You didn’t really expect me to give up the Christmas bookish chatter last week, did you? I didn’t either. 🙂
We only added Laurel Long’s The Twelve Days of Christmas to our collection last year, which is the only reason I haven’t written about it yet. This book is a true feast for the eyes! It’s sort of a very sophisticated I Spy type book, though really, even making that comparison is a little misleading. Each two page spread illustrates a line of the famous Christmas song, and within each two-page spread are hidden all of the animals or people or objects from the previous days. That means that on the last couple of pages there are something like seventy-eight hidden objects. Long’s illustrations are lush and gorgeous oil paintings that really encourage close study. The inside dust jacket provides an answer key to all the hidden images, but I try not to focus on that and just enjoy the art. My girls actually read it aloud one busy day last week after breakfast and shared a kitchen chair so they could both study the paintings. (That they did this with nary a squabble is noteworthy indeed, and reason for the poor quality of the pictures below. I didn’t want to spoil the moment by playing paparazzi. Maybe you get an idea of just how beautiful this book is.) We give this one a Highly Recommended! (Dial, 2011)
Kirsten cited Christmas in the Trenches as a new favorite Christmas read-aloud for her family, and I must concur. (Actually, there’s more than one book by this title, so I’m only assuming this picture book by John McCutcheon is the one she means. Kirsten?) Steady Eddie brought this one home for us from a science conference he attended. (Yes, a Christmas-themed history book at a science conference! As weird as that seems, the whole scenario warms my heart because it shows how well Steady Eddie knows me! 😉 ) My girls know very little about World War I, so this book was a gentle introduction to the War to End All Wars. It’s actually a fictionalized account of the very real Christmas Truce of 1914, when Allied and German forces ceased their fighting (or, in the case of this stalemate, mostly aggressive waiting, I think) over a shared singing of “Silent Night.” After this initial ice-breaker, the men met in no-man’s-land and chatted and even enjoyed an impromptu game of soccer! Folk musician John McCutcheon actually wrote his fictionalized account as a song, and from there it was turned into this beautiful picture book. Henri Sørensen’s oil-on-canvas are soft and luminous, the perfect accompaniment to this picture book. (Sørensen also illustrated another favorite historical picture book of mine, this one set during World War II–The Yellow Star by Carmen Agra Deedy.) Our copy of the book even includes a CD of “Silent Night,” the song, and the story. I love that I can sneak in a bit of history, even into our Christmas “fun” reading. Highly Recommended. (Peachtree Publishers, 2006)
This last one’s just for fun. 🙂 Someone out in book or homeschooling blogdom mentioned Emmet Otter’s Jug-band Christmas as a favorite, so when I saw it at the library I had to bring it home. How can one go wrong with Russell and Lillian Hoban, the ultra-talented husband/wife duo that gave us the Frances stories?!?! I hate to admit that I was a teensy bit disappointed in this one, mainly because I think I expected it to be funny in the same way that Frances is funny to me as an adult, and it isn’t. What it is, though, is a sweet and slightly odd little “Gift of the Magi” type story about Emmet Otter and his mother and a mix-up involving homemade musical instruments, homegrown talent, and a desire to earn money in a swampland talent show. I like the nod to the obnoxiousness of an extremely loud rock band, especially. My girls were excited to learn that Jim Henson turned it into a movie, but I’ve been unable to locate a copy of it to show them so far. I haven’t given up yet, though. This is a fun read. (Parent’s Magazine Press, 1971)
What are you reading with your family?