Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Holds a Special Place in My Heart by Natasha Wing, Guest Blogger

Very special guest and Northern Coloradoan Natasha Wing is the author of a whole bunch of "Night Before" books for kids. Since tomorrow is Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, I'm especially happy to welcome Natasha with her recommendations for your holiday book shopping trips, especially her favorites for the Christmas Season.

The Night Before the Night Before Christmas and other books listed can be purchased from online retailers and from many of your local chain and independent bookstores.

Thanks for joining us today, Natasha.


Christmas Holds a Special Place in My Heart by Natasha Wing

Christmas holds a special place in my heart – partly because there are two Christmas books that influenced my writing career.

The first one is The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. I was browsing at a Christmas bizarre in Phoenix when I came across a book with a captivating cover of a locomotive in the snow. I picked up the book and flipped through its pages, and like a slow-motion dream, people around me disappeared into a blur then a sparkly white light enveloped me. I remember standing in silence, totally in awe of the book, and declaring that I wanted to make this kind of magic for kids. That’s when my path toward writing and publishing children’s books began.

The second book is The Night Before Christmas. As a child I loved that poem. And when I got the idea to write an Easter book, I wanted to pay homage to The Night Before Christmas and wrote my Easter story using the same storytelling structure except that I put my own twist on the holiday. One book grew into a 15-book series and for that I am thankful because my Night Before books enable me to continue to write for a living. There are hundreds of versions of this story, but I am recommending The Night Before Christmas: The Classic Edition by Charles Santore since it contains the original telling and spelling of the story as it was first published in 1823.

Books have brought magic into my life – as both a kid and an adult. This Christmas, you can bring a little magic into a child’s life by giving a book. Here are a few that I thought would make good gifts.

I have read countless children’s books over the past 20 years of my writing career, so it is impossible to narrow down a list of my favorites. But let’s start with two books about…books!

It’s a Book by Lane Smith is about a jackass who is curious about monkey’s book and asks what the book does and how to use it. It’s a comedic commentary on technology that adults will get a kick out of while kids will enjoy the funny exchanges between the jackass and the monkey.

For kids who have advanced to easy readers, another funny book about books is from the Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems called We are in a Book! Elephant and Piggie think they are being watched. And they are – by the reader of the book! They play with the reader and dare him to say a word that sets them into giggle fits. Their silliness will tickle the reader as well.

One of my favorite book characters is Fancy Nancy. (I must admit I am showing a touch of bias because the author, Jane O’Connor, is my editor for my Night Before books.) What I particularly like about this series is that Fancy Nancy is cleverly teaching children to improve their vocabulary. Plus I love the fanciful illustrations. These books make for easy pairings with other fun gifts such as a tea set, boas, tiaras and oo-la-la! Girls will love playing Fancy Nancy. Jane O’Connor has written a bazillion Fancy Nancy books, but I suggest if your child has not been introduced yet, start with the first one.

For the artist in your family – or the child who is worried about making mistakes- Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg is a reassuring board book about how what first looks like a mistake or oops is really part of a creative masterpiece. Pair this book with a paint set or craft paper to inspire your child to create his own beautiful oops.

For a multicultural twist on The Twelve Days of Christmas, there’s Pinata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas by Pat Mora and brightly illustrated by Magaly Morales. The book includes a glossary and a song so the whole family can sing along. It’s always fun to discover how other people celebrate holidays, and this book offers a joyful peek at the Latino culture.

Because Fort Collins is a dog-loving town, I am highly recommending a book for pre-teens, teens and grown-ups, too – A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans by W. Bruce Cameron. It’s about a dog that is reincarnated several times and each time brings a piece of its past life into its new life. You see how a dog views its surroundings and human behavior. But most of all, you are moved by a dog’s devotion to humans. It made me smile. It made me cry. But if you know a dog lover and want to give a heart-touching present, there’s nothing better than a good dog story.


Thanks again, Natasha, for your recommendations. I know just the kid for It's a Book...and just the grownup for A Dog's Purpose.

For more information about Natasha and her own books, visit her website. She blogs at Natasha's News where she's currently doing a series on awesome books from awesome Colorado writers. You can also find her on Facebook.


Cindy Keen Reynders said...

Kids are the best fans, I believe. They are so hungry for great books. I work for a school district here in Cheyenne and they are always excited about good books to discover in the library so I'm glad to hear from a children's author. Thanks for a great interview Pat and Natasha!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I like Natasha's book title and cover - I'm sure it's really funny!

Mason Canyon said...

Natasha, these sounds like great books to even bring out the inner child in us adults. Love the book cover of your book. That would definitely make me want to pick it up. Best of luck.

Pat, thanks for the introduction to Natasha and her wonderful books.

Thoughts in Progress

Kerrie said...

Thanks for the great list of book recommendations. I love the Fancy Nancy books too.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Natasha, thanks so much for being my guest. I'm going to sneak read A Dog's Purpose before I mail it to the person who's getting it for Christmas. :)

Michelle Mach said...

I loved 'It's a Book' - one of the funniest books I've seen in a long time!

Gary Raham said...

Thanks for the tips, Natasha. I especially like the concept behind the Dog book. It's almost science fictional! :)

Dean K Miller said...

Hmmm... a book and a child... what more could we ever want? Except a great list to follow!

Natasha Wing said...

My husband's reading A Dog's Purpose and is enjoying it. For another dog book, he likes The Art of Racing in the Rain. Did you know that Garth Stein rewrote the book for a younger audience? I think it's just called Racing in the Rain.