Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I love Wednesdays

Wednesdays are great because I work 1-8. I get to spend my whole mornings with Emma and we usually go to the bookstore to look at books. Emma just loves that place and always bolts straight back to her section. I was so relieved that they had stuffed snowmen there for only 8 dollars. Emma is totally obsessed with snowmen and I just couldn't see paying 17 dollars for the tiny one that came in gift set of Snowmen at Christmas. This one is twice as large and super cute. Anyway, I came across two really sweet books for Christmas and though I have made my pick for the week I couldn't resist talking about these. With one week to go they would make perfect Christmas presents.
The first is simply called The Snowman by Raymond Briggs and its a quiet book that tells of the friendship between a little boy and the snowman he makes. There are no words in this book, just uncomplicated illustrations that free up your imagination and that of your little one. The story can take on so many courses and voices.

The second one is Madeline's Christmas. It is an oldie but a goodie. To be honest I have never read a Madeline book until today, GASP! I just never got into her and though I do have one of her books written by Ludwig Bemelmans' son, I never have sat down to read the original. I do enjoy Bemelmans' illustrations and the mere fact that Madeline lives in Paris. Even though the title says Christmas, it really isn't a traditional Christmas book, there is no talk of Santa or baby Jesus, which is why I guess I gravitated towards it. I love how neutral it is, yet is still filled with wonder and magic. The basis of the story is everyone is ill at the boarding school except for Madeline who must assume the role of caregiver. She comes across as strange caller who has promised the girls a night of magic. What ensues is a jovial story of compassion and enchantment.

Since I am talking about Christmas books I just want to revisit two of my all time favorite Christmas books. I mentioned them last year and I just feel these are a must haves for your children's library.

the original cover, I really wish they had kept it

The first is Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry. It tells of Mr. Willowby and his enormous tree that is simply too large to fit in his house. His butler cuts off the tip and instead of throwing it away he decides to pass it on to the maid. The maid takes it in only to realize it is too large for her tiny apartment and so she must also cut off a part. She then passes the remaining bit to the next person and so forth and so forth. I do not want to spoil this book by telling you about each person it goes through, but it is just a delightful book that teaches little ones about not wasting and the capacity of loving even the tiniest of trees. How something that one person might not even give a second glance to, can bring such joy and gratitude to the next person.

And finally, Mortimer's Christmas Manger, written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman. This book is perhaps the most "religious" book on this list as it actually talks about the true meaning of Christmas. Omitted are Santa and instead children are presented with the Nativity story. This book does this in a very sophisticated yet comprehensible manner that is never overly preachy or in your face. Mortimer is a mouse who lives in a cold hole of someone's home and becomes excited we he sees a mouse sized house. He believes the humans have left it for him. He quickly removes the unwanted guests and settles into his new digs and comfy straw bed. He becomes annoyed when he notices that each day the tiny people are placed back inside. The way Mortimer rolls baby Jesus out is quite humorous without being irreverent. Needles to say that what follows is a touching story that teaches children the true meaning of Christmas and I just love the moment where Mortimer realizes who theses "intruders" really are. The illustrations are just lovely and you cant help but fall in love with Mortimer. I myself have been struggling with how or when to start talking to Emma about baby Jesus, since so far she relates Christmas to Santa and snowmen. I grew up going to Christian schools and I do want Emma to have a sense of that, but I'm still trying to find the right balance. My main goal in life is for Emma to be a giving and caring person that treats all people equally and with respect. For me teaching your child compassion is the true meaning of Christmas.

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