Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Night Before Christmas

Every year I talk about how you MUST read The Night Before Christmas, a poem by Clement C. Moore so beloved that it's been popularized into picture book form.

It's so popular, in fact, the question isn't if you can find a copy but which copy should you take home.  I've shared my favorites over the years, and here's another recommended illustrated copy with pictures by the prolific children's illustrator Gyo Fujikawa (c. 1961, reprinted 2007).

My very favorite illustration in the whole book is:

But wait, I didn't include the whole spread.  To find out what the rest of this picture looks like, you'll have to check out the book from your local library or pick up a version for yourself at your favorite book store.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet

We know what the story is about (c. 1983, author Deborah Hautzig).

But have you seen Diane Goode's quirky illustrations of this Nutcracker?  If not, you're in for a treat in the Land of Sweets.

Her characters look like you could just reach right into the pages and pull out your very own doll . . . they're so droll!

In fact, the only disappointment with The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet is that the characters don't actually come to life, even after a midwinter nap.

The Nutcracker Ballet

If you'd like a copy of The Nutcracker Ballet that your youngster can read for himself, check out this Step 3 version by Deborah Hautzig and illustrated by Carolyn Ewing (c. 1992).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Would you like a fresh look at that very first Christmas?  If so, I recommend looking at Barbara Robinson's The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and rediscovering Christmas through the eyes of the Herdmans.

The Herdmans?!!! you ask.  Aren't they the kids who dodge a banging garage door for fun?  Aren't they the kids who burned down Fred Shoemaker's shed?  Aren't they the kids who smoked cigars in the church ladies bathroom?  Yep, those are the ones.

What could we possibly learn from them? you may ask.  Well, the Herdmans help us revisit Mary and Joseph's journey to a bustling, unfamiliar Bethlehem, and their arrival just in time for Jesus' birth.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever isn't just a book for the kids; it's is a book for parents too.  It pushes us to reconsider why we're doing all we're doing this holiday season.  Is it TRADITION! Tradition! (Thank you, Reb Tevye!), etc.?  Or are we intentionally setting out to bless someone other than ourself?

Take time out to read Barbara Robinson's 80 page book with your family this season.  Somewhere among the sidesplitting humor rests the true spirit of the Christmas season.