by Fiona Watt
Illustrated by Rachel Wells
published by Usborne Publishing, London, 2016
It was my eight year old son who grabbed this book off the shelf last night and begged me to read it. And then demanded to touch the textured part of each page.
So while these may be designed for the youngest of children, it has appeal to many age groups!
A series of Santa’s elves are shown, each with an explanation of how it is different to ‘my’ elf. Each page has a different texture included for little fingers to explore.
The pictures are cute and brightly coloured which makes the book appealing to all. I like that these books are interactive and teach young children various adjectives, and think that this should be on every baby/toddler Christmas bookshelf!
So how many unwanted presents did you get for Christmas?
Most of us try hard to give gifts someone wants to get, but not everyone gets it right so we sometimes (often?) get gifts that are not useful or not suitable for us.
Seriously, what do you do with those presents? Let us know in the comments as we all come across this issue from time to time!
I can’t say I’ve tried all of these, but here are some ideas for those presents when you can’t openly improve the situation…
Day 23! That means we’re almost finished our advent calendars and Christmas is almost here…
The Lego City calendar produced a sleigh tonight – to which the husky from last night can be attached to pull it along.
My daughter discovered a snowman in her Lego Friends calendar – one that looks quite different to those already discovered in the City calendar this year or in the 2015 Friends calendar. Given it’s shape and size, I’m now wondering if last night’s table was meant for the Christmas pudding, or as a stand for the snowman! What do you think?
SO it is looking like Santa will arrive in Lego City on Christmas Eve – but will he also arrive for Naomi and Emma?
And if you are keenly following along with our advent calendars, you can do back to day one or sneak back to read what happened in 2015.
Day 22 – the big question from now on is ‘where is Santa?’ With only three flaps left in advent calendars, there are not many more options for when Santa appears! Logically, it will be on Christmas Eve 🙂
Neither calendar provided Santa or anything Christmassy… again, my daughter was upset at the non-Christmas element and was in tears because “a table is boring!” I explained the table suited last night’s Christmas pudding, but she remained disappointed.
The City calendar contained a husky dog, some bones and a water trough with bucket.
Wow, we’re onto day 21 so there are only three more flaps to open – and school has now finished for the year around Australia so the excitement is definitely building now 🙂
Lego City now has a Christmas tree, complete with a star on top and some lights.
Day 20 of the Lego Friends calendar showed up a stove and a big chicken leg – even the chicken had to be put together in Lego fashion!
On Saturday night we were lucky enough to be amongst the Melbourne Zoo members who attended their Christmas party.
It was a lot of fun!
For our turn with Santa, a Christmas fairy greeted us and took us into Santa’s cave for a personal chat with Santa then a chance to take a photo. Each child also got an early gift, but only if they could answer a special question from Santa (like “how many reindeer pull my sleigh” and “name two of my reindeer other than Rudolph“.)
Within the winter wonderland, there were multiple snow machines, a couple of craft activities, a silent disco (we spent ages in there!), a family photo scene (complete with snow covered mountains and a Rudolph statue) and a chance to pose with the Penguins of Madagascar.
A jungle gym, festooned in tinsel and bells was very popular, as was an inflatable maze. There was also a little kids area with Christmassy playthings and dressups.
We were at the zoo, so of course we also walked around to see some animals before enjoying the Christmas activities. Unfortunately, many of the animals had decided to have a nap or otherwise stay out of view so we didn’t see many, but it was nice to walk around in the evening and experience a different sort of atmosphere at the zoo.
To keep us all entertained outside of Winter Wonderland and Santa’s Cave, there were various entertainment options provided.
Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2013
It’s Christmas Day and a family heads of for Christmas with Granny and Pa. Much to the children’s horror, the parents won’t let them take Ruby the reindeer with them after the trouble she caused last year, so she goes to the zoo for the day instead.
I really enjoyed this story book. It is Christmassy but has a very different story that is fun and keeps the kids wondering what will happen next.
The zoo animals are feeling sorry for themselves as they get lonely on Christmas Day (which led us to talk about the fact that Melbourne Zoo is open and has keepers on Christmas Day). Ruby had an idea of letting the animals mingle and party, which seemed to go ok at first but then the inevitable problems arise.
Ruby sees Santa’s sleigh go past and asks for help, naming all nine reindeer.
My kids reacted to “I don’t think [Santa] even believes we exist” – my six year old just could not understand how anyone could not know about zoo animals – and “Good tidings, good cheer! Mind the elephant poo!” (they may that hysterical, of course!)
The book rhymes throughout which delighted my seven year old and adds some rhythm and fun to the experience, too.
Pictures throughout are colourful and simple, matching the story perfectly. And some sparkly texture on the front cover makes it all a little bit more special, too. It’s all good fun and I recommend it.
Greenberg has written another naughtiest reindeer book and some others, and based on this one, I’ll be keeping an eye out for them 🙂
My daughter was very excited to find a Christmas related set of Lego for day 17. She found two presents – she had to make the gift boxes and had little hair clips to put inside the gifts.
Her brother was happy to have the second part of the bakery stall to put together.
Both children found their advent claendars today built on what they found on day 17. Lego City’s bakery stall now has a uniformed firefighter serving biscuits!
The Lego Friends calendar produced a Christmas tree to put the presents under. The tree was a little difficult to build – pieces on different angles based on a single connection point made it easy for pieces to fall apart as we pushed on them (and I say we but my six year old couldn’t do it so I ended up making the tree, although she added the star!)
With only a week to go to Christmas, here are some of the previous days of the 2016 Lego advent calendars.
Ok, it is actually Saturday morning but I am sharing the Lego advent calendars fro Fridday as we lost power last night and I couldn’t access the internet to post this.
Again, my daughter was questioning the Christmas aspect of the Friends calendar so I am trying to explain that not everything in an advent calendar has to actually be about Christmas. But given her enjoyment of making things, she was very happy to put together a craft table and glue bottle.
My son found a plane in the Lego City calendar. I wondered if it would turn out to be a shuttle and part of a rocket (as happened last year) but we’ll have to wait until tonight to find out!
by Steve Smallman
illustrated by Robert Dunn
AliCat, South Melbourne, 2012
The book starts with Santa and a little old elf preparing the sleigh and reindeer for his trip Down Under. It then covers the flight, including getting lost in cloud, and delivery of the gifts.
Santa is nice and cheery, a young reindeer is bright and finds the way to Perth’s Bell Tower, and Santa’s magic is throughout the book. So it was a fun and happy read.
Interestingly, Perth got the most mentions but Santa then went onto the other major cities (though one does wonder why he went to Alice Springs, then the east coast before going to Darwin!). One spread includes many recognisable structures, although predominantly Sydney and Melbourne, and the last page sees Santa flying home over Sydney rather than Darwin…
As a positive, the Santa-nav uses kilometres and there is no snow in Australia, Santa refers to little Aussies and ‘crossed the Equator and headed down under’. I was less happy with children leaving out ‘cookies and milk’ and a reindeer snack was left inside rather than out on the grass as I’ve always known to do.
Astute children may ask why Santa went straight home after Darwin rather than delivering gifts to children in other countries (and my seven year old did notice!), but that didn’t detract from the overall story.
As always, it’s nice to see a book centred around places you know, so Aussie kids are bound to enjoy this book. And children elsewhere may well enjoy the story in its own right and get some interest out of seeing some views of down under!