I've received two Christmas picture books in the mail recently from Sleeping Bear Press. (The first is not included in the giveaway, and the second is.)
The first being Smudge and the Book of Mistakes: A Christmas Story.
The concept for this one is sort of cute. It tells the story of a young monk, Brother Bede, who is selected by the Abbot to help illustrate the manuscript containing the Christmas story. Brother Bede is not what you would call a perfectionist, by any stretch of the imagination. (They don't call him "Smudge" for nothing!) The other monks are sure that the Abbot has made a mistake in assigning Bede to the task, but it is a mistake that works out well in the end. The moral of the story is: anyone can do great things.
Honestly, I wasn't sure what to think about this book. At one point, one of the characters makes the statement that "God gives talent and we have to meet Him halfway." I see what the author is trying to say but it comes across as, "God helps those who help themselves" which is a statement that you won't actually find in scripture and which I do not agree with. Because I wasn't quite sure what to make of the book as a whole, I asked Jonathan to read through it. He obliged me and then said he wasn't sure he really cared for it as most of the characters are practicing some form of deceit towards the others, in order to try to manipulate the events and the outcome of the manuscript. He said it came off too much as a "the ends justify the means" sort of tale and he wasn't very fond of it. We both could see what the author was trying to do, but felt that they used the wrong vocabulary words to tell the story which gave us both pause.
It's certainly a different kind of story (and I know everyone is always looking for something new and different than ye ole Frosty the Snowman) and so I wanted to present the title anyway because the issues that bothered us with the book might not bother you. The illustrations by Stephen Costanza are very fun to look at. Love the way he illustrated lights, in particular (i.e., moonlight on Smudge's face, etc.). Nicely done!
The "winning" title from the two I received, I think, is The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Dan Andreasen.
There is nothing surprising or new to the story in this particular title. It is the song, as we all know and love it. (Heh. How much do you love it?) What makes this book so fun are the illustrations by Mr. Andreasen. (Side note of interest: he was the illustrator for American Girl characters Felicity and Samantha.)
In this particular version, Anreasen uses animals to illustrate the scenes. The "eight maids a-milking" are cats and the "ten lords a-leaping" are frogs dressed in coattails. Cute (as far as frogs go)! Aligators are piping and turtles are drumming as you sing or read-along.
We have a copy of the Anne Geddes 12 Days of Christmas book but I think I'm going to bump that from the collection and insert this title in it's place. I just like it so much more and I know my children are really going to go for the animals!
I'm very excited to say that I have TWO signed copies of The Twelve Days of Christmas to give away to two of you! Would you like to win? (Silly question.) Simply leave a comment including a valid e-mail address in the comment section below. This contest is open through Friday, December 7th, and is open to U.S. Residents only.
Extra entries: Spread the word about this contest on your blog/Twitter or Facebook and leave a comment for each for more chances to win!
Thank you, Sleeping Bear Press, for sending copies of the above titles in exchange for my honest thoughts. Thank you also for your generosity in providing two additional copies of The Twelve Days of Christmas to two of my readers.
Now, may I say . . . .