Book Chat

Christmas Wishes

Amazon.com can be dangerous.  It’s the lists!  I’ve mentioned my Christmas book collection, that goes up with the Xmas boxes to the attic each January, and are only out to be read during the Christmas season.  I’ve also said that I don’t want to grow my collection too quickly, because I want to take the time to carefully choose each book for its content and illustrations and meaning.

But.  That didn’t stop me from looking at Amazon.  It started innocently enough.  I was thinking about winter books, and remembered the first blog post I’d ever read on SouleMama’s blog, which happened to be about the winter books she always brings out for her kids to read.  So I looked through her archives and found the post here.  And then, I started clicking on a few of the books she mentioned.  And then I started clicking on a few more books from there.  And from then on, the clicking never slowed.  And in the end, there was a Christmas Wish List. (Separate, of course, from my Children’s Lit Wish List, Fiction Wish List, and Crafty Wish List.  Ahem.  Have I mentioned I like lists?  And that Amazon is dangerous?)

The list is public (to give Sam gift ideas.  I’m a smart wife, aren’t I?) but if you’re interested in some new holiday books, here are a few that caught me eye:

The Christmas Magic, written by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Jon Muth (I love him!)

I spotted this picture book last Thanksgiving in a book store in Stone Harbor, NJ on a trip to visit family.  The illustrations caught my eye, and the text that I briefly read seemed sweet and beautiful.  I didn’t read the story all the way through, but from Amazon’s reviews I gather that it is the story of Santa preparing for Christmas.  But not the jolly, fat Santa we usually envision, instead it is a solitary and gentle Santa preparing for his grand night of giving.  It seems a little haunting and a little sad, but also beautiful and quiet.  So it goes on the list.

The Story of the Snow Children, written and illustrated by Sibylle Von Olfers

I don’t own any of Olfers’ books, but I covet them just the same.  I want them all, but I don’t know where to start.  The Root Children, The Wind Children, The Rabbit Children, Mother Earth and her Children…. I covet them all.  The illustrations are exquisite and Art Deco (my favorite) and most of her stories are poetic and naturalistic and lovely.  And where better to start than with snow children?  So this goes on the list.

The Twelve Days of Christmas, illustrated by Jan Brett

You’ve probably read and loved Jan Brett and her Scandinavian folk tales.  I love The Mitten and The Hat and her other stories.  But aside from her imaginative stories, her artwork really takes the cake.  Each page is filled with exquisite detail, often including tiny stories in the borders.  Love it!  So when you want a traditional story, or the words of a song illustrated, Jan Brett is a pretty surefire way to go.  So it goes on the list.

The Friendly Beasts, illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Speaking of song lyrics… this became one of my very favorite holiday songs when I heard Sufjan Stevens’ version of it on his album Ding! Dong! Songs for Christmas (Volume 3).  (You can download the song for $0.89 on Amazon.com here)  The lyrics are from the point of view of the animals in baby Jesus’ stable.  So when I saw that one of my favorite childhood artists Tomie dePaola (remember Strega Nona?) illustrated a book with these lyrics as the text, it had to go on the list.

Christmas Day in the Morning, written by Pearl S. Buck and illustrated by Mark Buehner

I remember reading this story some time, somewhere, a long time ago.  It’s the story of a 15-year-old boy who doesn’t know what to get his father for Christmas, but after overhearing how his father hates to wake him up for chores on the farm each morning, he decides to wake up three hours early on Christmas morning to do the milking for him.  I remember it being touching in a solid kind of way, not too sweet.  And I didn’t realize that it was written by Pearl S. Buck, who wrote The Good Earth, so that makes sense; The Good Earth is wonderful but it is anything but sweet.  So this too goes on the list.

Winter Lights: A Season in Poems and Quilts, by Anna Hines

This book consists of poems describing all the different holidays and events that happen during winter, and it’s illustrated with the author’s quilts!  Beautiful, beautiful.  I am really itching to own this book.  Hear that, Sam?  It definitely goes on the list.

And that’s about it.  They all seem lovely, don’t they?

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