„The truly brave princesses“, by Dolores Brown and Sonja Wimmer

„The truly brave princesses“ is a book that celebrates diversity and teaches little girls that princesses don’t just belong into fairytales.

IMG_1578

Author Dolores Brown shows that very few women resemble the perfect picture of a princess tales and movies represent. Eeal-life-princesses come in all shape and sizes, colors and sexual orientations: The girl in a wheelchair, the child with down syndrome, the elderly widow, the working mother and the lawyer helping to make the world a better place are just a few example of every day princesses around us. Some of them even don’t want to be called a princess – like astronaut Zoe, who retired her princess some time ago and now travels through distant space.

IMG_1580

The artwork by German illustrator Sonja Wimmer is truly amazing. She gives every princess a unique personality by using colorful watercolor images on a slightly structured background. I am not one for ripping pages out of a book, but I almost thought about framing her images!

IMG_1582.jpg

„The truly brave princesses“ was published by NubeOcho, a Spanish publishing house. The Egalité series of NubeOcho promotes equality with stories, “in which gender, race, sexual orientation or being different in anyway is part of the richness of our societies.” Almost all NubeOcho books were published in Spanish and English.

We really enjoyed reading a story of everyday princesses! After a few family tragedies and a long downtime from reviewing, “The truly brave princesses” was a great motivation to start writing reviews again. Also, we discovered that a soon-to-be-Kindergartener and a newly single mom are princesses in their own way!

“The truly brave princesses”
by Dolores Brown and Sonja Wimmer
Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: NubeOcho
Series: Egalité
Hardcover: 44 pages
ISBN-10: 8417123385

Advertisements

„Beauregard in a box“ by Jessica Lee Hutchings

Beauregard is a curious kid. His biggest dream: Travelling the world! Reading, drawing, writing and thinking about his big aspiration even keeps him up at night. Beauregard would be a great adventurer. Unfortunately, there is one problem: Beauregard is afraid of flying or taking big ships to make his dreams come true…

IMG_0861

Until he has an awesome idea! Beauregard sneaks into the post office, crawls into a huge box full of mittens – and arrives in Finland! After exploring the cold country with his new friend Aleksi Beauregard is sure: He want to continue with his world travels. A box full of Sarongs brings him to Bali, from there on he travels in a box full of swimsuits and find himself in Australia. His new friend Jack is as adventurous as Beauregard – until he sees the Box our little traveler plans to crawl in next: “It’s dark, it’s noisy, and the ride can’t be that great!” Beauregard realizes that he already flew an airplane and boarded a ship, just hidden in his box. After all the cool things he did he will now be brave enough to fly on a plane…

Jessica Lee Hutching wrote a cute picture book with a main character children and adults can instantly relate to. We all have dreams, but often fears or worries hold us back… Beauregard’s story shows that we are often braver than we think. Beauregard travels in a box to avoid airplanes and ships. After reaching his final destination it takes him some time to realize that postboxes are transported by air or sea as well. He already did what he feared the most, he’s braver than he ever thought he could be! The descriptions of Finland, Bali and Australia are relatively short, but capture the most important values and have exactly the right length to hold a young reader’s attention. After all, this is not a book about foreign countries, but about a boy discovering his own strength!

The illustrations by Srimalie Bassani are colorful and charming. I especially loved Beauregard’s facial expressions – he seemed so confused at times, then utterly happy and (finally) proud of himself.

Beauregard in a box” is a fun picture book for preschool and elementary aged adventurer. A book will be available on April 17 – just in time for summer vacation!

Author Jessica Lee Hutchings is a world traveler herself. The trained chef with a degree from Johnson & Wales University was born and raised in Alabama but now lives in California. She enjoys traveling to new places; revisiting old favorites, like Spain, Australia, and Hawaii; and eating doughnuts. “Beauregard in a box” is her debut children’s book.

Illustrator Srimalie Bassani lives and works in Mantova, Italy. According to her own words she always tries to diversify her style based on every story she illustrates.

More information:
„Beauregard in a box“
Written by Jessica Lee Hutchings
Illustrated by Srimalie Bassani
Publisher: Flowerpot Press (17. April 2018)
ISBN: 978-1486713844

„Every girl is a princess“ by Mylo Freeman

Every girl dreams of being a princess at least once. But how does a princess look like? Which color does her hair have, is she small or big? And what does she like? Does she love unicorns, cats or maybe alligators?

IMG_0726

„Every girl is a princess“ by Mylo Freeman confirms that every girl is a princess in her own way! The book delights with colorful illustrations. Flaps on each page and simple questions engage young readers and support logical thinking: “Princess Naomi loves turtles. On her crown is a rainbow. Could this be her crown?” The delightful illustrations show girls of every part of the worlds: Princess Ushi, Princess Adinda, Princess Rosalina, Princess Isabel and her friends introduce little girls to a colorful “princess world” and show, that every princess has her own way to shine.

IMG_0728

Each princess is wearing her own crown. But who does the last golden tiara belong to? A mirror on the last page reveals that every girl is a princess – and every boy is a prince. “Look and see for yourself if you don’t believe it!”

IMG_0730

Mylo Freeman’s book is clearly a typical “girl” book – little readers will love the pink title and background, the friendly princesses with their vibrant dresses and the sparkling crowns on every page. The book is a great way to introduce kids to a more diverse world! While recommended for age 3 up, simple questions and easy to lift flaps make this book a great title to enjoy with toddlers or even read to younger infants. Just be careful: This is not a board book; the exciting pages might not respond well to chewing… 🙂

„Every girl is a princess“ was published by Cassava Republic, a small publisher based in Abuja, Nigeria. Cassava Republic would like to promote writers from all over Africa: “Our mission is to change the way we all think about African writing.  We think that contemporary African prose should be rooted in African experience in all its diversity.”

Author and illustrator Mylo Freeman grew up in The Hague and lives in Amsterdam. She has been a full-time writer-illustrator since 1993 and has published over 50 picture books.

More information:

„Every girl is a princess“

written and illustrated by Mylo Freeman

Hardcover: 28 pages

Publisher: Cassava Republic Press

ISBN-13: 978-1911115380

“Malala’s pencil” by Malala Yousafzai

As you know, our family absolutely adores books. And so sometimes, when I only plan on buying some groceries, I can’t resist the urge to purchase another one… Usually I don’t by books at Target, but today, “Malala’s magic pencil” miraculously landed in my shopping cart. And I still am not sure if I purchased the book for our daughter or for me :).

malala

You probably already heard about human rights advocate and the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai. I had her picture book on my wish list for quite some time, but I didn’t borrow or purchase it – until today.

I read the book in the car before arriving home and then again during bedtime. I knew that this would be a unique book and a difficult topic, so I wasn’t sure how our 5-year-old would like it. And I sure wasn’t prepared for “Malala’s pencil” to be THAT extraordinary while age-appropriate for young kids at the same time!

As young girl, Malala wished for a magic pencil to draw a lock on her door or give her one more hour of sleep each night. But growing up her dreams become bigger – she hopes for a world in which boys and girls are equal and children can go to school instead of having to work to be able to feed their families. When the Taliban take over Malala’s hometown in Pakistan, Malala speaks up for what is right – even when the powerful men try to silence her…

We read a lot of multicultural books and Finja loves to read about strong girls. But “Malala’s pencil” was something different. The gentle written text is a joy to read, and it illustrates everyday life as a child in Pakistan. The artwork in pastel and gold perfectly goes with Malala’s story, including the black page saying “”My voice became so powerful that the dangerous men tried to silence me. But they failed.”

The main difference: “Malala’s pencil” gave me goosebumps. The combination of impressive artwork, a wonderfully written text and a strong topic is something you don’t find every day… And it seems our five-year-old felt the same way. She wouldn’t stop asking why anyone could think a girl should not learn and grow up to be strong… No better time for strong female role models!

More information:

Written by Malala Yousafzai

Illustrated by Kerascoet Kerascoet

Age Range: 5 – 8 years

Hardcover: 48 pages

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

ISBN-13: 978-0316319577

 

 

“Most people” by Michael Leannah and Jennifer E. Morris

Do recent political events sometimes make you feel hopeless? Has reading the newspaper become a „damage report”, rather than enjoyment? Did you stop believing in the good of people?

mostpeople

But: No matter how it seems, not everyone is a bad person! On the contrary, most people are good… This is the topic of the picture book “Most people” by Michael Leannah. Young readers accompany various diverse family and persons during their day, see them interact, assist each other and ask for help. The author shows that there are bad things happening in the world, some people might behave badly – but most people love to smile and laugh. They like to see other people smile and make them happy. The world isn’t just glitter and sunshine, but there are multiple ways to do good and make the world a better place! A person who is frowning or mean can change as soon as you show them a little bit of kindness.

“Most people” is easy to understand for preschoolers and kindergarteners and a wonderful conversation starter for families and classrooms. We can tell our children about intolerance and biases, but challenging our own tolerance demonstrates is a big part of truly getting to the bottom of it. That’s why I especially loved one of the first pages of the book, showing all the important book characters in overview: A mother going for a walk with her two children, an elderly lady trying to cross the street, a service dog with his human, a homeless lady, pushing her belongings in a shopping cart, the baker, a child hurting herself when crashing her bike and several more. Finja’s first assessment after a few minutes of contemplating: “The big man looks like a pirate, pirates are bad.” Luckily exactly this big tattooed guy helps an elderly lady into the bus on the next page… Impressions can be misleading and there is no better way to teach your child about prejudice!

mostpeople2

“Most people” doesn’t tell young readers how to behave or how to be good. It’s not a map to Santa’s nice list. But it gives examples of how to do good: Letting an elderly lady going first on the bus, sharing food with a homeless person. Laughing when you see a young child on the sidewalk instead of complaining about the noise. And what about the boy stealing an apple from a market cart? What might be his motivation? Is he right or wrong? We especially loved the diverse characters in this book. “Most people” includes people of every age, color and lifestyle, from the tourist asking a policeman for help over a street musician, the housewife, a punk to a bus driver lady. Every one of these people is able to do good, no matter their appearance.  When talking about “good” and “bad” it’s hard not to fall into a stereotypical mentality. Michael Leanna does a good job, he shows that people sometimes make bad decisions, but in general most people are friendly and helpful – no matter where they come from or how they look like.

The illustrations by Jennifer E. Morris are rich in detail and expression and go perfectly with the tender told story. Morris works out individual characters and family situations, young reader will find something to discover on every page.

Sometimes people surprise you when you just see the good in them!

“Most people” offers a positive perspective on the world and is a wonderful read for children and adults alike. While not everyone is good and children surely need to be careful of strangers, most people are worth a second chance. A wonderful book for preschool and kindergarten aged children!

More information:

“Most people”
written by Michael Leannah
illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris
Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers
ISBN-13: 978-0884485544

„The Blue Bird’s Palace“ by Orianne Lallemand

Sometimes life just happens – and your blog is deserted for weeks… But no matter how stressful life is, grabbing a good book always is always like a short vacation. I really enjoy our evening story time. Transferring some if Finja’s books into their temporary home aka “moving boxes” almost hurt, although I know we’ll unpack them again in just a week. 🙂

9781846868856

To make up for the smaller selection of books available outside of our countless book boxes we read some new ones. Finja now reached the age where she loves fairytales and especially everything about Disney. Because, let’s be honest: Which girl doesn’t? To achieve a balance, I try to incorporate some unusual fairytales from all over the world in our daily reading routine. Sometimes really good tales are hard to come by, especially when you are searching for strong female role models. Luckily, there are some stories with strong female protagonists – Finja was fascinated by the real-life-stories of “Goodnight stories for rebel girls” by Elena Favilly.

But heroines are not always born strong, brave and kind – sometimes they have to grow into their roles. During the last days, I fell in love with the modern version of a Russian fairytale. „The Blue Bird’s Palace“ by Orianne Lallemand was published by one of my favorite publishers, Barefoot Books.

Blue-Bird's-Palace-The_pp4-5_W

The magically illustrated volume tells the story of Natasha. Natasha has a wonderful childhood in the Blue Forest, spending her time picking apples, baking bread and making sweet jam with her mom. Life changes when Natasha’s mother dies during an especially cold winter. Natasha’s dad buries himself in work to forget about his wife’s death. To make up for it, he spoils Natasha with everything she wishes for. Only the tastiest food is good enough for her. She enjoys only the finest fabric and the best stories. At age sixteen, the blessed girl is beautiful, but moody. She wants more and more – and especially: A bigger, better house with more rooms. But her father refuses to leave the cottage he shared with his wife. Natasha gets consumed by her own fury. When an old woman with a blue bird offers her a wish in exchange for a tasty fruit in her basket, Natasha desires a palace. But “not just any old palace, though, a magical one. One where I can invent all kinds of different rooms whenever I like.” Natasha’s wish is granted, but it doesn’t turn out as she likes… Natasha will not be able to leave her magical palace. For some time, the girl entertains herself with inventing new rooms. She wanders the wonderful palace and is at easy with the life of a princess.

Blue-Bird's-Palace-The_pp14-15_W

But after some time, Natasha gets bored with inventing new rooms. She misses her dad, the orchard the grew up in – and finds back to a simpler life again. “There would be no more dressing-up sessions; no more walks through her splendid rooms; no more magnificent feasts.” The magical palace shrinks to the size of a cottage. When Natasha discovers she’s able to leave the palace as a blue bird at night, she spends her days baking bread, leaving the loaves on the doorsteps of the poorest cottages. Will Natasha’s kindness be repaid? Will she be able to return to her father?

What I loved about “The Blue Bird’s Palace” is Natasha’s development from a selfish, spoiled girl to a thoughtful and kind woman. The story can be a reminder for us parents not to spoil our kids too much – but it can also be a story of growing-up and achieve happiness with being at ease with ourselves. I didn’t expect Finja to follow the modern interpretation of a Russian folk tradition. The tale is longer than most fairytales, there are not fairy godmothers or sparkles involved. But Finja listened carefully, asked questions about Natasha, her moodiness and her development to a kind young woman. Actually, she just snatched the book away while I was reviewing it, quickly retiring into her room to browse through the pages!

Barefoot Books recommends “The Blue Bird’s Palace” for age 5 to 10, but the book offers a complex story and is a wonderful gift for adult readers, too.

There is just one word left for the illustrations by Carole Henaff: Beautiful! The acrylic artwork seems to be inspired by The Arabian Nights and other classics, uniting the classical fairytale illustration with a radiant, more modern approach.

“The Blue Bird’s Palace” is a wonderful tale for children and adults every age – from “twonagers” to teenagers to adults 🙂

“The Blue Bird’s Palace”
written by Orianne Lallemand
illustrated by Carole Henaff
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Barefoot Books
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1846868856

Tearing down walls – one book and one tweet at a time

I have the feeling I spend the last two weeks on Twitter. Not for The Reading Castle or literature though, but for diversity and about the craziness of the current political situation. Everything else seems unimportant when you read about a purge of the white house’s senior staff, right wing politicians taking their place, the travel ban for citizens of certain countries and countless other unbelievable biases. And, everything seems to be reasonable when you accept an “alternative truth”. Science Fiction, anyone?

16299532_1858332227769819_348140160418509611_n

Even more interesting is how the world reacts to it. While supporters of our new president seemed to see it justified to burn mosques and take pride in their racism and religious prejudice, the better part of Americans stood up for moral, their neighbors of every color, heritage and believe and the truth. With the day of the women’s marches my believe in this world, this country and the American people started to mend.

I want to stand against this madness. Not because I’m an immigrant myself, but because I believe in a diverse world. We teach our daughter acceptance and tolerance, kindness and thoughtfulness. Our children are watching. They might not understand yet, but they see what the political leadership is doing, that people are suffering while wrongs are justified with “alternative truths”. And they see how we are reacting. It’s more important them ever to teach them about other cultures and diversity. To stand for human rights, for refugees, women, scientists, our neighbors, kids and everyone else. I’m proud that the Reading Castle works with publishers that understand and support diverse children books. I’m sure these books will be an important part of making our children “worldcitizen”, who stand up for injustice and tear down walls.

Why I’m writing this? As an explanation. For me it’s not an alternative to keep this blog free of political opinions. What’s happening right now is just too important. But I’m spending too much time on Twitter and Facebook already, so I chose to just keep my Twitter account @readingcastle for literature only with the occasional side blow. If you are curious about my political opinion you can always follow me @lenalandwerth. If we are friends on Facebook you’ll see that it’s just not possible to stay out of the discussion right now 🙂

Thanks for your understanding!

„Sophie Sue – Book 1: Robbie the Rhino“ by Stef Albert

We always had pets as part of our family and I can just imagine how author and illustrator Stef Albert felt after passing of his beloved Dachshund “Sophie Sue” … Stef Albert set pen to paper and created “The Magical Adventures of Sophie Sue” as an educational and inspirational adventure series for children and a way for Sophie Sue’s legacy to live on. “Sophie Sue travelled the world, sailed the seven seas and lived in a variety of countries. Always ready for the next adventure and loved by all who knew her, Sophie Sue touched the hearts of many.” Stef Albert’s mission: Through magical rescue missions, Sophie Sue and her animal friends teach children love towards pets and animals, awareness on endangered species, international travel, countries, flags, cultures and even a few foreign words in each story.

book-1-robbie-rhino

Dogs and world cultures – doesn’t that sound great? We were thrilled when Stef Albert contacted us about writing a review of the first part of the Sophie Sue series! „Sophie Sue – Book 1: Robbie the Rhino“ arrived just in time for Christmas with free stickers of Sophie’s animal friends and a bookmark. To be honest: I let Finja browse through the first adventure of Sophie Sue alone before I had a peek. Funny enough our four-year-old understood most of the story without even being able to read. And she had lots of questions right away: “Are these the Rhino’s parents?” “Why are they in a cage?” “Are these bad men?”

We read the book together a few days later. The story: Sophie Sue is a friendly Wiener dog with lots of friends. And Sophie Sue has lots of magic, too: Her magic ball tells her whenever an animal around the world needs help and she’s able to turn into a special Wiener-Copter to start a rescue mission with all her friends. Today Rhino Robby from South Africa needs Sophie Sue’s help. On the way to the country on the South tip of the African continent giraffe Larry Long tells his friend about South Africa and its inhabitants, its flag and spoken languages. Within “Sophie-seconds” the copter arrives in the bush of South Africa; the animals can spot Robbie Rhino right away. Poachers have kidnapped his parents and Robbie tries to keep up with the fast driving truck who will take his parents away… Sophie and her friends arrived just in time – but will they be able to rescue the Rhinos and bring the family back together?

untitled
“Robbie Rhino” teaches children about language, nature and culture of South Africa.

I loved that Steph Albert teaches a lot about the destination country, in this case South Africa. Basics like the flag, language or characteristics of a certain culture will stick with the young readers. In this book of the series children learn to say “Thank you” and “Goodbye” in Afrikaans. He also educates about conservation and nature protection. The important of these topics shouldn’t be underestimated in today’s world! I want our daughter to be raised with the awareness of other cultures and the need to protect nature and wild animals. And as I spend some month in Namibia during High School I loved to hear some Afrikaans words again!

Finja loved the colorful, almost cartoon-like illustrations by the author. Sophie Sue and her friends show lots of expression; the thieves seem like caricatures. She also caught on to the moral of the story pretty quick, even without me reading the whole book right away!

Sophie Sue’s magic makes rescue missions over continents possible and although a dog turning into a helicopter being a little much for me (especially after Sophie’s house falls away when she turned fist, but is whole again when the animals arrive back after they adventure) it seems to spark children’s imagination and may be one of the reasons why younger kids love Sophie Sue. I read Fantasy novels as well, so it’s absolutely understandable!

Robbie the Rhino” is just the first of eight Sophie Sue adventures. The curious Wiener will travel to India to rescue an elephant, will visit Croatia, Frankfurt and other places of the world. Most of the books will be released in 2017 and are available for pre-order on the Sophie Sue homepage. Until then young fans of can find a free holiday video about Radkus Reindeer in Russia, a short ‘Meet the Characters‘, screensaver and more online.

Radkus Reindeer in Russia by Stef Albert from Sophie Sue on Vimeo.

Stef Albert donates a large portion of proceeds from The Magical Adventures of Sophie Sue to animal and children organizations.

More information:
„Sophie Sue – Book 1: Robbie the Rhino“
written and illustrated by Stef Albert
available online

“Clive and his hats” by Jessica Spanyol

I’m not a friend of gender neutral education. Because, let’s face it: Girls and boys just are different. That doesn’t mean that there is any justification for gender stereotypes though. Although boys and girls are different, learn differently and have different interest, girls play with fire trucks, too. And boys like to play kitchen. Or to dress up.

clive

Clive, the hero of the board book “Clive and his hats” by Jessica Spanyol, is a boy with a vivid imagination. He likes to build castles out of sand and jump into puddles. He loves to play in his little pool and to pretend he’s a cowboy. But he also likes to dress up, play peek-a-boo and wearing his own creation during a visit in the art gallery. Clive has lots of hats – and bunny ears are just part of his inventory as a fireman hat and a wooly hat for cold days. Because “Clive likes lots and lots of hats!”

“Clive and his hats” by Jessica Spanyol is a book for children age 1 to 3. The board book convinces with sturdy pages, that are easy to grasp for early readers. We loved the colorful illustrations by the author – Finja especially likes Clive’s black Moshi cat and it’s mischieveos smile… Jessica Spanyol doesn’t just write to challenge gender stereotypes, her illustrations embrace diversity: Clive’s friends are from all parts of the world. This is one of the best parts of this book in my opinion – because is there a better way to show our children how diverse and colorful the world is? Or, as another children’s book publisher stated: “Books are for ALL children”. You want your child to find themselves or their friends in the book they read. You want them to become tolerant and aware that there is no “average” kid. Because there are girls playing with cars – and boys playing with dolls, there are children from Asia and with lighter or darker skin color than yours!

fullsizerender

This book is part of the “All about Clive” book series about Clive and his everyday life. Jessica Spanyol created books about “Clive and his babies”, “Clive and his art” and “Clive and his bags”. We didn’t read the other parts of the series, but the titles promise more diverse books who defy gender stereotypes. And we definitely need more diverse books to make the world a little more colorful for toddlers and preschoolers!

The “All about Clive” series was created by Child’s Play International. According to the publisher, Child’s play “is more than just a publishing program, it is a philosophy.” As children learn most about the world around them in their early years, the publisher wants to expose children to diverse, quality books “to develop an enquiring mind and a lifelong love of reading.”

More information:
“Clive and his hats”
written and illustrated by Jessica Spanyol
Age Range: 1 – 3 years
Grade Level: Preschool and up
Series: All about Clive
Board book: 12 pages
Publisher: Child’s Play International; Brdbk edition (July 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1846438851

„Otto and the secret light of Christmas“ by Nora and Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin

Are you already in Christmas mood? I have to be honest: We started packing Christmas packages for Germany about a month ago and I always felt like a pretender because I just didn’t feel the holiday vipe yet… Well, with Thanksgiving around the corner the mood is finally catching up with me – especially while browsing all the wonderful Christmas stories!

"Otto and the secret light of Christmas"
“Otto and the secret light of Christmas”

We are not a religious household, but Christmas is important for us anyway. It’s just about being together, thinking of the people you love, getting in touch with every good friends abroad and getting in a special, merry mood. Our daughter and we enjoy decorating our condo, visiting Santa at the local zoo and packing small baskets to surprise our friends at December 6th, Sant Nicolaus day.

In Germany, where there is no Santa but a “Christkind” (Christ child) I always had the feeling Christmas had a more religious touch. This goes for decorations as well as for Christmas books for kids, which mainly show angels and most times refer to the birth of Jesus. Or I’m just too old and was growing up in another area… Anyway, I really enjoy books that point out the importance of Christmas without bible references. And as someone who loves Northern Europe I finally found one of my favorite Christmas stories!

A journey into Finish folklore: Otto meats the Snow Lonttis
A journey into Finish folklore: Otto meats the Snow Lonttis

Otto and the secret light of Christmas“ was written and illustrated by the Finish mother-daughter team Nora and Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin. The hero of the story, elfin Otto, finds himself on a long travel to find the “light of Christmas” to brighten the dark Finish winter days. His motivation: A postcards, proclaiming the “Light of Christmas” and wishing light in the midst of winter. Otto heads north, hiking dark forests, snowshoeing through deep snow, skiing down hills and riding on a reindeer`s back. The journey he started alone brings many new friends and adventures: Otto meets an apple-loving badger named Badger, encounters the king of the forest, warms up in a Sauna with Klupu, strong trolls living on the plains of Lappland and shares a tea with Snow Lonttis. Most of these creatures originate from Northern Europe folklore – together with the stunning illustrations of snowy plains, Northern villages and dark forests the reader is thrown deep in the Finnish landscape. Can there be a setting more Christmas-sy?

"The colours twirled high and spun in great circles up to the stars, where they transformed unto flames of even more astonishing hues."
“The colours twirled high and spun in great circles up to the stars, where they transformed into flames of even more astonishing hues.”

Finally, Otto’s journey nears an end: A campfire under the North Star where he joins an old man, which Otto addresses as “Father Yule”, one of the pre-Christian name of the Norse god Odin. “I have been called that”, laughs the old man. Otto has been looking for Christmas – but has he found it?

fullsizerender6

I’m sure what we have found: A magical Christmas story to share with children every age. „Otto and the secret light of Christmas” is a story about the real meaning of Christmas aside religious meaning and a tale that can be enjoyed by children and adults every culture and background. It would make the perfect read aloud for a preschool or elementary school! Reading „Otto and the secret light of Christmas” aloud is absolutely charming, the authors use a wonderful, poetic language. Hearing the story of Otto and his new friends you can almost feel the snow crunching under your shoes and hear the wind howling in the tree tops. I was craving Otto’s favorite drink, blueberry tea, after the last chapter! Speaking about chapters: Although the tale around Otto is absolutely wonderful it might be a little extensive for younger children to read in one sitting. Luckily the authors dedicated one separate chapter for every encounter. This makes „Otto and the secret light of Christmas” not only more accessible for younger readers, but also turns this book into a perfect companion for the holiday season. The 14 chapters could make a literary advent calendar of one of a kind!

We really loved the „Otto and the secret light of Christmas“ and I’m sure we’ll read it many many times this Christmas season and in the years to come! The book makes it easy for me to explain our meaning of Christmas with the words of “Father Yule”:

fullsizerender4

There is just one more thing to say: Enjoy!

Otto and the secret light of Christmas
written by Nora
illustrated by Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin
translated by Jill Timbers
Hardcover: 108 pages
Publisher: Floris Books
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1782503231