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You Better Watch Out!


I’m excited to share my review of  Santa is Coming to California, one title in a clever new series from Scotland based illustrator Robert Dunn and UK based author Steve Smallman published by Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky ($9.99, ages 4 and up).

Old Saint Nick is getting his Santa-nav ready by entering the correct coordinates for California and then off he will go! Imagine how much fun you’ll have reading this story to your children as you follow Santa’s sleigh and reindeer as they make tracks from the North Pole all the way to the Golden State! Not only will you love the spirited illustrations, but you’ll also love how the story subtly teaches a geography lesson.

9781402277757Santa and company get lost in fog, but when they get reoriented they are zooming over the Golden Gate Bridge and all of San Francisco’s notable sites. Eventually they make it to Hollywood plus other delightful points here and yonder despite some weary and hungry first-rate sleigh pullers.

If you’re not a California resident, you can take advantage of Santa is Coming To My House, virtually the same picture book with a different cover and without the specific city names and landmarks (hence some different illustrations) so any child anywhere can enjoy it!

So which list are you on?

-Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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California Dreamin’

Debbie Glade reviews an excellent history book for kids the whole family will love.

All native Californians will be proud of their state after reading about its rich history in California History for Kids: Missions, Miners and Moviemakers in the Golden State, Includes 21 Activities ($16.95, Chicago Review Press, Ages 9+). Author Katy S. Duffield set out to introduce middle readers to the history of the Golden State, and she accomplishes that with impressive detail.

The book starts with an essential timeline dating from 1.8 million years ago to the present day. Within the book’s nine chapters, readers will learn about: the state’s first inhabitants, both human and otherwise; the first European settlers; riveting facts about the California Gold Rush; transportation; crops; earthquakes; the Great Depression; the movie industry and the future of California. Among the countless fascinating facts I read, I learned that Southern California has one of the most abundant deposits if Ice Age fossils on earth, that the state has 4.1 million acres of National Parks and an average of 100-150 earthquakes per year!

The 21 creative activities in the book include fun and educational projects such as a creating a shoebox archaeological dig, whistling Morse Code, producing your own movie and making an air pollution log book. The high quality printing and historic black and white photographs in this book, really make it special.

California History for Kids is an indispensable source of information and should be mandatory in all the age-appropriate classrooms in the state. It would also be an excellent holiday gift for a young curious reader, as it’s a perfect way to get California children interested in the history of their own state. But it shouldn’t stop with children; the whole family will love learning from this intriguing book. I’m a big fan of non-fiction Chicago Review Press books for kids, and this one, like all the others I have read, lives up to my high expectations.

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