Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Shorts - Christmas Books edition

I like to spend time in December reading several Christmas books that I have collected over the years - it's a tradition my mom started with us when we were kids, and I plan to continue it with my kiddos in the coming years. There is something about reading and re-reading these familiar stories that is comforting in these busy days - they are some of my favorite stories, and I look forward to unpacking them every year.

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry - illustrations by Lisbeth Zwerger
this edition published 1997
32 pages

Synopsis from publisher -

One dollar and eight-seven cents is all the money Della has in the world to buy her beloved husband a Christmas present. She has nothing to sell except her only treasure - her long, glorious brown hair. This warm story of love, sacrifice, and generosity exemplifies the spirit of hope and giving and has earned a place as a timeless piece of American literature.

My thoughts -

It's a classic, and the illustrations by Lisbeth Zwerger really make this edition special. Every year I am touched again by Della and Jim, and their silly, extravagant love for each other.

The Bells of Christmas by Virginia Hamilton
copyright 1997
62 pages

Synopsis from publisher -

Twelve-year-old Jason Bell waits impatiently for Christmas 1890. Set against the carefully researched background life of a middle-class black family in Ohio a century ago, this ALA-Notable book tells of the wonderful Christmas Jason and his family celebrate together.

My thoughts - I happened upon this book a few years back, and it's quickly become one of my favorites. Jason's family feels warm and alive, and I can't help but get excited with Jason, his sister Melissy, and their friend Matthew, as they wait for their relatives to arrive, and Santa to appear. It's a charming portrait of a family in 1890's middle America, and a fun history lesson as well.

The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown - illustrations by Jim LaMarche
this edition published 2009 - original text copyright 1954
32 pages

Synopsis from publisher -

Once there was a tree that stood in a field away from the other trees. It longed to be part of the forest - or part of anything at all. After many lonely years, its dream came true, and the little fir tree's life changed forever.

My thoughts - A charming story by the author of Goodnight Moon, this should be on every child's shelf. The illustrations are simply gorgeous, and the story itself is lovely. A delight to read each year.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
published 1972
80 pages

Synopsis from publisher -

The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear, and hit little kids. So no one is prepared when this outlaw family invades church one Sunday and decides to take over the annual Christmas pageant.

None of the Herdmans has ever heard the Christmas story before. Their interpretation of the tale - the Wise Men are a bunch of dirty spies and Herod needs a good beating - has a lot of people up in arms. But it will make this year's pageant the most unusual anyone has ever seen, and, just possibly, the best one ever.

My thoughts -

Imogene Herdman is one of my favorite characters in literature - every year I see the Christmas story through her eyes, and every year I am reminded of what a strange and unlikely story it truly is. This is a book for kids, but it's just as powerful for adults - if you haven't read it, find a copy. "Hey! Unto you a child is born!"

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
this edition published 2008
160 pages

Synopsis from publisher -

The story of Ebeneezer Scrooge opens on a Christmas Eve as cold as Scrooge's heart. That night, he receives three ghostly visitors: the terrifying Spirits of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come. Each takes him on a heart-stopping journey, yielding glimpses of Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit, the horrifying spectres of Want and Ignorance, even Scrooge's painfully hopeful younger self. Will Scrooge's heart by opened? Can he reverse the miserable future he is forced to see?

My thoughts -

For all the times I've experienced this story, this is the first time I've actually read the entire thing start to finish. I'm not done yet - Scrooge has just survived the first Spirit - but I'm finding it a wonderful read. I might have to wait a few years to share this one with my kids, but it will definitely be a Christmas tradition in our house.

Are you reading anything special for the holidays? Do you have any literary Christmas traditions? What are your favorite Christmas books - my shelves want to know!

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I love The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!