A Poem for Christmas

Happy Christmas from Leeds Libraries to all our blog readers. Here’s hoping you have a lovely time, and you find lots of books under the tree.

 

’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The books were all stacked by the chimney with care,
In hopes Dr. Seuss soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While How the Grinch Stole Christmas crept through their heads;
And in festive bright jumpers and a Santa Claus hat,
We wakened our brains for a literary chat;
When into our discourse there rose such a matter,
Of which story was best, we proceeded to natter.
Little Women by Alcott, a heart-warming tale
Of sharing a feast that is hearty and hale.
And what of Charles Dickens, that classical writer,
Who tells us of Scrooge that miserly old blighter;
When visited by Christmas ghosts numbered three
He realizes his life is a catastrophe.
A Christmas Carol does come in numerous varieties,
With ones for the aged and the youths of societies.
We both liked Miss Christie’s seasonal fair;
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, beware!
Gems hidden in dinner and Poirot prowling round;
Of intrigue and scheming Agatha does herself proud.
The mood then turns sombre, and tears do unfurl
As we consider the fate of Andersen’s Little Match Girl;
Pitied by those who had not shown her kindness,
A lesson to all suffering poverty blindness.
Through a wardrobe we tumble to Narnia’s cold winter-scape,
From the Snow Queen’s harsh rule, we aim to escape;
With four adventurous children and a lion as guides,
Across frost covered hilltops we slip and we slide.
Then arriving home on our hearth, we lay out on a plate,
A pork pie, some turnips, for the Hogfather we wait;
To Pratchett’s Discworld we eagerly go,
Listening earnestly for the cry “HO. HO. HO.”
“Blooming Christmas here again!” is the cry we next hear
As Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas brings on some good cheer.
These famous tales suit a cold winter’s night
When each of should be all snuggled up tight;
So “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
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Christmas Reads

Get the fire on, put on your slippers and pour yourself something Christmassy. That’s definitely a Snowball for me but hot chocolate will do. Settle down and get in the mood for the holidays with this selection of books.

Don’t worry about the shopping – that’s what the internet is for!

Xmas AfterAfter the Snow by Susannah Constantine

Christmas morning, 1969. All eleven-year-old Esme Munroe wants for Christmas is for her mother to be on one of her ‘good’ days – and, secretly, for a velvet riding hat. So when she finds an assortment of wet towels and dirty plates in her stocking, she’s just relieved Father Christmas remembered to stop at The Lodge this year. But later that day Esme’s mother disappears in the heavy snow. Even more mysteriously, only the Earl of Culcairn seems to know where she might have gone. Torn between protecting her mother and uncovering the secrets tumbling out of Culcairn Castle’s ornate closets, Esme realises that life will never be the same again after the snow.

Xmas UncommonThe uncommon life of Alfred Warner in six days by Juliet Conlin

Shortly before Christmas, 79-year-old Alfred Warner arrives at Berlin’s busy central train station, to meet his granddaughter Brynja for the first time. When she fails to arrive, Alfred, afraid and alone, is taken in by a stranger, Julia, who quickly realises that there is something remarkable about him.

Xmas ProjectThe Christmas project by Maxine Morrey

Professional organiser Kate has never been tempted to hit a client over the head with a snow shovel, but Michael O’Farrell is the most obnoxious – and heart-stoppingly gorgeous – man she has ever met. If he weren’t her best friend’s brother, she would not have waited on his doorstep in the freezing cold for five minutes, let alone an hour. Kate knows, however, that her job isn’t just about tidying up, sometimes she needs to be part therapist too, and Michael clearly needs her help to declutter his heart as well as his home. But with the festive season just around the corner there isn’t much time to get Michael’s house ready for the O’Farrell family celebrations, but everyone knows that at Christmas anything can happen.

Xmas ColdCold Christmas by Alastair Gunn

Nobody remembers the young men entering the abandoned London flat a few weeks ago. Nobody cares if they left. Until the unbearable smell of decay. DCI Antonia Hawkins is called in to view the dead men; three, lying neat in a row. There’s no damage to the bodies, no obvious cause of death. Is this a suicide pact? Or is that just how it’s meant to look? But Hawkins soon discovers the link between the three men. They had all been fascinated by the supernatural and the occult. And they had recently met in a tiny village just outside London. A village named Cold Christmas.

Xmas sevenSeven days of us by Francesca Hornak 

It’s Christmas, and the Birch family are coming together at their second home in Norfolk. Emma and Andrew’s daughter, Olivia, is back for the first time in years, and while Emma is elated at them all being under one roof, her younger, more frivolous daughter Phoebe is braced for inevitable clashes. But aid worker Olivia is only home because she has nowhere else to go. Having recently returned from Africa, where she’s been treating a life-threatening virus, she has been told that she must stay in quarantine for a week, and so, too should her family. For the next seven days, no one can leave the house, and no one can enter. It doesn’t sound too hard. But a week with your nearest and dearest can feel like an eternity, especially when they’re all harbouring secrets.

Xmas cakesChristmas cakes & mistletoe nights by Carole Matthews

Fay and Danny are madly in love and it’s all Fay’s ever dreamed of. But she left everything – including the delightful cake shop she used to run – to be with Danny on his cosy canal boat The Dreamcatcher. And as she soon finds out, making delicious cakes on the water isn’t always smooth sailing! Then Fay gets a call from her friends, a call that sends her back to where it all began, back to where she first met Danny, back to her friends and the Cake Shop in the Garden. It will be hard being away from Danny but their relationship is strong enough to survive – isn’t it? Fay soon falls happily back in love with her passion for baking – especially now she’s on dry land again! – and starts to wonder if she ever should have left.

Xmas wellThe well of ice by Andrea Carter

Mid-December in Glendara and solicitor Benedicta ‘Ben’ O’Keeffe is working flat-out on the usual raft of sale closings before Christmas, so the last thing she needs is a complaint about noise emanating from the Oak pub. The one bright spot on the horizon is the anticipation of her first Christmas with Sergeant Tom Molloy. In Dublin to close another sale, she walks out onto the street. Two trams pass each other, and staring at her from across the tracks is Luke Kirby, the man who killed her sister. He approaches her, remorseful, conciliatory, plausible. She walks away. But as she does so, he says something that chills her to the bone. Back in Inishowen, Glendara is in chaos. The Oak has burned down. To make matters worse Carole Kearney, the Oak’s barmaid, is missing. And then on Christmas morning, a walk up Sliabh Sneacht results in a gruesome discovery: a body found face-down in the snow.

And a few for the kids:-

Xmas soulsChristmas dinner of souls by Ross Montgomery

It’s a dark and lonely Christmas Eve in the dining room of ancient Soul’s College. The kitchen boy, 11-year-old Lucas, has helped prepare a highly unusual meal, made with unrecognisable ingredients, cooked by a mysterious chef. And then the guests arrive – and carnage ensues. They are ex-students of Soul’s College, and they are all completely demented. They demand bottle after bottle of wine, flinging their cutlery and howling like banshees until – silence. The Dean of Soul’s College has arrived, and the evening’s ceremonies must begin. For this is the annual meeting of a secret club for those who despise children, warmth, happiness, and above all Christmas.

Xmas LeopardThe storm leopards by Holly Webb

 The countdown to Christmas has begun, and Isabelle and her family take a trip to a nearby zoo, where Isabelle catches a glimpse of a snow leopard. Fascinated by these rare and secretive creatures, Isabelle tries to find out what she can do to help them. Little does she know she’s about to have an amazing snow leopard adventure of her own.

Xmas fatherFather Christmas and me by Matt Haig

It isn’t always easy, growing up as a human in Elfhelm, even if your adoptive parents are the newly married Father Christmas and Mary Christmas. For one thing, Elf School can be annoying when you have to sing Christmas songs every day – even in July – and when you fail all your toy-making tests. Also it can get very, very cold.But when the jealous Easter Bunny and his rabbit army launch an attack to stop Christmas, it’s up to Amelia, her new family and the elves to keep Christmas alive. Before it’s too late . . .

Xmas saurusThe Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher

This is a story about a boy named William Trundle, and a dinosaur, the Christmasaurus. It’s about how they meet one Christmas Eve and have a magical adventure. It’s about friendship and families, sleigh bells and Santa, singing elves and flying reindeer, music and magic. It’s about discovering your heart’s true desire, and learning that the impossible might just be possible.

And some to read out loud:-

Xmas huglessMerry Christmas, Hugless Douglas by David Melling

Hugless Douglas knows what Christmas is all about – it’s excitement, lots of deep snow, finding a tree, sledging and being with friends. And one more thing of course – Christmas hugs!

Xmas wantAll I want for Christmas by Rachel Bright

The countdown to Christmas has begun and there is so much for Little Penguin to be excited about: decorating the tree, cooking festive treats, sending a letter to Santa, wrapping presents, and much more. But what does Big Penguin want for Christmas? The answer will warm the hearts of every penguin, big or small!

xmas itsIt’s Christmas! by Tracey Corderoy

Otto is SO excited for Christmas! He makes Dad’s Christmas cookies look even better by adding globs of frosting and LOTS of sprinkles. When Mom uses new ornaments to decorate the Christmas tree, Otto decides that they need all of the old ornaments, too-especially the star that never stops blinking! But Otto isn’t done-he’s determined to make this holiday the most Christmassy Christmas ever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Advent

This blog is from Rachel, the children’s librarian in Central library.

Book AdventWe are approaching that magical time of year where we count the days till Christmas. I have a daughter who has just turned 3 and doesn’t like eating chocolate (I know it’s hard to believe). So for us chocolate advent calendars are just not that exciting. The one thing she really does love is having stories read to her especially at bedtime. We are strong advocates of the Books Trust’s Bath, Book and Bed campaign, see more here. Each year we just combine the two things, bedtime story and advent and make it a little bit more special in the build up to Christmas Eve. I select 24 picture or board books and individually wrap them with a number tag on, 1-24. Each day we unwrap the book to read for that day. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make books exciting, enjoy those quiet moments of bonding and learn about Christmas traditions.

24 books sounds a lot, but that’s the brilliance of the library service, I just borrow the majority of them. I use some old books we already have at home, I’ll buy a couple of new books for her collection and borrow the rest. I like to get a mix of stories, some about sharing, giving and kindness and some that tell the tale of Christmas traditions. Here are some of my favourites.

Rachel GiantThe Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson.

A story of kindness, sharing and giving. George was very happy being the scruffiest giant in town. But one day, when he sees a shop stocking giant-size clothes, he decides it’s time to update his image. With smart clothes, George is a new man. However, as he goes home, he meets various animals who desperately need his help

Rachel JollyThe Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet Ahlberg.

A lovely story about letters at Christmas time. It’s Christmas Eve and the jolly postman is delivering greetings to various fairy-tale characters – there’s a card for Baby Bear, a game called ‘Beware’ for Red Riding Hood from Mr Wolf and four more surprise envelopes.

Rachel FatherFather Christmas by Raymond Briggs.

Meet Father Christmas: a very human gift-giver with a tough job to do. You’ll find out that he sometimes gets a little grumpy living at the icy North Pole and squeezing down chimneys, but he more than makes up for it in heart and
humor. Raymond Briggs brings this endearing character to life in over 100 wonderfully illustrated vignettes that follow the adventures of Father Christmas on his big night of the year.

Rachel StickStick Man by Julia Donaldson.

Stick Man lives in the family tree with his Stick Lady Love and their stick children three’. But it’s dangerous being a Stick Man. A dog wants to play with him, a swan builds her nest with him. He even ends up on a fire! Join Stick Man on his troublesome journey back to the family tree.

Rachel StockingThe Empty Stocking by Richard Curtis.

This is a fun story about siblings being naughty or nice but ultimately being kind and doing the right thing. It’s Christmas Eve and everyone is asking – have you been good this year? For twins Sam and Charlie this is a big worry. Charlie has been especially naughty and everyone is sure she won’t get any presents at all. But when Santa makes a mistake, it’s up to Charlie to put things right. Will her last-minute act of kindness be enough?

Rachel weeFather Christmas Needs A Wee by Nicholas Allan.

At each different house that he visits, Father Christmas drinks and eats all the goodies left out for him. Before long he really, really, really needs a wee. Find out what happens, and whether Father Christmas ever gets to relieve himself, in this funny counting book from Nicholas Allan

Rachel nightThe Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore.

A classic magical story of the Christmas Eve. ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse’. Clement Moore’s popular festive poem about a visit from Santa Claus, illustrated in colour by Tomie DePaola, is a delight to share with children.

 

Storytime Advent

This lovely idea for enjoying reading with your little ones comes from Rachel, our children’s librarian based at Central library.

storytime-advent-calenderCreate your own storytime advent calendar this year, it’s easy and can be as cheap as you want to make it. All you need is 24 picture or board books individually wrapped and labelled with the date. Then each day of advent you and your child/children can open one and share the book throughout the day. It could be for their bedtime story or just a good excuse to have a cuddle on the sofa with it. It’s a great way to encourage reading because the unwrapping of the book will make it feel extra special. The best bit is that you can wrap up books you already have on their book shelf, go to the library and borrow a pile of books and if you want to add in a few that you have bought that’s fine too. Some old, some new and some borrowed, it’s up to you!

During this busy time of year getting that special 5-10 minutes together reading, laughing, relaxing, pointing out things in the pictures and asking questions about what going on is a lovely way to enjoy this festive season with your children. There are so many books to choose from at your local library and you can take 20 out on each library card but remember to renew them as the loan period is 3 weeks initially. They don’t have to be Christmassy, it completely up to you what you choose, here’s a few books we have enjoyed recently in our home to get you started.

rachel-togetherTogether… by Emma Dodd

This little sea otter loves spending time with his mummy – learning new things, playing together, or even just holding each other. In fact, every day this little sea otter spends with his mummy is special, just because they are together.

rachel-we-found-a-hatWe Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles. And there is only one hat!

rachel-grinch-stole-christmasHow the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr Suess

When he spies the citizens of Who-ville enjoying their Christmas preparations, the Grinch comes down from his cave and makes a dastardly attempt to take all the joy out of the occasion by actually stealing Christmas.

rachel-ten-little-piratesTen Little Pirates by Mike Brownlow

Ten little pirates set out to sea in search of adventure. But what will the ten little pirates do when they meet a hurricane – and a giant squid – and a hungry shark? This fun-filled rhyming story, which incorporates counting backwards from ten to one, is great to share with young children who are learning about numbers. The colourful, humourous illustrations feature objects to spot and count on every page.

rachel-detective-dogThe Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson

There once was a dog with a keen sense of smell. She was known far and wide as Detective Dog Nell. Peter’s dog Nell has an amazing sense of smell. Whether it’s finding a lost shoe or discovering who did a poo on the new gravel path, her ever-sniffing nose is always hard at work. But Nell has other talents too. Every Monday she goes to school with Peter and listens to children read. So who better to have on hand when they arrive one morning to discover that the school’s books have all disappeared! Who could have taken them? And why? There’s only one dog for the job and Detective Dog Nell is ready to sniff out the culprit!

rachel-jolly-postmanThe Jolly Postman by Janet Ahlberg

A delightful postbag of real letters for you to open and read.

rachel-alans-teethAlans Big Scary Teeth by Jarvis

Meet Alan, an alligator with a secret. Famed for his big, scary teeth, he sneaks into the jungle every day to scare the jungle animals. But after a long day of scaring, Alan likes nothing better than to run a warm mud bath and take out his false teeth, which nobody knows about! That is, until his teeth go missing. What will Alan do now? Scaring is the only thing he knows how to do! Can he still be scary without them?

rachel-fredFred by Mick and Chloe Inkpen

‘Fetch!’ and ‘Sit!’ and ‘Stay!’ I understand them all. Those are the words I know. But what is ‘Fred’? Fred the dog may not know his name yet or how to stay out of trouble, but one little boy will love him no matter what. A follow-up to ‘I Will Love You Anyway’, this touching rhyming story is full of friendship and tail wagging, and will touch a chord with all children who love pets.

rachel-snowmanThe Snowman by Raymond Briggs

One winter’s night, a snowman comes to life and an unforgettable adventure begins. Raymond Briggs’ favourite classic is a true piece of Christmas magic – narrated entirely through pictures, it captures the wonder and innocence of childhood and is now recognised throughout the world.

rachel-night-before-christmasThe Night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse’. Clement Moore’s popular festive poem about a visit from Santa Claus is a delight to share with children.

rachel-swanSwan: the life and dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder