Sorry, sorry….I couldn’t help myself. I’ve been making infinity scarves all weekend.
I made seven of these, all cozy and ready to wrap up for friends and family. The fleece for all of the scarves is minky dimple dot. The jersey knit is from Riley Blake and Valorie Wells, courtesy of the super fast shipping from Hawthorne Threads.
Mr. K took the little ones out to a movie today so I could check a bunch of things off the to-do list. The stockings went up, Christmas present inventory was taken (still some work to do there), and gift tags were printed so I can start wrapping sometime later this week. I’m quite taken with printables this year! Heavy weight paper in the printer, cute tags from the Elli blog and Kelli Murray downloaded, ten peaceful minutes with scissors, and voila – tags!
Wishing you a peaceful week –
I recently met Cathryn Mercier, Director of the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College, at a holiday event. She was discussing 2013 children’s books and sharing printed lists of recommended titles. Besides being a welcoming and enthusiastic proponent of children’s literature, Mercier is a frequent contributor to The Horn Book and has been a member of both the Newbery and Caldecott award committees. In other words, she knows her stuff.
The following is Mercier’s list of classic holiday titles, originally prepared for the Highlands Congregational Church, which Mercier has graciously allowed me to reprint. She includes my favorite Dylan Thomas (yay!) and also one title that I can’t believe I left off my list, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. My only excuse is that it wasn’t on the shelf for reference at the time; instead, it was tucked into our reading spot in the kids’ room. If that isn’t a recommendation, I don’t know what is.
Merry reading, everyone!
- Little Santa, Jon Agee
- The Snowman, Raymond Briggs
- The Clown of God, Tomie dePaola
- A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens, illus. P.J. Lynch
- The Story of Holly & Ivy, Rumer Godden, illus. Barbara Cooney
- The Nutcracker, E.T.A. Hoffman, illus. Maurice Sendak
- My First Kwanzaa, Karen Katz
- Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, Eric Kimmel, illus. Trina Schart Hyman
- Star Mother’s Youngest Child, Louise Moeri, illus. Trina Schart Hyman
- The Night Before Christmas, Clement C. Moore, illus. Rachel Isadora
- Baboushka and the Three Kings, Ruth Robbins, illus. Nicolas Kidjakov
- The Christmas Alphabet, Robert Sabuda
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Suess
- Dusk, Uri Shulevitz
- Hanukkah: A Counting Book, Emily Spier
- A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas, illus. Ellen Raskin
- The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg
- The Nativity, Julie Vivas
- L’il Rabbit’s Kwanzaa, Donna L Washington, illus. Shane W. Evans
Well, sort of. I’ve pulled the decoration boxes out of the basement and started to put a few things out. We’ll get our tree and really deck the halls this weekend. For now, I have my village, my angel, and a whole stack of Christmas and winter books. Oh, and another Santa star! I’m particularly fond of this little guy. Something about his buttons and green eyes….
I made the Christmas village last year using these templates as a base. The Boy decided my bottle brush tree belonged in the village, despite its size, and I think he’s right. There are plans for village expansion this year – another house and some sort of village green. Maybe some tiny people, or at least a dog.
My grandmother bought the angel for me when I was small, a special treat one year. We were at Russell’s Garden Center and there was also an angel with a red dress, and I had a hard time deciding which one was lovelier. She’s sweet, isn’t she? Miss R and I love her so.
Now, about those books. What would the holidays be without special books? It’s hard for me to decide what to write about first. My childhood favorite? The one I discovered as a bookseller? The one my kids ask me to read over and over? They are all special. I will go quickly, so you can see which appeals to you and run off to find it.
Winter Poems by Barbara Rogasky is a beautiful collection of famous and not-so-famous poems, illustrated with glowing paintings by Trina Schart Hyman that capture the winter landscape, from snow-covered roofs to the soft early dark of December. This was my bookseller favorite.
Little Tree by e.e.cummings and illustrated by Deborah Kogan Kay. The paintings that illustrate this gentle poem have a wispy, magical quality that matches the sweetness of a brother and sister’s excitement when they find a downtrodden little tree and take it home to decorate for their own.
I’ve written, briefly, about Red Sled before and it deserves another mention here. This bright and joyful (nearly) wordless picture book by Lita Judge captures the fun of deep snow, a good sled, and friends to share the day with.
When I was young, my father would read A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas aloud on Christmas Eve. Later, he assigned us parts, and I still laugh at the descriptions of the somnolent cigar-smoking uncles and the whistles that would “blow him off the face of Christmas.” This particular edition, illustrated with simple woodcuts by Ellen Raskin, is my favorite.
And then there’s Mr. Willoby’s Christmas Tree, by Robert Barry, which some brilliant person decided to bring back into print a few years ago. They added some color to it but it’s still charming. Mr. Willoby’s Christmas tree, which came by special delivery, is too tall for his house. The butler chops off the top, and from there the ever-decreasing tree trimmings grace the homes of the local wildlife, finishing with the diminutive Mistletoe Mouse.
Young revelers, in simple costumes and with great enthusiasm, perform a house-to-house swashbuckling holiday play featuring a dragon in this cheerful book by Richard Schotter. The back of the book offers a quick history of Christmas revels and encourages kids to try their own.
I can’t skip this classic by Ezra Jack Keats. The Snowy Day follows young Peter’s exploration of his urban winter wonderland, from funny tracks to snow angels to an attempt to keep a snowball for the next day.
The Night Before Christmas, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard, takes the classic poem and renders it in stylized 1940s paintings. The printing blurs the images here and there and Santa appears with a little soot on his beard. I’ve always liked how this version of the poem uses classic Christmas images in a less cutesy way.
I couldn’t resist adding my brother’s childhood favorite here, The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy by Jane Thayer. Petey wants a boy for Christmas but his mother tells him that they are in short supply, so he must find his own. He is just about to give up when a chance meeting grants his wish and brings joy to a lonely little boy.
For the very little ones, DK’s Baby Touch and Feel series offers a cute chubby book with bright holiday images. It’s a fun and simple way to introduce a baby to some of the strange new decorations they’ll see over the holidays.
Miss R is fond of this little board book featuring Duck & Goose, It’s Time for Christmas. It’s a quick little story in which Goose, distracted by sledding and snow angels and winter fun, is led by a patient Duck to a tree-trimming party.
Tell me, what are your favorite winter and holiday books?