I cannot remember where I first read about The Thirteen Days of Christmas by Jenny Overton, but I’m glad I took note of it. I started reading it aloud to my girls last Christmas but finally abandoned it because of our December trip to Disney World. Honestly, though, I think the girls enjoyed it a lot more this year. It’s the very, very English story of the Kitson family–Papa, Annaple, Prudence, James, and Christopher. The younger children and Papa are ready to marry Annaple off because she is such a fuss-budget at home–she’s ready to be mistress of her own home and family. They even have a prospective bridegroom–Francis Vere. However, Francis isn’t quite romantic enough to suit Annaple, so her younger siblings start coaching him on how to win Annaple’s heart. The story takes place (obviously) during the thirteen days of Christmas, so (obviously) Francis is inspired by the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” When Annaple writes him a positively glowing thank you note (because she’s proper that way) for the partridge in a pear tree that he sends her on day one, he goes over the top for day two, and his gifts keep getting more and more . . . more. 🙂 By the end of the story she ends up with 364 things–various and sundry birds (including hens Francis sailed to France to procure), pipers, drummers, leaping lords, etc. The chaos that ensues is quite entertaining!
Something about this story–whether it’s Annaple’s love of romance or the actual style of the writing–reminds me just a little it of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne Shirley. I really enjoyed it, and so did my girls. This has been a hectic and stressful season this Christmas, and I have lamented inwardly several times over the fact that I didn’t pull together a Christmas Around the World activity of any kind this year, and then it finally occurred to me that in reading this short chapter book, we actually did do Christmas Around the World! This book gives a very clear picture of what Christmas was like in England, with all its feast days and holy days. (Each chapter is named for a Day of Christmas–St. Nicholas’s Day, St. Thomas of Canterbury’s Day, Churching Day, Adam’s Day, etc.) Much of this was new and very foreign to us, but we just held on for the very enjoyable ride. We give this a very Highly Recommended. It’s perfect for a short Christmas read-aloud! (Just be prepared to sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” over and over again while reading it! 😉 ) (Oxford UP, 1972)
For more Christmas read-alouds, including chapter books, visit my Christmas Book Basket post.