Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Reading

Beginning on the first of December, we start reading holiday books and open one door each night on our advent calendar house. Last year we read one or two chapters a night of Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol, but this year we are reading (and rereading!) holiday picture books. We have enjoyed some wonderful ones, so I thought I would share our favorites.

Cranberry Christmas by Wende and Harry Devlin

This book is a follow-up of Cranberry Thanksgiving, in which we meet Grandmother, Maggie, and the gruff but lovable Mr. Whiskers who all live near a cranberry bog in Cranberryport, New England. In Cranberry Christmas, we find that Mr. Whiskers is in danger of losing his ice-skating pond, where he enjoys having the neighborhood children skate at their leisure, to old Cyrus Grape. Not only that, but Mr. Whiskers is also flustered that his well-meaning sister will be visiting soon and forcing him to move in with her, as she believes he cannot take care of himself. Maggie and Grandmother, Mr. Whiskers' sweet friends, help him out when Mr. Whiskers needs it most.

We love this book! Mr. Whiskers is a favorite character from Cranberry Thanksgiving, but the story holds up well on its own. I adore the style of illustration, as it reminds me of books I read when I was younger. Aidyn loves hearing about Mr. Whiskers and his silly sayings ("Suffering codfish!). But within its pages, we learn about community service, helping friends when they need support, and even the mess of property deeds and rightful ownership!

Dream Snow by Eric Carle

We love Eric Carle books, especially The Grouchy Ladybug and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This holiday favorite, Dream Snow, is about a man who dreams of winter snow and celebrates the beauty of the holiday with the animals who live on his farm and a quaint little tree. At the end is a sweet little musical surprise.

I think this book is delightful. It's perfect for little ones, but Aidyn enjoyed the simple story, the names of the farm animals, and, of course, the little surprise at the end.

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo

Great Joy  is a story about a little girl named Frances who spies a lonely organ grinder and his monkey from her apartment window. Despite having a very important pageant to practice for, Frances is intrigued by the organ grinder's life and even forces herself to stay awake one night to see where he goes, as everyone must go "somewhere." We later discover that this little girl's great joy is pinned on including this man in her world, if only for a moment.

 Although Great Joy isn't as secular as I would like it to be, the message is worldly and the emotions of the characters are palpable. This story is a little window into a world most of us pass by without thinking: where do the lonely people go when the streets are quiet? The realistic illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline beautifully capture the time and space of this 1930s tale and the innocent and insistent curiosity on little Frances' face. This story also gave us an opportunity to talk about joy, what it is, where it comes from, and the source of Frances' joy.

Other holiday books we have shared and enjoy:

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
A Creature Was Stirring: One Boy's Night before Christmas by Carter Goodrich
The Wild Christmas Reindeer  by Jan Brett

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