world. Watch the animated version of the book – it’s beautiful.

As you can see from the above animation, you get  transported into the world of  childhood as Peter lies down in the snow to make snow angels; experiments with footprints and knocks the clumps of snow off trees. All of these things are what many of us have experienced as children and are exactly what our little tots do when they discover a snowy world.

Keats is one of those super talented folks who not only writes the text but also illustrates the book too. This adds to the overall magic of it because he uses cut-outs, watercolours and collage in enchanting beautiful art. Even though the book was originally published in 1962, it can still be enjoyed today as it has an enduring timeless quality to it.

Even if our own Christmas is not as atmospheric as we would like it, we can always transport ourselves with a book. Happy reading.

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Filed under Children's Books, For children

Season’s Greetings – Escape Reality with ‘The Box of Delights’

box-of-delights

If you have children, you can offer them a great time this Christmas by sharing the wonderful book ‘The Box of Delights’ with them. However, you do not need children in your life to enjoy this magical tale. As an adult, I find that it truly transports me. It was written by John Masefield and published in 1935. It is also available on dvd and is magical in that form too. In fact, it is one of those tales which becomes a Christmas tradition and can be brought out every year.

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The old man is abducted

The story is set around the cathedral town of Condicote and begins when the boy, Kay Harker is coming home for the holidays the week before Christmas. He is entrusted with a magical box by an old man who runs a Punch and Judy show. The old man is then abducted. Kay finds out that the box can make you either shrink or run swiftly. It also shows wonders and allows you to travel into the past.

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Kay, along with his pals, Maria Jones and her brother, Peter then set about rescuing the old man who is the magician Cole Hawlings. Cole has been kidnapped by scary wolf figures who are minions of the villain, Abner Brown. Brown becomes viler as the plot gathers pace. He eventually kidnaps the entire staff of the cathedral and demands the Box of Delights as ransom. Of course, Kay saves the day.

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Reading this book takes children on an enchanting adventure from the snowy encampment of Roman legions to the appearance of the medieval Arnold of Todi, the inventor of the box. There are humorous squabbles between pirate rats and house mice. The pure magic of the book is not simply the only wonderful aspect of it; there is something much deeper. The box symbolizes the imagination and the message is that we must protect our imaginations from the vile forces of commercialism, violence and stupidity.

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I think that sometimes we have to embrace the magic of an imaginary world in order to escape from the jingle jangle of commercial greed.  If you feel the need to escape from all that just read the book or watch the dvd and away you will go. A word of warning though – don’t forget to return to reality.

Seasons Greetings.  

 

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Filed under Children's Books, Christmas, For children, Reading

Help your child to be a success

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Being is with little kids is a pure blast! I really mean that. I also love watching other folks have experiences with these little folks too. It is soooooooooooo entertaining because I can smell ‘little kid fear’ at a hundred yards. Like a starving wolf getting a sniff of congealed pizza, I sniff it out everywhere. It’s always the eyes of the adult that gives ‘little kid fear’ away.

Let me explain, ‘little kid fear’ is when you take a child somewhere maybe on a train or in a restaurant and you are slightly worried how your little angel is going to act. I use trains and restaurants because they are my favourite place for watching people with little kids.

This is what I see a lot of on trains. People get on with a little kid and I can tell by the things that they say to the child that they think that just being on the train is going to fascinate the said child for the whole journey. After about one minute, the child is no longer excited by this as basically it is just sitting in a chair looking out at fields. We have to see things as they see them.

It’s the same with restaurants, sitting at a chair eating is no different to a little kid from eating at home, it doesn’t matter how tasty the food is, the child doesn’t really care that much when they are waiting for it arrive or they have finished.

I know that to many people this is all common sense but I also understand that to many puzzled folks it is not and that is why I am writing about it. However, there is a simple trick that helps on trains and in restaurants and that is to be armed with some stories.

You may snort and shake your head but most kids love stories. When my son was little I never went anywhere without a book of stories and a pile of cds in the car. It may be a faff to have to sit reading a story while you are waiting for your meal to arrive but at least your child will most likely sit like a model citizen if you have got them hanging on every word.

While you are eating, you can talk about the story. Ask your child if they liked the main character and if not, why not. Ask them if they would like to do what the character did. You get the idea, have a good yak about what happened in the tale. Basically, if little kids are part of a conversation they will respond and enjoy it. This usually means good behaviour.

Meanwhile, if you are short of a place to get some great stories from, you should go to Alfie Dog Fiction where I’m the featured writer at the moment.

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Filed under Children's Books, For children, Help Your Child To Be Sucessful, Parenting

Getting Children Reading – Picture Books – Corduroy by Don Freeman

Picture Book Heaven

If there is one thing in the world that can make the sun shine when it is raining for us at Loony Literature, it is a beautiful picture book. For children up to the age of four, picture books work very well as each page has wonderful illustrations which the child can devour with their eyes while listening to the story.

A truly charming picture book to look out for is ‘Corduroy’ by Don Freeman which was first published in 1968 but children still adore it today. Corduroy is a cute teddy in green dungarees who sits on the shelf of a department store hoping to find a new home. Unfortunately, Corduroy has a dangling shoulder strap because the button has fallen off his dungarees and is lost.

Isn't he cute?

Isn’t he cute?

When a young girl sees him and falls in love with him, Corduroy’s hopes are lifted until her mother says that she has spent enough money and then points out that he has a broken shoulder strap anyway. Corduroy waits until the store closes and then goes in search of a button for his dungarees.

Never Give Up

He makes his way to the furniture department and tries to pull a button off a mattress but knocks a lamp over. The night watchman hears this and when he sees Corduroy he returns him back to his shelf. However, the young girl returns the next day with her own money to buy Corduroy. This is truly a book for little children to learn about determination both on the part of Corduroy as he journeyed for his lost button and the little girl who used her savings to give the little bear a home.

Incidentally, if you are an adult who hasn’t read a picture book for a long time, do try it. The reason for this is that they are uplifting. I find that if I feel a bit grumpy and I spend some time looking at picture books, I emerge in a much better mood.

Happy reading.

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Cheer Yourself Up With A Children’s Book – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Here at Loony Literature, we believe that if you need help smiling, you might consider reading a children’s book. Many grown ups do not realize that throwing adultness to one side and losing themselves in a children’s story is as good as taking medicine. It liberates your soul and makes you feel as if anything is possible. Remember how you felt before you grew up and life got you down?

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

A wonderful one to try is ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ by Ian Fleming. It was actually written as three separate adventures. The first two were originally published in 1964 and the third one came out in 1965. What is really interesting is that Ian Fleming found his inspiration from a car really called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which was built in 1920 by Fleming’s chum, Count Zoborowski.

The main character of the story is the magical car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Her owners are the Pott family but their name was changed to Potts for the film. The father of the family, Caractacus Pott is an explorer and an inventor who lives with his wife and their twins.

One day, Caractacus invents a new type of candy which has holes in it that makes a whistling noise as it is being sucked. The owner of a sweet factory buys it for lots of money and that is how Caractacus buys Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Delight yourself by reading about this car which has a mind of her own as she flies and turns herself into a hovercraft. You may not get rid of all your worries but you will certainly forget about them for a time.

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Filed under Children's Books, For children, Reading, Self Esteem and Literature