Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas Books!

Stilton, Geronimo. Away in a Star Sled (Geronimo Stilton Spacemice #8)
August 30th 2016 by Scholastic Paperbacks 
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Every year on the Night of the Dancing Stars, the Elfix bring toys to all of the creatures in the universe. When they are imperiled and send out a help message that is intercepted by Geronimo Stiltonix and the MouseStar1, the crew rushes to save this important holiday. Twinklix has been attacked by Nebulos, who gloom and doom has clouded their own planet and obscured them from the view of the Elfix, resulting in a decided lack of gifts. Angered by this, they take over the Elfix production and claim all of the presents for their own. Geronimo is able to make them see reason, and once their moods improve, their entire demeanor changes and they are able to let the Elfix return to making the Night of the Dancing Stars merry for everyone. 

This is an interesting twist on a holiday story. Clearly, this is the Christmas of Stiltonix's world, and Christmix just didn't have the right ring to it. There are decorated trees, candy canes, and all of the traditional trappings while calling this by a different name. 

The SpaceMice stories are the simplest ones-- they have a mission, they head out on it, solve all of the problems, and return in time for feasts and the approbation of Grandfather William, the space captain and the admiration of Sally, Geronimo's crush in this incarnation. 

Since any gift giving holiday is popular with young readers, no matter what the holiday is, I can see this being a great addition to titles like Thaler's The Christmas Party from the Black Lagoon, McDonald's Holly Jolliday, or other Christmas versions of favorite series. 

25261908Oliver: The Cat Who Saved Christmas
October 18th 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books 
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Oliver loses his home when the pub where he lives with his owner George burns down. During the fire, Oliver runs away, and ends up being taken in from the November chill by young Dan, who lives a struggling existence with Nicky. The two work in London but live in the small village where the costs are lower, but still can barely put food on the table. Caring for Oliver would be a stretch, but neighbor Sarah and her little girls step in to help feed the animal while George is staying with his sister in London. The fire has not only taken out the pub, but a good portion of the village hall where many activities occur. The biggest problem is the day nursery, which will have to close. Nicky, who is newly pregnant, works in a nursery but the salary in the village would be too small. Oliver manages to manipulate the lives of those around him in order to be "the cat who saved Christmas", and manages to not only improve Nicky and Dan's lives, but those of two grouchy pensioners, a sick girl, and most of the village, just in time for the holidays. 

Fans of James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small or similar animal memoirs will find this to be a pleasant and diverting holiday read. There are not great surprises in what Oliver manages to do, but that's part of the charm of the book. Everyone's life gets better in time for Christmas instead of being besieged by trauma. 

This is a good story for all ages, although it does address Nicky's impending unplanned and unwed motherhood as well as dancing around the amorous career of local cat Tabby, who has managed to get another cat, Suki, pregnant. There's nothing inappropriate discussed, but it does come up. 

Oliver: The Cat Who Saved Christmas is an charming introduction to classic British village tales and would make a great gift for fans of this genre as well as people who prefer cats. 

My daughter is getting this for a present. She just got a cat. I don't know where I went wrong!

Korman, Gordon. Jingle (Swindle #8)
September 27th 2016 by Scholastic Press
Library copy

"Griffin Bing and his friends are NOT happy. Instead of going away for winter break, they've been signed up to volunteer at a local Christmas extravaganza . . . as elves.

It's not easy being an elf. Not when Santa is bad news and Rudolph is being played by a Doberman who makes up his own rules wherever he goes.

But being an elf is nothing compared to being blamed when a prized Christmas possession -- worth over ten million dollars -- is stolen right from under your nose.

It's time for these elves to get off the shelf and track down a Christmas thief!

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