November 20 – Get Ready for Christmas


About the Holiday

There’s nothing better to get kids in the spirit of Christmas than by sharing holiday stories both old and new. Packed with all the excitement and anticipation of the season, Christmas books offer humor, tradition, inspiration, and new perspectives on this favorite holiday. Stuff your stockings with pre-Christmas reads, and don’t forget that books make the perfect present for all ages!

Thank you to Flyaway Books for sending me a copy of The Worst Christmas Ever for review consideration. All opinions about the book are my own.

The Worst Christmas Ever

Written by Kathleen Long Bostrom | Illustrated by Guy Porfirio


One spring day Matthew and Lucy’s dad came home from work and announced that the family would be moving to California. Lucy was excited, but her big brother was less than enthusiastic. Their mom thought it would be an adventure. That night in bed, Matthew’s dog Jasper licked his tears away. Before they knew it, spring had turned to fall and the moving van was being loaded up. “Matthew watched his life being packed away.”

In California everything was different, from school to church to nature—where the leaves stayed green and flowers bloomed even in the winter. He missed the fun he and Jasper used to have playing in the autumn leaves. Soon, even though it didn’t feel like it, it was almost Christmas and time to get the tree. Mom thought that would get them all in the spirit of the holiday.

But “Matthew muttered, ‘No snow. Worst Christmas ever. It’ll take a miracle to make it feel like Christmas.’” Lucy wanted to know what a miracle was. Matthew told her but was sure they wouldn’t find one there. “‘Oh, yes, I will!’ said Lucy. ‘I’ll find the miracle!’” At the Christmas tree lot—which was a far cry from the tree farm Matthew loved—there were plenty of trees to choose from, but they felt “prickly and dry,” and some were colored pink, purple, or blue with fake snow. Lucy wanted a pink one, but Dad stuck with green.


Image copyright Guy Porfirio, 2019, text copyright Kathleen Long Bostrom, 2019. Courtesy of Flyaway Books.

Back home, Lucy dived under her bed. She was looking for a miracle, she said. Matthew was skeptical, but “he smiled, just a little.” On the Sunday before Christmas, the pastor at church asked for a volunteer family to play the holy family in the outdoor nativity. Dad raised his hand and “Lucy jumped up and down” and offered her doll Gabriela to play baby Jesus. Matthew tried to hide behind the hymn book.

Three days before Christmas Eve, while Matthew and Jasper were at the park, Jasper chased after a squirrel and then seemed to vanish. Matthew rushed home, sobbing. Although the family searched for hours, they couldn’t find Jasper. The next day they handed out flyers and called the shelters, but no one had seen him. On Christmas Eve, Matthew couldn’t get excited about decorating the tree, and Lucy’s constant singing of “Away in a Manger” didn’t help either.

As he participated in the Christmas Eve service, Matthew’s “heart ached for Jasper, lost somewhere in that terribly silent night.” During the last song, Matthew and his family slipped out, put on their costumes and walked to the stable on the church lawn. Lucy put her doll in the manger. As the congregation sang carols in the misty night, Matthew thought he could almost feel the snow he’d left behind.

Suddenly, Lucy shouted, “‘Look!’” The pile of hay was moving! Lucy thought Gabriela had come to life. “‘It’s the Christmas miracle!’” she said. Matthew “lifted the wriggling blanket in the manger and gasped.” It was Jasper, who’d been sleeping deep in the hay. “‘It is a miracle! You found your way…home,’” Matthew exclaimed. And with that he looked around and realized that this was home and this was the “‘best Christmas ever’” because it “had come, right in the middle of Matthew’s feeling lost in the world. Just as it had come that first Christmas, long ago. Ready or not.”


Image copyright Guy Porfirio, 2019, text copyright Kathleen Long Bostrom, 2019. Courtesy of Flyaway Books.

Kathleen Long Bostrom’s emotional Christmas story captures feelings of loss and sadness children feel when life changes or unexpected misfortunes occur. Framed by Christmas, a time of magic, good memories, and miracles, Bostrom’s story offers hope for new perspectives and rediscovered happiness. Through Matthew and his younger sister, Lucy, Bostrom creates realistic portraits of children that will resonate with readers. Her detailed storytelling, rich with dialogue and sprinkled with humor, will charm kids. Matthew’s friendship with Jasper is a highlight, and Jasper’s running off sets up suspense and the joyful ending. The story has particular resonance this year when beloved traditions may change, families may not gather as usual, and the holidays may take on a different feel. Reading the book with children can help them discuss their feelings and find new ways to share the Christmas spirit.

Guy Porfirio’s vivid illustrations shine with realistic action and are especially effective in depicting Matthew’s and Lucy’s emotions and different reactions to moving, a warm-weather Christmas, and looking for the Christmas miracle. Matthew’s close relationship with his dog is sweetly portrayed, and his sadness is evident even as he goes about the traditional Christmas Eve activities. Alert readers may notice the hint of Jasper’s black-and-white tail mixed in with the hay as the family walks across the church lawn to take their places in the stable, letting them experience the giddy excitement of Christmas Eve discovery and also rejoice with Matthew when Jasper is found.

A poignant story that inspires children to look for the promise of Christmas in surprising places and all year long, The Worst Christmas Ever would be a favorite seasonal read aloud that would be asked for throughout the year as well.

Ages 3 – 7

Flyaway Books, 2019 | ISBN 978-1947888098

Discover more about Kathleen Long Bostrom and her books on her website.

You can connect with Guy Porfirio on Twitter.

Get Ready for Christmas Activity


Mini Accordion Book


With this craft you can make a little book for your own writing, pictures, or stickers. With a holiday-themed cover, you can use it as an advent calendar or holiday wish list. This little book would also make a fun gift to make for your friends.


  • 12-inch by 12-inch sheet of scrapbooking paper – single or double sided
  • Decorative scrapbooking paper, wrapping paper, or a page of the child’s own writing or drawing
  • Cardboard
  • Stickers, pictures
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Ruler
  • Pencil



  1. Draw a 3-inch border around the edge of the 12-inch by 12-inch sheet of scrapbooking paper. This will make a 6-inch square in the center of the paper
  2. Draw a line from the top of the paper to meet the left edge of the 6-inch square. The line will be 3 inches from the left side of the paper.
  3. Draw a 3-inch line from the top center of the 6-inch square to the center of the square


To Cut the Paper

  1. Beginning with the line at the top of the piece of paper, cut down the left edge of the 6-inch square.
  2. Cut across the bottom of the square.
  3. Cut up the right side of the square
  4. Cut across the top of the square to the line in the center.
  5. Cut down the 3-inch center line to the middle of the square

To Fold the Pages

  1. Draw light or dotted lines every 3 inches along the strip of paper
  2. Starting at the top of the strip, fold the paper on the lines accordion style.
  3. Make the first fold by folding the first 3-inch section down towards you.
  4. Fold the second 3-inch section back away from you
  5. Continue folding the 3-inch sections down and back until the strip is entirely folded

To Make the Cover

  1. Cut two 3 ½ -inch squares from the cardboard
  2. Cut two 4 ½-inch squares of from the decorative paper, wrapping paper, or child’s writing or drawing
  3. Cover the cardboard with the paper, folding the excess paper over the edges and securing with glue

To Assemble the Book

  1. With the strip of paper completely folded, glue one cover to the top 3-inch square
  2. Glue the second cover to the end 3-inch square

Fill the book with writing, drawings, stickers, whatever!


You can find The Worst Christmas Ever at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review


May 23 – It’s National Pet Month


About the Holiday

During the month of May we take time to be extra mindful of our pets. As the weather becomes hot, pet owners are encouraged to ensure that their pets have the proper care to keep them cool, hydrated, and healthy—and remember, never leave pets unattended in cars with the windows rolled up. Now that nice days are ahead of us, enjoy the opportunity to take dogs on long, leisurely walks or to the dog park and to spend extra time with indoor pets. If you are thinking of adopting a new pet, there are shelter animals that are looking for forever families.

Daisy Gets Lost

By Chris Raschka


Daisy, a sweet, energetic puppy, is enjoying a game of fetch with her little girl. She’s chased her blue ball into the woods where she happens upon a bushy-tailed squirrel gathering acorns. The squirrel knows the jig is up and, tossing away the acorn, takes off running with Daisy close at its tiny heels. Deeper and deeper into the woods they go until the squirrel leaps onto a tree trunk and with some quick scrambling is gone.


Copyright Chris Raschka, courtesy of Scwhartz & Wade

Daisy stops at the base of the tree and peers into the high branches. What does she see? It suddenly occurs to her who she doesn’t see. Where is her little girl? At the same time, the little girl is wondering where Daisy went. “Daisy!” she cries; but Daisy, surrounded by trees, can’t hear her. The little girl begins to search for her pet. She finds the blue ball, but no puppy. “Daisy?” she asks. She picks up the ball and looks right, left, and all around.

Meanwhile, Daisy is trying to find her way out of the forest. She runs right, left, and all around then realizes she is lost. She hunkers down and lets out a plaintive “Aaawoooooooooooooooooooo.” The little girl hears Daisy’s distress signal and rushes toward her, calling “Daisy!” Daisy hears the little girl’s joyful exclamation and bounds forward. They meet in a sweet, tight hug. And while Daisy gives her little girl kisses and the girl holds her close, who does Daisy see spying on them from high in the tree?


Copyright Chris Raschka, courtesy of Scwhartz & Wade

In this nearly wordless sequel to A Ball for Daisy, Chris Raschka once again tells a tale of emotional heft that will resonate with young readers. With a few wavy lines and several expressive smudges, Raschka creates one of the most loveable puppies to ever run across the pages of a picture book. As Daisy, with her ball clasped between her teeth, and the squirrel, with its acorn grasped in its paws, stare each other down, kids will know that the game’s afoot.

But when Daisy and the little girl realize that Daisy is lost, readers will understand their worry and fear, not only for the characters, but on a personal level. Raschka’s bold lines and dense colors depict the impenetrable forest as well as the intensity of Daisy’s and the girl’s feelings. The endearing reunion of Daisy and her little girl will reassure children that their loved ones are never far away. The sly squirrel, reappearing at the end, adds a bit of humor and gives kids an opportunity to extend the story as they imagine Daisy’s next move.

For kids with pets or who love animals, those looking for reassurance, or anyone who enjoys a great story artfully told, A Ball for Daisy would be a wonderful addition to any child’s bookshelf.

Ages 3 – 7

Schwartz & Wade, 2013 | ISBN 978-0449817414

You’ll find a gallery of artwork by Chris Raschka on his tumblr!

National Pet Month Activity


Find the Pet Maze


This detective and her sidekick are searching for a lost pet! Can you help them find a path through the maze to the lost corgi in this printable Find the Pet Maze? Here’s the Solution!