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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: CHRISTMAS, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,344
1. CHRISTMAS 2016 - anthropologie

I know it is only November but as I had visited Anthropologie on Friday it seemed a good time to mention their Christmas selection. I loved the folky felted letters, which are part of an entire alphabet of tree or garland decorations. The core of their offering this year was mainly designed by Portland based company Quill & Fox and below I have picked out a selection of items spotted online at

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2. PAPER GOODS - susse collection

Designer Susse Linton has a great little online shop selling her paper goods - such as these fun cactus cards. Susse has just added her Christmas designs to the store with lots of new Christmas cards and an A5 holiday activity book. The book contains patterned papers ready to make garlands, gift tags, etc. There is also a 2017 calendar featuring Susse's whimiscal illustrations. All available

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3. CHRISTMAS 2016 - belly button designs

Talking of Belly Button Designs I noticed they had posted some brand new Christmas designs on their blog. In keeping with their everyday ranges we can expect a lot of metallics along with smart, simple typography and stylish illustrations.

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4. A Night of Great Joy- Children’s Book Review & Giveaway

Photo: Make it A Night of Great Joy

Christmas is less than seven weeks away. Can you believe it?
Before the little ones become enraptured with twinkling lights and toy displays, snuggle them in for a story. The picture book, A Night of Great Joy, written and illustrated by Mary Engelbreit, would be a delightful choice. Allow me to share with you a little about the book, and how you can possibly win it.

This beautifully illustrated book is sure to captivate young children's attention. Engelbreit chose to tell the nativity story through a children’s Christmas pageant.  Children of all ethnicities, clad in colorful costumes, tell the story of Christ’s birth, on a stage using handmade props.
The story unfolds with one to three free verse sentences per page. The message is sweet and simple.
The illustrations are precious. Two children tug over a stuffed lamb. Another child seemingly wants to draw attention to herself. And one is an eager participant in the beginning, but later loses interest.
How fitting for Christmas to illustrate our sinful nature and our need for Christ.
Who wants to win this book?
All you have to do to get your name in the drawing is share something you’ve done, or plan to do, to help children focus on the Reason for the season.
I’ll announce the winner of the book on Saturday, Nov. 12. Leave a comment and get your name in the drawing!
**(Make sure you visit the blog on Veterans Day! I have a wonderful guest blogging for me that day and she has an AWESOME giveaway planned.) 

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5. Witches, werewolves, and Christmas

In Hamlet, Marcellus, referring to the royal ghost, says: “It faded on the crowing of the cock. Some say that ever gainst that season comes wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated, this bird of dawning singeth all night long, and then, they say, no spirit dare walk abroad, The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike, No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, so hallowed and so gracious is that time.”

The post Witches, werewolves, and Christmas appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. Knitting Gift Tags

Fall just arrived, so of course that means I'm in panic mode about Christmas. !
I finally managed to get the first set of gift tags into the Drawings of Knitting etsy shop, which are all pretty Christmas-y. I'll be adding some sets, and some other non-Christmas colored ones (Navy Blue and Gold) in the coming days.

These are all instant downloads, which means you'll receive a jpg and pdf file of the art, which you then print out yourself. You can print as many as you like or need! 
I may do some note cards, too, we'll see. 

I bought some cool gourds yesterday to draw, for you know, FALL, but am not sure I'll have the time. We're having another heat wave, so it doesn't feel very Fall-ish yet. I'm looking forward to feeling that cool nip in the air, and being able to wear socks and sweaters again. Soon!

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7. Christmas in Nazi Germany

Christmas is the most widely celebrated festival in the world but in few countries is it valued as deeply as in Germany. The country has given the world a number of important elements of the season, including the Christmas tree, the Advent calendar and wreath, gingerbread cookies, and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, “Es ist ein Ros` entsprungen,” […]

The post Christmas in Nazi Germany appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. Why Christmas should matter to us whether we are ‘religious’ or not

There are many aspects of Christmas that, on reflection, make little sense. We are supposed to be secular-minded, rational and grown up in the way we apprehend the world around us. Richard Dawkins speaks for many when he draws a distinction between the ‘truth’ of scientific discourse and the ‘falsehoods’ perpetuated by religion which, as he tells us in The God Delusion, “teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding” (Dawkins 2006).

The post Why Christmas should matter to us whether we are ‘religious’ or not appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. Christmas Already?

It's never too early to start planning for the holidays, right?

I had to get a head start on this one. December 10, 2016 will be the 5th anniversary of Authors in the Park and we will be celebrating in style with the "Christmas Book-tacular"

What is Authors in the Park (AIP)?

It's a local event for local authors. Basically, its a way to promote the little guys (like me). Past events have featured local authors, new break-out writers, regional favorites, international best-sellers and even a rock-and-roll legend. It's a great way to be involved in the community with raffles donated by local businesses, art strolls, wine tastings. We have done quite a lot.

That's why we wanted to go big this year to celebrate. The upcoming event will host 40 authors - who can register here:

Check out the link to see the schedule for the day. I will give you a hint: there will be an author reception, two guest speakers and a huge public expo for authors to sell and sign their works.

Jaimie M. Engleis an award-winning author from Brevard County, Florida. She has written professionally since 2003 with publications in Space Coast Living Magazineand Florida Today Newspaper along with Writer’s Digest and the Dr. Laura Program. She independently published her anti-bullying children’s book Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light in 2013, which won a BRAG Medallion in 2015 and was listed as a Top 10 Book in 2014 by Kid Lit Reviews. She published The Dredge in 2014, an L. Ron Hubbard Writer’s of the Future honorable mentions. Engle ran the Marketing Dept for an independent publishing house and lectures regularly at colleges, conferences, schools, and libraries. She runs her own editing & marketing firm to educate authors on marketing and publicity. Follow her at www.jaimiengle.com and hire her atwww.awriterforlife.com.

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of 16 novels including The Unfinished Gift, The Discovery and When Night Comes. He has won 3 Carol Awards (finalist 6 times), 3 Selah Awards and 3 of his books have been finalists for RT Review’s Inspirational Book of the Year. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Word Weavers International, Dan writes fulltime in the Daytona Beach area. He and his wife Cindi have been married 39 years. You can find out more about his books or follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or Pinterest from his website at http://www.danwalshbooks.com.

There is only one thing missing - YOU!

AIP is extending an open invitation to you, the author, the independent, the self-published, the regional celeb. Registration is open now and space is limited. As of this writing, there are less than 30 tables still available. Early registration ends May 31st and the fee goes up after that. So, don't wait!

Register now and celebrate with us!

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10. Writing a Children's Holiday Story


I know we just passed Valentine’s Day and have not yet reached St. Patrick’s Day, but holiday books have been on my mind.  Recently I read-and rejected-a Christmas story that had many of the red flags I hope not to find in a manuscript.  I feel bad for authors when I send rejections, as I know that their heart and soul are poured into their work. As I’m already thinking about the catalog for the fall and the publication schedule for next year,  now seems like a good time to share my thoughts-scattered as they may be-on writing holiday books for children.

Leprechauns Never Lie

What am I thinking when I pull a holiday story from the stack of manuscripts waiting to be read? First, I hope that it won’t be written in rhyme. Too many people seem to think that stories for children must be written in rhyme. Rhyming is well and good if it suits the story, and the writer doesn’t try to force the rhyme. Yet I often find myself muttering, “Prose is a good thing. Give prose a chance.” as I go through manuscripts with an 8:2 rhyme to prose ratio.

Madison's Patriotic Project

I also hope that the story is about a holiday other than Christmas. Halloween is the second favorite for holiday stories, but Christmas holds a strong lead in the holiday stories submissions stakes. I’m quite fond of Christmas, but there are other holidays where new books would have a better chance of being noticed. 

Then there is the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Syndrome. That’s my phrase for when a writer uses a popular character in a story without researching if it is in public domain. Rudolph has an interesting copyright and trademark history. I won’t go into that here, but if you use a copyrighted/trademarked character in your story, two things happen. The words “copyright issues” come to my mind. I also immediately discard the manuscript.

Check out what holiday books are available. Think about what makes them work well. What ideas do you have that would appeal to readers?  Find out what the publisher chooses to publish.

Humbug Rabbit

Don’t include illustrations. Publishers have art directors who find professional illustrators for projects. 

Then send it to a publisher. We are always looking for the next holiday classic.

What holiday books has Star Bright Books published?

Visit www.starbrightbooks.com to see our holiday books.

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11. The Midwife of Bethlehem, by Shadd Driggs

My book, The Midwife of Bethlehem tells the story of a faith-filled midwife in Bethlehem who was called to the stable to help a couple from out of town deliver a baby.

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12. Christmas in the Mountains

When Christmas rolls around, I am sometimes asked to read a "children's" story at the Christmas Eve meeting.   Some years, I choose better than others. 

This year, I thought I would read "A Certain Small Shepherd" by Rebecca Caudill but my copy has gone missing.  As luck would have it, I own the book "Children of Christmas" by Cynthia Rylant.  This group of holiday stories is just about my favorite collection ever.  Unfortunately, some of the stories affect me emotionally so I can't read them out loud, especially in public.  The story, "Silver Packages" was just right for sharing.  In fact, that story has been turned into a stand alone picture book.

Like Caudill's story, "Silver Packages" takes place in Appalachia.  A rich man shows gratitude to the people who helped him in his time of need by tossing silver wrapped packages from the caboose of a train that wends its way through the mountains right before Christmas.  A boy yearns for one particular toy.  He never receives it.  The presents he does open each Christmas morning are things he needs to stay warm and healthy.  And one day he returns to the mountains to repay that debt.

It was a good choice for read/telling out loud.  If you get a chance, look for these books at your library.  Read "For Being Good"  from "Children of Christmas". 

That's the story I can't read out loud.

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13. End of Year

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14. Merry Christmas!

From Illustration For Kids!

Paula's Blog
Paula's Website

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15. One More Post for the Holidays!

’Twas the Day Before Christmas: The Story of Clement Clarke Moore’s Beloved Poem

By Brenda Seabrook illustrated by Delana Bettoli


I think I’m pretty safe in saying that this famous poem called “A Visit from St. Nicholas” penned by Clement Clarke Moore in 1822 as a surprise for his six children, will probably be read and reread as a family tradition this Christmas Eve, in homes near and far.

But, what may be less well known is the story behind the poem, or as they say, “the story behind the story.” And for my money, those are sometimes the more interesting stories that may even outweigh the poem itself. But not by much, for it’s a great story and a greater poem.

For I love, and I hope you do too, these tales that dig into the creative process of a piece of literature. They let the reader have a peek into what motivated the author,  what got his creative juices flowing, and here, all this, despite a nearing and definite deadline.

Now that is almost as good a piece of storytelling as “A Visit from St. Nicholas” itself.

It involves a “secret” surprise promise of a poem to be written by Clement Clarke Moore for his six children on the Christmas Eve of 1822. The secret is shared with but one of his children named Charity. Will she tell? Read on, as they say, to find out.

Time is tight and there are errands to run and gifts to be bought…and a poem to be written. All this to be done before Christmas Eve dinner is served. No pressure, Mr. Moore.

For Mr. Moore’s children had gotten quite used to that tradition of sitting by the fire while their father spun tales post dinner.

But what would the theme of this Christmas Eve tale entail?

Moore pores over his friend Washington Irving’s accounts of Christmas in something called “Knickerbocker Tales.”

And as both Moore, and wife Eliza have descended from the first Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam, New York, stories of Saint Nicholas abound.

How do you incorporate the joy and wonder of childhood Christmas to children in one poem…and write it in one night?

On Moore’s errand-filled four mile sleigh ride into Greenwich, journeying from and back to his hundred acre farm, he passes fields and farms framed with the new-fallen snow of the night before.

And from that ride comes a slew of inspirational phrases. From his sleigh driver, Patrick, whistling the words,  “On Dasher! On Dancer” to Moore’s team of horses, to spying a nightcap atop a man’s head poking out a window as the sleigh cruises by, to wishing the sleigh could move faster and fairly fly over the house tops as he had on observed a balloon do in his youth, Clement Clarke Moore creatively catalogues each scene, each encounter and each memory. And he uses it later that night to great effect when he finally puts quill to paper.

Even the syncopated beat of the clopping of the team’s horses’ hooves provide the inspiration of the rhythm of his Christmas Eve memory poem, written for his children.

Can he put himself into the mind of his children, or any children for that matter, as they anticipate what it is like to await, dream and imagine the arrival of Saint Nicholas, snug in their beds?

My money is on Moore.

Even Piet, the old Dutch handyman, whose beard is as white as snow, provides Moore with inspiration as Piet slings the bag over his shoulder carrying the family Christmas turkey. Of course, it does help that Piet’s red nose, chilled from the cold, reminded Moore of Saint Nicholas himself.

Can Moore do it? Will he finish the last scrawl from the quilled pen before dinner is served as the six Moore children await the after dinner treat. And yes, Charity has kept the secret for Papa.

Silence greets the finish of his reading. Is it a hit with the younger set? A second, third and even fourth clamor for a reread, proves its worth to his audience.

Sometimes the best presents don’t come wrapped in bows and paper. They are the ones we create with the heart. And Moore’s heartfelt attempt to achieve magic for his children on Christmas Eve has transcended time.

For Clement Clarke Moore did just that for his six children and for generations of children that both hear and recite his poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” written from images culled on that frosty winter Christmas Eve sleigh ride in 1822.

Please do take that famous ride again this Christmas Eve with your children as you read with them this well-researched picture book, beginning with a father’s secret promise to a child, and ending with its fulfillment that still continues to gladden the heart of childhood in 2015.


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16. Merry Christmas Weirdest Holiday Picture Book of All Time!

This is a reprint of a Christmas related post I did about two years ago.  I cannot tell you how often I think of this book.  Eventually I’m just going to cave and buy it.  In any case, Merry Christmas!


In the past I’ve done posts about Weirdo Picture Books and others on Out-of-Print Crimes Against Humanity. Today’s featured book could have fallen into both categories, were it not for the fact that there is justice in the universe. Previously out of print, 1997’s A Small Miracle by Peter Collington is back by popular demand and now available from Knopf in paperback. And well it should be. There’s a reason it was featured in the Publishers Weekly 12th Annual Off-the-Cuff Awards as booksellers’ Book We’re Sorriest to See Go Out of Print.

Here is the plot of the book as described in the SLJ review:

“An old woman, living alone in a trailer, spends her days playing an accordion on the street for money. But times are especially difficult, even in this middle-class town. Desperate, she sells her accordion for cash, only to have it stolen by a masked bandit who then pilfers the poor box from the local church and vandalizes its manger scene. Intercepting the thief, the woman is able to return the money and does her best to set the scene to rights. Then, exhausted and hungry, she collapses in the snow. The manger figures come to life and take her home, where they all pitch in to see that she has her accordion back and that she has food. It’s all part of the miracle that none of the merchants or townspeople are at all surprised at the sight of the small figures making deals at the pawn shop or prowling the aisles at the supermarket.”

I’m glad they mentioned the supermarket because that may have been the point in the book when it totally won me over. Stealing from old ladies can be pretty dark stuff, and the elderly collapsing in the snow is worse, but there’s something so ridiculously charming about the tiny creche figures pushing shopping carts down fluorescent lighted lanes that you can’t help but give in to it.

I wish I could find an image of the shopping scene because it really is worth it. The book is just chock full of these small details that make you want to read and reread the story. There is, for example, the fact that Mary is always holding the Baby Jesus, but that doesn’t get in the way of her helping out. Though obviously she’s not able to remove the old woman from the snow with the other guys, note that she’s holding their Three Kings gifts, crooks, etc. while they take care of things. You know what the book really reminded me of? The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. It’s that remarkable combination of humor and affection and an honestly religious tone. This is a straight up Christian Christmas book. Really good ones are out there, but they’re often a bit more difficult to find than you’d think. This is one of the few.

And who is Peter Collington? Well, according to his website he’s an Englishman residing in Dorset. In his picture books he prefers a kind of wordless paneled technique reminiscent of folks like Raymond Briggs. As far as I can ascertain he’s done a lot of other things lately, but not so much in the way of picture books. He seems to have stopped sometime around the late 90s. If anyone knows more about him, I’d love to hear it.

So there you go. Should you feel inclined to locate a weirdly touching little wordless tale for your holiday enjoyment, seek thee this puppy. I guarantee it’s like nothing you’ve read. And should you have other odd holiday books you’d like to give a shout out to, feel free to list them in the comments here.

For the record, someone did turn this book into a short film, but I feel like the weirdness of the book is completely lost in the translation. Still, if you’re curious you can go here.

Thanks to Alison Morris for the introduction to this book!


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17. No One Will Be Sleeping On The Night Of Christmas Eve...

Merry Christmas, Followers of Mein!

Christmas Eve, for me, is my most favourite day in the world. Everything feels very magical, like anything can happen. When it snows on Christmas Eve, I get so excited.


I have two mindsets on snow.
Before and during Christmas: "Christmas snow is magic, as everybody knows! You'll never see a frowning face on Christmas when it snows!"

After Christmas: "And there's one more thing that I have discovered, And I would now like you to know, The reason for Christmas I now realize is an excuse to tolerate snow! Snow. I don't even like the SOUND of it!"


But anyway, today it is snowing and I'm so happy. 
Merry Christmas!

There is one funny thing I want to tell you. Every year in Tahoe, our fire station decorates a fire truck and it goes around the town, different areas each night, blasting Christmas music and shining with lights and visiting the neighbourhoods, and then the people driving the truck hand out candy canes to the townsfolk. Well, this year, they were apparently not coming to our neighbourhood. Sadness! My whole family looks forward to it every year. It somehow doesn't *quite* feel like Christmas without the fire truck.

Yesterday, I had a couple sisters over for dinner - there was me (Kat), Amanda, Teresa and Maria - and we were going to eat chicken enchiladas and watch Disney's Christmas Carol, followed by Mickey's Christmas Carol. So, we had finished our enchiladas, and were about at Marley's Ghost in the movie, and we paused it to put down coffee, when my sister Amanda suddenly opened the door and stuck her head outside.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"I thought I heard the fire truck," she said. Remember, it blares Christmas music loud. Real loud. Just as she said that, she pointed and said, "There it is! I see it!" It was heading up Ski Run Boulevard toward Heavenly, the mountain where the skiers go. "Do you want to chase it?"

So we all flung on coats and shoes and ran outside, but it had vanished. We ran past a couple streets, but we couldn't even hear the music anymore. "That's sad," Amanda said.

"Do you want to get in the car and see if we can find it?" Teresa asked.

So we ran back to the house, piled into Amanda and Teresa's Landy, and drove up Ski Run, following the fire truck. We craned our necks down each street we passed, trying to catch a glimpse of the lights. We came to the intersection of Ski Run where it connects to Pioneer Trail, and decided to turn right. So we come up to the light, and there is a fire station at this intersection, also to the right. Lo and Behold! There was the Christmas Fire Truck! We screamed so loud, we couldn't decide if we should pull into the station and jump out to holler Merry Christmas, or if we should pull to the side or the road and do the same. As we turned right onto Pioneer, trying to make up our minds, the fire truck started moving, like it was going to leave again. (Perhaps it was refueling its stock of candy canes?) Anyway, so we drove past, hollering like maniacs, and looking behind us to see if it was going to turn right as well and come along behind us, or if it was going to turn left and go back down Ski Run Boulevard.

It turned left.

So we made a frantic U-turn and came roaring up behind it, and idled at the red light. Then, unbelievably, THE FIRE TRUCK RAN THE RED LIGHT, MAKING A LEFT HAND TURN ON A RED LIGHT AND TURNING BACK ONTO SKI RUN BOULEVARD, GOING DOWN TOWARD LAKE TAHOE BOULEVARD!!!

We screamed. "COOOOOOME BAAAACK! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" It was torture, watching it creep down Ski Run and unable to follow.

That was the longest red light ever, you guys. But our light finally went green and we zoomed through and got back behind the fire truck. By this time, we were all starting to feel a bit stalkery and giggling at how weird we were. But you don't understand, this is the Christmas Fire Truck. We look forward to it EVERY YEAR!!!

So we followed the truck, even when it turned right onto Lake Tahoe Boulevard. However, it did make another right turn into a small shopping mall that has a Red Hut, a ski rental place, a salon, et cetera. We prudently let it turn, and passed by and turned right down a different driveway, and then made a few right hand turns until we could get into the shopping mall via a different entrance. And the fire truck had stopped, and was idling in the parking lot and giving out candy canes!

So, we parked and piled out and waved and shouted Merry Christmas, and got our own candy canes.

Then Teresa asked them if they'd go up to Spruce Avenue, because our family would love to see them, and they said YES!

So we piled back into the car, and the fire truck exited the parking lot, but since there are two Spruces in Tahoe and very near to each other, we followed the truck in a roundabout way to make sure it was going to the right Spruce.

Which it did.

Teresa called the family, making sure they knew the truck was coming and to line up outside and wait for it. And they did. And we took a bunch of pictures and so many people came out to greet it and get candy canes. And we all felt like good spirits of Christmas, bringing the fire truck to our neighbourhood! :-)

And that's my funny story of how we didn't expect the Christmas truck, and then we found it and stalked it, and made it come to our house anyway.

Oh, and here's a little Christmas music from our family to you. Merry Christmas!


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18. TV series Christmas stories (link)

The Top Ten Christmas miracle stories on TV episodes from Tor.com: Christmas miracles on TV
I especially enjoyed this list because I haven't seen most of these episodes.

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19. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows ( a Flavia de Luce Mystery #4) by Alan Bradley

It's Christmastime and Flavia de Luce, 11, is anticipating the arrival and capture of Father Christmas, using a concoction whipped up in her fully equipped laboratory, her Sanctum Sanctorum, designed to hold him fast to the rooftop chimney till she can get there.   Once and for all the question of Father Christmas's existence will be answered for Flavia, and what older sisters Daffy (Daphne) and Feely (Ophelia) told her will either be right or wrong.

But before that can happen on Christmas eve, the ancestor home, Buckshaw, is going to be used as a movie set in order to make some money to keep Her Majesty's taxman at bay.  After the movie crew gets itself settled in at Buckshaw, the vicar, Rev. Richardson, asks the movie's leading lady, Phyllis Wyvern, if she would put on a performance with her leading man, Desmond Duncan, to raise money to help pay for roof repairs at St. Tankred's.  The plan is that they will do a scene from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

Because the roof is already caving in, it is decided that the performance would be done at Buckshaw and, since there is already considerable snowing falling, the good folks of Bishop's Lacy will be brought in by sleigh and tractor.  

As the performance begins, the falling snow increases to blizzard proportions, and by the end of the performance, the snow has stranded  everyone at Buckshaw.   As everyone settles in for the night, sleeping on the floor scattered all around, upstairs Flavia decides to go have a midnight chat with Phyllis Wyvern.  Approaching her bedroom door, Flavia can hear a confusing slap-slap sound coming from the actress's bedroom.  Pushing the door open, she discovers a film projector going round and round and then she sees that Phyllis Wyvern is wearing the peasant blouse and skirt of one of her old movies - Dressed for Dying - and has been murdered, strangled with a piece of film from the movie and then tied in a big bow around her neck.

Naturally, Flavia manages to insinuate herself into the investigation once Inspector Hewit of the Hinley Constabulary is brought in,(and after doing her own initial investigations), yet this novel isn't about Flavia's sleuthing skills so much as it is about the de Luce family, past and present.  We are given more background information about the de Luce's, about Flavia's mother Harriet and how much her parents loved each other before Harriet's accidental death.  And, even sisters Daffy and Feely aren't as mean to Flavia as they normally are, especially when she almost becomes the victim of her own plan to discover the truth about Father Christmas.

Bradley has created a very Agatha Christie-like situation involving an isolated country house full of suspects that can't easily get away from the scene of the crime.  And there are suspects galore, but why would any of them want Phyllis Wyvern dead?  Flavia naturally discovers, Phyllis Wyvern has secrets, lots of them.  Some involve the war, some involve her family and others involve professional jealousies, and Flavia is determined to get to the bottom of them all.

I've loved the four Flavia de Luce mysteries I read so far, and, even though I haven't read them in order, it hasn't been a problem.  Bradley gives enough information in each book to inform without over doing it.  And I like that Bradley has included a Christmas book in his Flavia novels, it gives it a more rounded feeling.  This isn't one of the best Flavia book but it is a nice holiday mystery.

And I am anxiously awaiting Flavia #8 - Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd.

This book is recommended for readers age 14+
This book was purchased for my personal library


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20. Top five holiday-related crimes

The holiday season is a time for sharing, spreading peace, and promoting goodwill... but it's also a time went tempers fray, people over-indulge and the outright criminal elements of society take advantage of spirit of the season to wreak havoc. Here are five of the most appalling holiday crimes, from opening presents early, right through to Santacide (not really).

The post Top five holiday-related crimes appeared first on OUPblog.

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21. A Season for Hope

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

By Susan Wojciechowski; illustrated by PJ. Lynch


Okay, here’s an honest take on this season. I am feeling not a bit of the happy holiday ho ho ho this year.

Maybe it’s the state of the world, but then again, the world has always seemed in a state of a huge kerfuffle in some place or another every year.

It just seems that this year, the kerfuffles are more random, more unreasoning and more relentless.

Then..this picture book appeared in the mail. And, I sat with it for what seemed like more than minutes, leafing through the pages and its pictures…. and the portrait of a man.

His name is Jonathan. He’s a woodcarver and that is about all anyone in the small town knows of him – or cares to. He’s called “Mr. Gloomy,” because of his downcast look and gruff manner. Jonathan mumbles, mutters, complains and cavils about the noise of the church bells and the sound of children playing.

Our first instinct is to say, “What a grump,” and let it go at that. But the author doesn’t let it go – or us.

Ms. Wojciechowski, in this 20th Anniversary edition of her picture book which won the Kate Greenaway Medal, gives us a closer look at the mysteries of love and the human heart, and won’t let us look away – like the town.

For she lets the reader know early on the reason why Jonathan Toomey has put a band-like vise around his ability to care or love. And we are the only ones that do.

And it takes a widow, Mrs. McDowell, and her young son, Thomas, and their honest request for help, to release its hold.

They know nothing of his past. They only know and accept the person that they see.

And through their small acts of kindness, without intrusion into his private pain, they find a way in, through his only means of communication that matters to him – his woodcarving.

Requesting a replacement of a lost and carved wooden nativity set, the McDowells ask Mr. Toomey, the “best wood-carver in the whole valley,” to take on the job.

He does, and what follows is the gradual thaw of a solitary human heart, as piece by carved piece, amid their daily quiet visits and proffered small baked goods, Jonathan Toomey re-engages with life – and hope. And so do we.

Rarely have I seen a picture book where word and image meld so masterfully in P.J. Lynch’s paintings, evoking a visceral sense of the struggle it takes for one person to reconnect with life, and the simple ease with which a mother and son understand, and allow someone to be who he is, where he is, and still not click off, as we so often do with “the prickly people,” as I call them.

The New York Times Book Review said of this picture book:


         The tale is unfolded with such

         mastery, humor and emotional

         force that we are entirely in its



And for the time I encourage both you and your young reader to spend this Christmas season with “The Miracle of Jonathan Toomey,” you too will be renewed, revived and reawakened to the possibility of hope in a world that needs it as much as the despairing woodcarver. And maybe more.

There a lesson for me in this picture book, and for anyone that cares to listen.

The question is subtly asked of each of us : In the face of life’s unfairness and sometimes unbearable realities, do we break – or do we break open, to create newness in life.

And here’s the rub: often the answer to the question is not solely in our own hands, but in someone else’s – that helps us “carve” out a new way for us to be.

We are the carvers – for each other!

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Merry Christmas Eve from this little fire starter! 30% off Serafina all day long!

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23. Merry Christmas 2015

  Merry Christmas, Everyone! I hope you have a wonderful week of holidays. It’s time for me to catch up on my reading.  I’ll be back after the holidays (1-2-2016). Until then . . . Read a few good books. Write something wonderful. Get ready for another year of Kid Lit Reviews.    It will be the 5th!Filed …

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24. Santa Claus is Comin to Town

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You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout, I’m telling you why,
Santa Claus is coming to town!!

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25. Happy Holidays

Wherever you are, whatever you celebrate, I hope you have a season full of friendly faces and happy memories. See you in 2016!


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