By Leslie Lindsay

I love Charlie. I love basset hounds. And I love the holidays…so what’s not to love about CHARLIE AND THE CHRISTMAS KITTY?! Known as “The Pioneer Woman,” Ree Drummond knows a thing or two about basset hounds. And cooking. And baking. And bacon, too. She also loves animals and so when it comes to interrupting Charlie she’s got it down to a science.

When Charlie feels a bit upstaged by a tiny cuddly and mischivous kitten, he soon realizes that maybe, just maybe the kitty is okay. He may even like the way she purrs and snuggles up to him. Just when things are going well, here comes the cutest little basset puppy…oh no! Poor Charlie.

The illustrations are to die-for. I just adore how the illustrator  (Diane DeGroat) is able to capture the intricacies and mannerisms of a basset hound…and I should know, we have one!

If you get the book, here are some talking points and fun activities:

  • Have you ever felt upstaged by someone or something in your life? A sibling or friend got to do something you didn’t?
  • What changed? How were you able to see the event/situation in new light?
  • How might you feel if you were Charlie and a new animal came into your home?
  • Write a different ending to this story. What if the new puppy didn’t come…what might have happened?
  • Do you think cats and dogs can get along? How about boys and girls? People of one religion versus another? Friends of different colors/cultures/backgrounds? Give some examples.
  • Draw a picture of Charlie and his kitty.
  • For more activities, including some of Charlie’s favorite recipies and coloring pages, see this HarperCollins page.
  • For more on Ree Drummond

CHARLIE AND THE CHRISTMAS KITTY is one not to be missed for any animal/basset lover but especially those famlies who have children between the ages of 4-8 years old. [image source: as retrieved on 12.02.14]

Books on Monday: THE SPARKLE BOX

By Leslie Lindsay

What a darling book! First, the illustrations (Christine Kornacki) are beautifully rendered and the prose (Jill Hardie) is a delight for young and old. Secondly, the message is timeless and classic, creating a deeper meaning for families and children as they celebrate the holiday season. THE SPARKLE BOX is written in such that the child in the story can’t wait for the presesnts, the food, the parties, and did I mention the presents? Well, his mother has another plan: to give some of their time and clothing to a shelter. In the end, it’s about honoring what Jesus’ life has done for us–and what we have done to make our life and world a better place.Sparkle Box

Based on a true tradition the author started for her young family, each time a good deed is done, a slip of paper is placed in a “sparkle box;” it’s a small thing you’ve done for another person, from holding a door to providing handwarmers to a homeless person. It’s singing at the nursing home and baking cookies for a shelter, it’s sending a box of personal care items overseas, or donating to Toys For Tots. If you can think back over the course of the year as what you and your family have done, add those things, too.

When you open your other gifts Christmas morning, remember to open your “Sparkle Box” and give a gift to Jesus, too. [image source: retrieved on 12.02.14]


By Leslie Lindsay

Oh goodness…”I can smell Christmas and it’s almost here,” says little bear. Like many other children of the 1970s and 1980s, I had this book as a child and absolultely loved, loved, loved it! So, when I had my own little elf, circa 2005 I had to find the book again. First, I started with my dear parents who said, “Oh yes, I remember the book, but no….I don’t think we have it anymore.”

Truth be told, they probably do have it, they just can’t find it in their piles of junk treasures in the basement. And while it would have been downright homey and nostalgic of me to read the actual book that my parents read me to my own children, I’ll have to admit that the scratch-and-sniff stickers have lost their scent even on the 2005 edition of the book.

Oh, but never fear…a lovely reviewer on Amazon has found replacement stickers that smell the same as the original. Now, they aren’t exactly the same stickers from the Little Golden book, but who cares if you can still re-live the magical scent of the season? So, kudos to that woman for doing the searching and sharing with the rest of us!

You may already know…but scent is such a powerful trigger of memory. It has something to do with the amygdala (emotion center) and the hippocampus (primitive brain), and that’s why the smells can transport us right back to our childhood when times were simpler and the magic of the season was so wonderfully elusive.

This book is truly a treasure and a wonderful addition to your holiday library. Make a memory with your child(ren) today.

[Image source: P.S. replacement stickers don’t include the Gingerbread sticker as the scent is not as authentic as it could be. You can try making you own using the Betty Crocker gingerbread cookie box mix]