It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Cindy: Not at my house, it’s not. The tree is up (but not decorated) and nothing is hung by the chimney with care. I’m a little behind in my holiday decorating this year. Fortunately, there are Christmas books to add some holiday cheer to my home and for us to recommend for your collections or gift-giving. First up is The Story of Christmas, illustrated by Pamela Dalton (Chronicle 2011), a reverent presentation of the story of the Nativity based on the King James Bible. The familiar story of the birth of Jesus is gorgeously rendered in scherenschnitte paper cutting and then hand colored. Dalton also illustrated Katherine Paterson’s Brother Sun, Sister Moon with the paper cutting, and you can watch a video demonstration of the process here. The double page spread with baby Jesus in the manger is a stunning scene…just one among many in this beautiful book.

And for those of you, like me, who may not be up for the Martha Stewart version of the holidays this year (or any year), you may find comfort in The Perfect Christmas by Eileen Spinelli (Holt 2011).  Abigail Archer’s family puts together the perfect Christmas with all the traditional trappings and traditions. Our narrator’s family decorates with macaroni reindeer and bakes cookies that break uncle’s toe. The message that there’s no right or wrong way to celebrate the season might take some of the pressure off. I think I’ll leave the decorations in the basement storage this year and just read another book!

Lynn:  I am so inundated with books this year (it’s a great problem to have) that I have been thinking about stacking up the books in a tree shape and letting it go at that!  But then I’d probably need to read one in the bottom row so that really isn’t practical.  The holiday decorating scheme even in non-book committee years tends to be pretty slapdash anyway so the focus group and I thought Spinelli’s book was really funny.

You don’t have to create perfect holiday decorations to enjoy another beautiful new Christmas book, The Twelve Days of Christmas (Penguin/Dial 2011) by Laurel Long.  This visually stunning book illustrates the familiar Yule song in richly hued oil paintings.  Each two-page spread depicts one stanza such as Two Turtle Doves or Ten Lords a Leaping.  Hidden in each successive illustration are the images of the previous stanzas.  So in the Three French Hens illustration, a partridge and two turtle doves are cunningly hidden.  It takes SHARP eyes to find them too!  This is a wonderful book for multi-generations to enjoy together.  Just don’t lose the paper jacket because the key to the puzzles are located on the inside of that!

Of interest too is the author’s note that discusses the mysterious origins of the song and her own interpretations.  Well – back to trying to clear enough space to START decorating.  Hmm – maybe my idea of a book tree might work after all!

 

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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