Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Reading

In Mrs. Claus Explains It All by Elsbeth Claus (yes, Mrs. Claus herself ;) ) and David Wenzel (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2008), Mrs. Claus answers children's questions about her husband Santa, the elves, and the reindeer. Did you know that no one ever sees Santa's village at the North Pole because of a dense fog created by special cloud-making machines? Did you also know that Santa takes more than one trip to deliver all the toys on Christmas Eve? He has a special combination launch pad and loading dock, and a pit crew of elves who restock his sack, de-ice the sleigh, water the reindeer, and refill his thermos. All under ten minutes of course. Or did you know that the elves' favorite books are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Charlotte's Web, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Wizard of Oz?

David Wenzel's warm and spirited illustrations of all things Christmas - from elves and reindeer to cookies and snow - spread Christmas cheer. Mrs. Claus' answers to children's questions and Wenzel's illustrations give this picture book a traditional and classic Christmas feel. Read this with a child asking questions like: Why didn't Santa give what I asked for? How can he get into houses without chimneys? And the most important question of all: What are Santa's favorite cookies?!

I know what some of you are thinking. "Boy, Tarie reads a lot of those Horrid Henry books written by Francesca Simon and illustrated by Tony Ross." These early chapter books are kind of addicting. (Trust me. I've actually tried to stop reading them.) And Christmas is my favorite holiday, so I couldn't help but be curious about how Henry would celebrate Christmas. But this is HORRID Henry we are talking about. This means Christmas DISASTER stories. Horrid Henry's Christmas (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2009) has four stories. The first one takes place December 22 and the other stories follow Henry to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

In "Horrid Henry's Christmas Play," Henry plays an innkeeper who turns Joseph and Mary away in the school's Christmas play. His only line is "No" and he would like to make his part bigger. He could shout "NO!" He could shout "NO!" then hit Joseph. He could shout "NO!" then hit and rob Joseph... Hmm, the possibilities for Henry's role in the play are endless...

In "Horrid Henry's Christmas Presents," Henry manages to get Christmas presents for everyone without spending a dime. There's the soap in the bathroom for his cousin Prissy Polly. (It comes with a strand of hair, too.) How about writing a poem for Mom?

Dear old wrinkly Mom
Don't be glum
Cause you've got a fat tum
And an even bigger bum
Ho ho ho hum
Love from your son,

There. That didn't cost a thing.

"Horrid Henry's Ambush" is about Henry trying to capture Santa Claus so that he can get all the presents in Santa's sack (naturally). Henry sets up a bucket of water over his bedroom door, stretches a jump rope in front of the door, crisscrosses his room with a string with bells, and strategically places whoopee cushions all over the room. Santa couldn't possibly escape from all that. But maybe Santa has a trap for Henry, too!

And finally, "Horrid Henry's Christmas Lunch" with his family doesn't quite go as planned, but they all still have a merry Christmas together. :o)

Read Horrid Henry's Christmas for funny Christmas stories! Happy Holidays, everyone!

[Both books were provided by the publisher.]

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I've been meaning to help spread the word about this for some time now: Usok, a quarterly web-based magazine of speculative fiction by Filipino writers. It's published by Rocket Kapre Books and edited by Paolo Chikiamco. Let me take this opportunity to say that I am SUPER impressed by Paolo Chikiamco.

Enchanted Conversation is an online magazine (in Blogger format) that celebrates fairy tales through short stories, essays, and art. (Thanks to Saints and Spinners for the link!)

YARN (Young Adult Review Network) publishes short stories for young adult readers, ages 14-18, and those in other age groups who enjoy young adult literature. YARN also features creative essays, poetry, book reviews, and author interviews. (Thanks to Finding Wonderland for the link!)

Behold a new press: Twenty-six-year-old Sumanth Prabhaker has started Madras Press. Madras Press publishes beautiful individually bound short stories in regular series of four. One hundred percent of their net proceeds from sales go to charitable organizations.

These two Madras Press books are on my Christmas wish list. They seem oh oh oh so lovely!

Rebecca Lee’s Bobcat offers a tense, poetic, and emotionally harrowing account of a fateful dinner party in which couples at various stages of life and love intersect.

In Sweet Tomb, Trinie Dalton tells the story of Candy, a candy-addicted witch who resents her inherited lifestyle. After a fire burns down her gingerbread house, she leaves the forest and ventures out in search of the excitement of a more urban environment. Along the way she encounters a self-mutilating puppet, tastes meat for the first time, and falls in love with Death, a skeletal woman with a shoe fetish.

I am in awe of Sumanth Prabhaker and truly inspired by Madras Press. Read this interview over at Bookslut for more about them. (Thanks to BookDragon for the links!)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Hi, everyone! Please head on over to Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind to read my interview with writer, editor, and SCBWI RA Mio Debnam. She fills us in on the children's and young adult literature scene in Hong Kong! :o)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009