A Holiday Read: A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

I am always on a lookout for good holiday-time reads as my family has a tradition of reading special holiday stories every December. The newest addition to our “Book Advent” library is “A Boy Called Christmas” by Matt Haig. We opted for an audiobook this time, read by Stephen Fry.

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The book is a take on a story of Santa Claus, who he was and where he lived before he became, well, what he is now. It is a story of a small boy Nikolas, nicknamed Christmas for being born on Christmas Day. He lives in Finland with his father, until his father goesaway in search of evidence of an elf village. Nikolas heads in search of his father and goes through plenty of trouble before he reaches elf village. He has to deal with his awful aunt Carlotta, help a stray wounded reindeer and fight a murderous troll and a crazy elf. There are cute sidekicks such as tame mouse, a kidnapped elf-child and little Nush (another elf) and her grandpa. The story was exciting and kind, there were moments that almost brought my kids to tears, and those that made them roar with laughter (i.e. a reindeer getting a sweet revenge on a dreadful aunt).

Overall impression in my son’s words: “I enjoyed the story, except the part with Aunt Carlotta. It taught me that people are not what they seem and that things that you believe can actually be real.” My daughter says: ” I loved this book because it was full of wonderful adventures.” They are listening to it again as I type it, so it’s definitely a favorite for this holiday season.

I received this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

THE BEST SEASON OF ALL 2015: Days 8-13

Another week flew by and half of December is gone. We had lovely week of small, quiet celebrations. Here what it was like:

On Tuesday there was another lovely concert with D.’s choir- his division performed in the nursing home nearby and as always, wonderful singing and warm, holiday atmosphere.

 

Wednesday kids opened their new winter books.

TBSOA 2015: new booksFor C. it was “Snow Rabbit” by Camille Garoche- a wordless picture book about a paper rabbit that turned real and two sisters that went chasing after him.

Snow Rabbit

D. got Neil Gaiman’s “Odd and the Frost Giants” and he loved it.

Odd and the frost giants

 

On Thursday we tried finger knitting, I must say it was crazy difficult for me and C., I am not a knitter at all and crochet but a little. C. didn’t have patience. But D. got a hang of it and had fun finger knitting for a while.

TBSOA: fingerknitting

 

On Friday D. and his dad had a lovely family karate class and we got our tree after. We usually get a small tree to fit into our tiny living room, but this year the choice was either microscopic or 6 feet tall. So we got 6 feet tall one. It’s weird to have such a big tree again and it takes up half of the room, but ids are absolutely thrilled.

On Saturday we made a few decorations as per our annual tradition and decorated our tree.

D. went for a paper house, inside tha box is colored as a room

D. went for a paper house, inside tha box is colored as a room

C. painted a shell with acrylic paints. As always, I love her colors and especially how she incorporated gold paint

C. painted a shell with acrylic paints. As always, I love her colors and especially how she incorporated gold paint

I of course went with felt and made a simple heart

I of course went with felt and made a simple heart

 

our not at all tiny tree

our not at all tiny tree

Sunday was a card making day, kids made a bunch of cards for their friends and teachers.

Monday they started their annual lego village display

TBSOA 2015: Lego village

 

We watched “It’s a Wonderful Life!”, kids for the first time. Elves have been visiting and putting tiny presents for kids under the tree…I draw some holiday cheer too

TBSOA 2015 :mama draws

I keep doodle diary this season and it’s filling up little by little

two weeks of events

two weeks of events

Wishing wonderful holidays to everyone!

 

 

THE BEST SEASON OF ALL 2015: Days 4-7

Our season of small celebrations continues.

Day 4: Family movie night! Kids watched Home Alone for the first time, I haven’t seen this movie in more than 20 years so it was nice to return to childhood for a little bit (but I do admit I cringed at injuries of unlucky thieves, ugh).

Day 5: We put a little bit of lights outside

TBSOA 2015- lights outside

 

Day 6: D. and his choir performed in Christmas Concert and it was absolutely amazing. Well done once again!

TBSOA 2015- CHoir

 

Day 7: It was our “Winter Art” day. We read one of our most beloved winter books – “Buying Mittens” by Nankichi Niimi, such a lovely, kind tale and Kurai Ken’s illustrations are gorgeous!

Kids then painted their own illustrations- splitting the task, D. painted background and made a tissue paper foxes applique on it and C. created mittens for the little fox.

TBSOA 2015- winter art

 

I did a little bit of winter art myself, comparing forest scenery and what it’s like in the city

more at instagram

We listened to a lot of holiday tunes, kids also watched Russian movie “The Snow Queen”, beautiful fairy tale.

The song of the first week of holiday celebrations is Ukranian song Shchedryk (more known to English speaking friends as “Carol of the Bells”

 

THE BEST SEASON OF ALL 2015: Day 1-3

We have successfully started our December celebrations.

It feels very nice to ease into days of candlelight, baking side by side and slowing down to watch the year end.

 

Day 1-3 of our December went well, kids cut out some paper snowflakes, we put up lights at home and today we baked our first batch of cookies.

 

BSOA -snowflakes

 

rolling out lights is probably just as much fun as hanging them up

rolling out lights is probably just as much fun as hanging them up

 

Vienna crescent cookies, the recipe is very easy -  2 1/3 c of all purpose flour +1/3 c of almond meal +pinch of salt - mix together; 1c of softened butter +1/3 c of sugar - mix until fluffy; slowly add flour; chill for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F and bake about 12 minutes. Dust with confectioners sugar.

Vienna crescent cookies, the recipe is very easy –
2 1/3 c of all purpose flour +1/3 c of almond meal +pinch of salt – mix together; 1c of softened butter +1/3 c of sugar – mix until fluffy; slowly add flour; chill for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F and bake about 12 minutes. Dust with confectioners sugar.

I made some holiday sketches:

TBSOA- drawing 1

 

TBSOA- drawing 2

 

We read “Snow” by Uri Shulevitz and “Tiger in the snow” by Nick Butterworth. It’s amazing how kids are still enjoying picture books that they loved as babies.

We also read e.e. cummings’ “Little Tree”, from Literary Advent by Book Riot. I read The Gift of the Magi by O’Henry  on my own and will re-tell this lovely story to kids too.

Overall we had good three days and looking forward to more.

Wishing a most wonderful Advent to all!

Wishing a most wonderful Advent to all!

Lunar New Year

Our week flies buy in another blur of business, but we did have a little event for Lunar New Year yesterday.

First, we talked about why some people celebrate New Year’s arrival on the days other than January 1st  (such as Rosh Hashana, Russian “old style” New Year (January 13th) and Lunar New Year among them). Then we read D is for Dragon Dance by Ying Chang Compestine (affiliate link) to see the major elements of Chinese New Year Celebration.

d is for dragon dance

Then we read about the legend of Chinese Zodiac animals in Russian (Легенда о Восточном Календаре. Мария Ершова, Игорь Олейников. Еще мы  прочли Нианское чудовище, тоже Олейникова иллюстрации)

legenda o vostochnom kalendare

nianskoe chudoviwe

and read our horoscopes for the upcoming Lunar Year, C. was delighted to find that she will have a very lucky year, D. was promised reward for his hard work, mine was more or less ok, my husband’s year is supposed to be luckier than the one that just ended. We’ll see 🙂

We did a couple of simple art projects

1. The idea for this finger print art came from this blog. It’s a simple and fun art project. First children painted their backgrounds using watercolor paints. Second I printed out some articles in Chinese (you can use newspaper too if available in your area) and children cut out buildings. Third, buildings are pasted onto the background. Children added cute panda stickers (affiliate link)  too. Then they put yellow and red blobs on the page (we used acrylic paint and brushes for that, but for tiny artists fingerprints would be more fun). After everything was dry, children connected their lanterns to create a garland, and added fireworks in the sky.

D.'s artwork

D.’s artwork

C.'s scenery

C.’s scenery

2. The second art project was to create a sheep- symbol of the new Lunar Year. Children painted the background -sky and grass, then painted the sheep- paying attention to the head and legs and just outlining the body. The body was filled in with pom-poms and cotton balls. Since it’s the year of Wooden Sheep they used some brown pom-poms in addition to the white ones. Oh, and don’t forget the googly eyes 🙂

D's sheep

D’s sheep

C. draws rainbows a lot nowadays, I love her sheep's ears too :)

C. draws rainbows a lot nowadays, I love her sheep’s ears too 🙂

So, this was our little event for this Lunar New Year celebration. Hope the Year of the Sheep will bring a good fortune to everyone!