Monday, December 3, 2007

Gift ideas: Favourite Christmas books

Over the next few weeks, we'll be posting our gift picks in a variety of different book categories. Now that it seems certain we'll have a White Christmas (at least in Ontario), I thought we'd start off with some of the Deweys' favourite Christmas books.

Anne's Picks:
I have loved this book for years. As Miss Read fans would know, Miss Read is a school teacher in the Cotswolds in England just after WW I and into the 1950’s. Her stories are about people - her students, neighbours, shopkeepers, school cleaner, parish priest. Her Christmas stories are something I turn to every December. It is such a busy time at work and home, and these stories give me peace, warmth, calm and comfort.
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote, Illustrated by Beth Peck with CD narrated by Celeste Holm
I discovered this book some years ago, on recommendation from one of my booksellers, and recently I obtained the copy with the wonderful narration by Celeste Holm. The story is based on Truman Capote’s own life and describes how he and his eccentric, elderly cousin went about with an old baby carriage fetching the ingredients to make Christmas cakes to give as presents. From the cracking of the walnuts to the rum, the reader is involved in this warm, lovely process. The best thing in this book is the relationship between Buddy and his cousin.
The Olden Days Coat by Margaret Laurence, Illustrated by Muriel Wood
What could be better than a Christmas story of a ten-year-old girl, her grandmother, an old farm house, and a trip back in time. Sal learns about the importance of a treasured heirloom, the magic of friendships long ago, and family. Margaret Laurence tells a wonderful, timeless story accompanied by Muriel Wood’s beautiful illustrations. I have the original version of this book, first published in 1982. Muriel also illustrated a later version and her illustrations, just as beautiful, depict a slightly different time.

Maylin's Picks:
As most of my fellow Deweys can attest, I tend to get fairly grumpy around Christmas. I just can't stand all the commercialism and the pop xmas carols playing everywhere (though I do love the traditional ones sung by choirs). I automatically loathe any xmas book that has any mention of Santa in it (save for the Grinch). So when I think of Christmas books, I tend to think of certain scenes. The shy Matthew Cuthbert buying the puff-sleeved dress for Anne. Mr. Edwards battling his way through the snowstorm to make it to the Ingalls farm in Little House in the Prairie. The March sisters finding Pilgrim's Progress under their pillows (in different colours too!). And NYRB has just re-published John Masefield's Box of Delights. Reading this really took me back to my childhood when I devoured British children's lit and marvelled at how much more grown-up all the kids were compared to me and my friends. They STILL are. In this wonderful tale, Kay Harker is entrusted with a magical box that can take him into the past, make him tiny, and whisk him to where he wants to go very quickly. But an evil gang is after the box and, convinced that it may have been handed to the Bishop for safekeeping, is starting to "scrobble" or kidnap all of the clerics in the cathedral town. Kay has to rescue them in time for the Christmas service in the middle of a huge, magical snowstorm. The dialogue is so witty and surreal. Definately for Philip Pullman or E. Nesbit fans. And not a ho, ho, ho in sight.

Rosalyn's picks:
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss -The old classic
Winter’s Gift by Jane Monroe Donovan - The new classic: A beautiful and touching picture book about an elderly man for whom Christmas holds no joy, only painful memories of his beloved wife. A chance snowstorm brings him companionship, comfort and hope.
The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell- A sweet picture book that celebrates what is important to focus on for the holidays (family and friendship) rather than the commercial.
On Strike for Christmas by Sheila Roberts - A charming revenge fantasy for women who do all of the work for the holidays while their significant others/family lounge! A small town knitting group stages a boycott to try to force their husbands to shop, decorate, send Christmas cards, cook & clean for a change...

Saffron's pick:
Olive the Other Reindeer 10th Anniversary Edition by J. Otto Seibold. What says "Merry Christmas" more than a pop-up Penguin!

Susan's pick:
Penguin’s Special Christmas Tree, by Jeannie St. John Taylor, illustrated by Molly Idle. This sweet, quirky tree-trimming adventure delivers a message about teamwork, friendship, and the importance of never giving up.For ages 4-6

1 comment:

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