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The Magic of Christmas in Books for Little Ones

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The Magic of Christmas in Books for Little Ones

Working in a book shop is a little like Christmas all year long, with Christmas just that much more fun because of the beautiful Christmas books for children that appear at this time of year.

Three of my favourites this year are The Christmas Farm, Who Would Like a Christmas Tree? and a new The Night Before Christmas.

Who Would like a Christmas Tree? written by Ellen Bryan Obed and illustrated by Anne Hunter is sub-titled “A tree for all seasons”. We begin with “Who would like Christmas Tree in January?” “We would answer the black-capped chickadees.” As the year advances we meet the many woodland birds, animals and insects; monarch butterflies, beavers, deer, fox, and wild turkeys among them, who make the forest of evergreen trees their home all year long. And, finally, of course the family, children and parents, who choose one tree of the many in the forest, to take home and decorate for Christmas in December.

Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray and illustrated by Barry Root is another brilliant match of text and illustration. This book is sure to be a favourite with families of all ages. Wilma is a woman of uncertain age, formerly a petunia gardener, now a tree farmer. With the assistance of her five year old neighbour, Parker, Wilma plans the planting of the trees – rows and rows, trees that will mature over many, many years, while both Wilma and Parker grow older as well. In summer the birds visit, and the moose in the fall and winter. Parker and Wilma care for the trees, until they are finally ready to harvest. Trees that “far away in rooms they never saw, in places they never knew, trees that Wilma and Parker had grown wore lights and balls and tinsel in their branches – green balsam branches that smelled the sweet smell of Christmas.”

There are many versions of the classic Christmas poem by Clement Clarke Moore The Night Before Christmas. This year’s new version, illustrated by Rachel Isadora, is as vibrant and lively as a bright snowy day. This is “mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap” with an African family in tropical splendor awaiting Jolly St. Nick. We have Santa and the reindeer and palm trees and spectacular West African kente cloth. When my family lived in Ghana my father took great delight in shocking friends and relatives in Canada by sending Christmas cards featuring a very black Holy family. In our multi-cultural world this now seems simply delightful, adding even more colour and joy to the holiday.

And so for another year - Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night.

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