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Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.”  ~ Elizabeth Hardwick

I love books. My only complaint is that I don't have as much time to read them as I would like. Sigh.

Both Hubby and I buy a fair amount of books throughout the year. Personally, I can't help myself. I'm instantly drawn to the crisp, white pages and the new stationery smell. I have a healthy stack on my bedside table that are just waiting for my attention.

Our kids like books too. We started reading books to them at a very young age. One of my favourite photos of my 8yr old is of him, aged about eight months, lying on a blanket in our then unfurnished formal dining room, pointing to a Spot book, as if he was reading the words. At six months of age, we would read to him and say, "Now turn the page," and dutifully, he would.

I don't like buying my boys 'gifts' throughout the year. It happens on occasion for various reasons, but I'm not keen on it. I'd rather stick to Christmas and birthday gifts. I'm conscious about sending them a message that 'money doesn't grow on trees'. (I'm not sure I'm succeeding in that lesson, but Hubby and I will give it our best shot.) However, there is one item I don't mind buying them throughout the year at all, and they are always on the birthday and Christmas lists too, because they are just too important not to be around the home.


When Black Dog Books offered to send some picture books my way to review, I jumped at the chance to take a look with the kids. Every night we read before bed (and often the 3yo and I will read a few stories during the day as well), and the night they arrived, the 8yr old sat down on the couch with the 3yr old and began to read to him. (I love it when my 8yo and 6yo read to their little brother.)

I was in the kitchen preparing dinner and I could her the boys laughing and laughing from their possie on the couch. They were reading the first of the three books we received Katrina Germein's My Dad Thinks He's Funny.

Don't you love Dad jokes? I'm always teasing Hubby that he's become one of 'those' dads, because he's always using them. Imagine then how amazed I was when I read the book and discovered just how many of the Dad jokes I use with my kids too?

The book is written from a little boy's perspective about all the Dad jokes he hears from his Dad, and there are some classics.

'When people say, "Would you like sugar" Dad says, "I'm sweet enough." ' 

Lord. How many times have I used that one?

The kids thought this book hilarious, and I really enjoyed reading it with them because it took me back to my childhood and Dad using the same jokes. The illustrations (by Tom Jellett) are also great (there's even a maze on one page which the kids loved doing as well). It's a book you can totally relate to. It's also totally funny! Your kids will love it.

The next book we picked up was Heath McKenzie's The Aussie Nutcracker. The boys were fascinated by this Aussie take on the much-loved classic Christmas story, and didn't move an inch during my reading of it. Completely drawn in! What I love about books, is how they can create further discussion, and we started talking about the Nutcracker and about ballet and Australian animals.

The illustrations are gorgeous, and the kids particularly loved that the Nutcracker was a kangaroo version of the soldier! This will undoubtedly become a favourite Christmas story we'll read each year.

The third book is one of the most beautifully illustrated picture books I've seen to date, called All Through the Night by Dean Jones.

First up, the kids loved the Special Ticket that comes with the book. It's an actual ticket that sits in a sleeve on the title page. Then Dean takes us on a magical train journey, through a young boy's dream, which is filled with amazing pictures of the boy's train traveling over oceans, through clouds (including past the Sandman who lights the way with his lantern and sprinkles bubbles over the boy), past the moon (which snails, whose shells pose as alarm clocks, symbolically eat away at the moon) until he finally arrives at a new day. The 3yr old especially loved all the pictures, and we found ourselves spending quite some time on each page, because there was just so much to take in.

If you're needing an extra Christmas present or two for your kids, consider picking up one - or all three! - of these. You won't regret it.


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