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Archive for Santa’s Night Before Christmas

American Library Association Youth Media Awards Caldecott and so on! #ALAYMA

American Library Association Youth Media Awards! Today was a big day in the children’s book world.  It was like the Oscars for youth books.  There was all kinds of excitement as the American Library Association presented the 2015 Youth Media Awards.  If you love children’s books, I encourage you to check out all of the honorees.www.ilovelibraries.org/yma.  I couldn’t help but watch, as Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas had been sent in.  And well, though it tends to be only large publishers recognized, one just never knows. American Library Association Youth Media AwardsThere are a slew of books if you are interested– in just about anything.  There seemed to be an assortment of winners, ranging from diversity topics, homosexuality, and even just for fun books.  As an author of a children’s book (We’re Having A Tuesday) that helps kids with seeing their own situations and being able to relate, I was happy to see the myriad of topics addressed.  There is nothing quite like having a book help a child feel like they are not the only one who feels that way. It is even better if they are books that will work as read aloud books, as then they can go one step further, in which they can foster discussion.  I really love books that do that.  I will look forward to reading and writing about some of them here in the coming weeks.  Also, as an author of a book that is strictly for the pure pleasure of reading for fun, laughing and using our imagination Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas, I was very thrilled to see that the winner of the Caldecott Award this year appears to be just that kind of book.  I have not seen it myself yet, but The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, has moved up high on my priority list of books to read.  I love nothing more than a book that just carries kids away.  I can’t wait to read it!  There were all kinds of awards, and all kinds of books.  So I recommend if you have any interest in reading out loud to kids that you check them out. They cover picture books, chapter books, and even audio books.  You are bound to find something that your little listener will enjoy hearing.  And if you are reading out loud, maybe a family read aloud, or to an older group of kids in middle school or even high school, be sure to check out the Alex Awards, as they are books that are recognized as adult books that a teen audience is likely to enjoy.  Just check them all out on the list!  If you are like me, your library hold list, or your books to buy list might grow by leaps and bounds after reviewing it.  And if you want even a little bit more excitement, watch the replay video of the announcements here.  To me, there isn’t much more exciting than hearing a room full of people cheer about BOOKS for KIDS! I love the American Library Association Youth Media Awards.  Makes me want to buy up a pile of books!

And because I just cannot close without at least one book recommendation, today I will focus on the 2014 Newberry Medal winner, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell. This is a darling chapter book complete with wonderful illustrations.  To me it is a great bridge for kids that are getting to big for picture books, but might not be quite ready for books without any pictures at all.  It is a whirlwind tale about a girl, a squirrel, and superhero type adventures.  It made me think of crazy old cartoons where the characters were getting into slapstick humorous trouble.  I loved the use of vocabulary in this book.  I think most kids would be pretty anxious to see what happens next.  The only thing I didn’t like about it was the part in which they turn the Mom into a lunatic stressball smoker, complete with an illustration.  Couldn’t she have been crazily chomping ice, or eating lollipops, or winding ringlets in her hair?  I just hate anything in kids books that makes it seem like smoking is ever ok.  Sometimes I have to overlook it when a book was written long before we knew better, but this one is not that case.  In any case, don’t let that detract you from an enjoyable ride.  And maybe use the smoking as a talking point with your kids.  I liked it!

Great Christmas Eve Read Aloud: Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)

If you are looking for a great Christmas Eve Read Aloud to read to your family while you try to settle everyone down for bed, this is it. Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) It is a beautifully illustrated tale that has kids and adult laughing out loud.  If you have it on your December Bucket List to find a new book to add to your holiday book collection, you may have found one worthy of consideration!  December Bucket List: Find a new great read aloud for Christmas EveIf you haven’t got it already, this is a great chance.  We are still offering FREE Priority shipping today and tomorrow, in hopes that you will receive just in time for your holiday traditions.  I love reading our favorites year after year, and this is sure to become a favorite for many this year!  Order your book here!

And if you miss out on getting the hardback book delivered in time, you can always check out our interactive version which is really great fun for your iphone, or ipad!  Check it out here!  You will have the chance to break ornaments on the upside down tree, turn snowmen upside down, change Santa’s suit color, hear funny carolers, and listen to jets and bells ring.  It will even read the story out loud to you.  Not to be missed! Even the app makes a really great Christmas Eve read aloud!

 

Enjoy, and have a Merry Christmas!

 

Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas Cookies

Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas Cookies??  Ever since we began dreaming of all the things that would go wrong with Christmas if Santa’s suit turned purple, the ideas have snowballed.  You can see many of them of course in the book.  Like upside down snowmen, and jets instead of sleighs.  We imagined tea and honey instead of milk and cookies.  But the things that we have imagined are probably only just beginning.  We challenge you to come up with your own zany, wacky inspirations of how Christmas might be different.  We challenge you to do them at home. We challenge you to use them in the classroom.  And this week, one very inspired reviewer has done just that! Check out Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas cookies!  Baking in the classroom: Santa's Just Not Right Christmas CookiesThey have made it to our recent December Bucket List for sure!  And they easily can be used in the classroom for an art project and a fun Santa’s Night Before Christmas Cookie party!  We just want to run to the kitchen and get baking.  We’ve posted enough to get you started, but please for full recipe (and many other fun recipes!) please see A Mama, Baby, and Sharpei!  If you need a copy of the book to go along with these treats, of course you can get more information about the hardback, kindle, or interactive touch app, all on the Book page here.

SANTA’S JUST NOT RIGHT CHRISTMAS COOKIES
INGREDIENTS:                                                                           yields 2-3 dozen cookies

  • 1 C Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 1.5 C Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1.5 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2.5 C All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • Purple Food Coloring (I recommend gel coloring)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar together with the paddle attachment on low-speed so that the sugar doesn’t fly up in a cloud. Once the sugar has been mostly incorporated into the butter, turn up the speed, beating the butter mixture until it is creamy and thoroughly incorporated.

Then add the egg to the butter mixture, beating until just incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and baking soda and once that is thoroughly mixed in, add the flour, one cup at a time until it is all mixed in. This creates a batter-like dough that will be very soft. Dab in the purple food coloring and mix at a low-speed, or by hand, until the entire dough is colored to your liking. Remember that the color will brighten as it rests in the fridge.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead it into a soft ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour while kneading. Transfer the dough to a wax-paper lined plate, then press another piece of wax paper on top of the dough, flattening it into a round disc, the size of the plate between the two sheets of wax paper. Tuck the extra ends of the wax paper under the dough disc to keep the dough from drying out. Place the dough in the fridge for at least three hours or overnight to firm-up.

Once it has rested in the refrigerator, tear off a one-third section of the dough and place it on a floured work surface and keep the rest of the dough in the fridge. Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper and pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thickness, making sure to flip the dough to keep it floured or it will stick to the work surface. *I prefer a 1/2 inch thickness in a roll-out cookie because they will remain soft and fluffy, even after decorating. If you prefer a more crisp cookie, I recommend rolling the dough to a 3/8 inch thickness*

Use a cookie cutter to cut the desired shapes. Place the cut cookies on the baking sheet, two inches apart as you prepare them. Once the baking sheet is full, place it in the oven and bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes until the edges just start to darken. If you try to lift the cookies and they are still very soft, give them another minute or two. Transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack until they are cooled to room temperature. Repeat with the dough in the fridge until you have made all of the cookies you desire.

Now on to decorating!! Use your imagination! We made a batch of Purple Royal Icing to pipe the details onto our cookies and to help our sprinkles and candy buttons and ornaments to stick to the cookies. But feel free to mix up any color you like and add any decorations you desire! I’ve included the recipe for the Royal Icing below which makes more than enough icing for 3 dozen cookies, we made just a half batch and still had plenty more icing leftover.  For full recipe for Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas Cookies again see …..A Mama, Baby, and Sharpei!Santa's Just Not Right Christmas cookies at home or in the classroom!

 

December Bucket List: Reading Santa’s Night Before Christmas

A December Bucket List? Are we here already? Wow!  Is it really already December 13th?  I feel like I am still in Thanksgiving mode.  I have been busy doing all kinds of things though in anticipation of Christmas in which we are now in the downhill stretch.  I found the cutest pin on Pinterest awhile back about a December Bucket List.  I decided to make my own list of things I hope maybe to get done this December (or maybe next…or next..or next!!)  Maybe it is a lifetime December Bucket List.  Here goes 20 to work for!December Bucket List: Reading Santa's Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)

1)Read Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right), and many of our other favorite Christmas books (we still love the original Night Before Christmas and Snowmen at Night!) out loud to my own kids, as well as to some other kids who aren’t my own. (Nieces and nephews, kids in a classroom, kids at a library, maybe at a children’s hospital – or wherever might feel good!) For me a December bucket list would not be complete without this, and I probably won’t have to try hard to remember to do it.

December Bucket List: Make pink popcorn to go along with all the other zany ideas in our book Santa's Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)2)Make homemade pink popcorn and serve hot cocoa from scratch for either a Christmas book reading night, or movie night. (check out this yummy pink popcorn which will go perfectly with the zany upside down antics of Santa’s Night Before Christmas….) Pink Popcorn Of course there isn’t much better than fresh regular popcorn popped in oil drizzled in fresh butter and salt right on the stove either.  I may have to squeeze in both!

3)String cranberries and popcorn for the tree.  This always puts such magic on our tree. And the chatter as we do it is so much fun!  It’s like baking cookies but without feeling guilty for eating all the dough! Just buy fresh cranberries, pop the popcorn the old fashioned way on the stove, get needle and thread and away you go.

4)Go ice skating on an outdoor rink.  There is something magical about doing this.  It always makes me feel like I’m in the holiday spirit. This makes my December Bucket List, but if I miss, I’ll be happy to make up in January or February.purple-chocolate-chips

5)Bake SANTA’S JUST NOT RIGHT CHRISTMAS COOKIES.  Need I say more?  Baking is on most everyone’s December Bucket list!Yum and fun!  Every year we love to bake cookies, but this year I have to say I’m going to have to try these special ones that were created just for us. Recipe here!  Of course some really want to get crazy and make the purple chocolate chips. Who can blame them?? Hoping for blueberry blue reindeer this year myself.  In any case make some to go with the book.  Super darling.December Bucket List: Santa's Just Not Right Christmas Cookies

6)Go Christmas caroling.  I always want to do this.  It has been so long since someone has rang my door.  But I love it when they do!

7)Go on a sleigh ride.  Or hay ride. Or horse and carriage ride.  Whatever the vehicle, it is always a special night out! What December Bucket list treat!

8)Have a Santa party.  We used to do this when the kids were little.  We had a very special Santa who would stop by.  Every parent would secretly leave a wrapped gift with their child’s name on it on our front porch.  Then a little bit into the evening Santa would arrive, gather the presents, put them in his bag, and then come inside and deliver them.  It was such delight to see the kids light up when Santa came with something they wanted and delivered it in person.  I need to do this again soon!

9)Make a Gingerbread house.  Darn it.  I’ve not done this one STILL.  Oh how I want to try!

10)Eat a candy cane.  Wow, when is the last time I actually did that?December Bucket List: Eat a Candy cane while reading Santa's Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)

December Bucket List: Build an upside down snowman to go along with the book, Santa's Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)11)Build a snowman.  Olaf has become somewhat of an obsession for me this year, and I can’t help but singing “Do you want to build a snowman?” every other day.  (Or a myriad of other tunes from Frozen!) Just waiting for the flakes to fly!   If you must hear it again now- like I did as I was writing, click here.  Maybe you can build an upside down one, like in the book. Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)

12)Sit on Santa’s lap.  We took a great group photo a few years back with my then teenage kids.  It is still fun!

13)Drive around and look at Christmas Lights!  I’m ready.  With the internet and  mapping so easy at our fingertips, we can look them up and really go find the great ones!  Maybe there is an app for that!?!?

14)Sit by a roaring fireplace. Drink hot cocoa or hot toddies.  But put on the Christmas music and enjoy!

15)Christmas Scavenger Hunt– I have been determined to do this for years.  There are lots of places to find lists and riddles on the internet.  So many ways to do it, easy or really complicated. Can’t wait to try this one out!  Here is an easy one I liked. Scavenger Hunt

16)Write a letter to Santa– or help someone else write one.  It seems like a lost art, but I think it would be fun to get creative, make it artistic.  Maybe we will write one and leave a Thank you note this year instead!

17) Make ornaments and decorate a tree– and enjoy it!  Do I really need to put it on the December Bucket list? No, but somehow over the years this has turned into a chore instead of something to be enjoyed.  I want to get back to making it a festive afternoon or evening.  Maybe starting with going to pick out the tree together as a family! Maybe have a snowman pizza when you get done!December Bucket List: Have a snowman pizza after putting up the tree!

18)Take a special family photo– Christmas is a great time to document the years as they go by.  Maybe do something extra special each year, or maybe record it the same.  Just make sure you do it!

19)Go to the Zoo lights, or botanical gardens lights. This is so enjoyable.  It is fun to walk around and have fresh hot roasted nuts and cider.

20)Go to the Christmas Parade- Nothing like a parade to make me feel like a kid again!  And nothing quite like taking the kids to see one to make them super excited about Christmas!

I reserve the right to expand this December Bucket List……….and it may take me some years to get to them all, but I am so excited to start trying.

UPDATED for 2015 Here.

 

 

100 Purple Santas need a home! Giveaways for Santa and We’re Having A Tuesday

100 Purple Santas need a home in 100 hours!100 Purple Santas need a home this holiday season! We are in the home stretch of the holiday season.  Many of us are in the hustle and bustle of it all.  So we have lots of last minute goodies to share to help you finish up your holiday shopping. And we have at least 100 purple Santas that need a home!

First– We are issuing a challenge. We would like to find 100 purple Santas a home this holiday season. We have set a goal to sell 100 Santa books in 100 hours directly from our website here. We are still including FREE priority shipping, and books are just $16.95 each.  The first 100 people in this 100 hours will get their Santa book, AND in addition a free copy of DK Simoneau’s first book, We’re Having A Tuesday.  Countdown starts NOW!  (Expires at 9 p.m. MST, December 14, 2014) 100 purple Santas need a home!  Books must be ordered from this site to qualify for free bonus book! Order towards the bottom of the page HERE.

Holidays pink divorce free kindle

Second– The holiday season can be a tough time for divorced families, a subject many of us can relate to.  So in honor of that, and bringing “We’re Having A Tuesday” up to date with its own Kindle version, it will be available for FREE December 11-15 through Amazon Kindle.  Get it for your own Kindle HERE.Purple Santa? Great kids book app online or through ITunes- Santa's Zany Wacky Night Before Christmas

 

Third-Limited Opportunity: Post a new review of either the hardback or Kindle version of Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) on Amazon or Goodreads, send the link to us at info@acpublicationsgroup.com, and we will gift you a copy of the interactive Santa’s Night Before Christmas app through Interactive Touch Books for free.

Reading Santa’s Night Before Christmas for classroom enrichment activities

Choose your own color santa suit- Milk Carton Santas. One of many ways to tie Santa's Zany Wacky Just Not Right Night Before Christmas into classroom activities.

Reading Santa’s Night Before Christmas for classroom enrichment activities is so much fun! We have lots of ways to spark the imagination with this book by encouraging creativity in art, writing, and oral expression! –At home, or in a read aloud classroom or library setting!  Please see our classroom page here for a growing list of ideas of how to enrich your classrooms with our book.

Meanwhile here are a few thoughts:

  • After reading the book and finding out that there is no longer Milk and Cookies, but instead Tea and Honey, introduce a Tea and Honey Party. It can be as formal or as informal as you like. Bring a variety of teas, maybe some more traditional and a couple of holiday blends, along with some honey. Then expose kids to traditions and tastes of other cultures of which they may be unfamiliar.
  • Initiate a Christmas Caroling activity. After reading the book and talking about funny sounding carolers, discuss the practice of Christmas Caroling. Choose some songs. Make them funny if you wish. Go around to other classrooms and sing carols.
  • In a group setting following a read aloud there are many topics of discussion that could be focused upon in verbal format and then flowed into a writing assignment if desired. (Most of these could also be presented in front of the class as well.)
    • What details are in the drawings that that aren’t mentioned in the story? (Hint- hunt for Matches the Mouse!!)
      What other zany and wacky things that could go wrong with Christmas if Santa’s suit were purple?
      What other things could have happened instead? Like could the milk and cookies be turned into carrots and celery? Why or why not? Could the candy canes be chocolate or sour instead of burnt? Would it have been a problem to change the story because of the rhyming?
      Launch for a theme of show and tell – bringing in their favorite holiday book, other books with Santa, or anything else related.
      Talk about cause and effect – consequences; how things relate, how this one change morphed Christmas, and how doing one thing differently day to day might have different effects in our own lives.
      Read the original The Night Before Christmas story (or any other version) and have a compare and contrast discussion
  • Art Projects galore! Have them do an art project of any kind to illustrate any idea of a zany, wacky Christmas. Use your own zany imagination-this book can spark all kinds of artistic expression and creativty.
    • Santas with suits of a different color. Almost any normal Santa project you do can be converted into a purple  Or better yet, you could let the kids express themselves and let them choose what color they want their Santa to be.
    • Similarly, blueberry blue reindeer might be fun! Or let them choose their own fun color.
    • Upside down snowmen and trees of all kinds. Any project you might normally do with snowmen or trees could be done upside down. One I like is the Name Snowmen. Just put the face and hat one on the bottom upside down.
    • Art and Writing worksheets, like “If I were a Zany Wacky Reindeer, I would…” Download: Zany wacky reindeer worksheet.  Please see the classroom page for more ideas; as well as that is where we will be posting new ones.Worksheet to go with Santa's Zany Wacky Just Not Right Night Before Christmas available hardback, kindle or via Interactive Touchbooks app.