Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Christmas Magic

I have to say I don't exactly love most children's Christmas books. As I've already mentioned, my go-to Christmas book is by Dylan Thomas, and while it has humor and good cheer, it's not exactly about bounding reindeer and unique snowflakes and the power of hugs and all that. Mostly, kids Christmas books are just too... gooey. I don't want golden-hued colored pencil drawings, or computer-illustrated, weirdly-shaped people. It needs to be juuuust right- not too cute, not didactic, the art has to be good, the story has to be unique enough that I would want to read it aloud over and over. Perhaps I'm being too picky, but I can pass by table after table of red and green books and not feel one inkling of Christmas spirit. I'm not Grinchy, either. So every year, I keep a lookout for something that has that Goldilocks just-right feeling. And every once in awhile, I find a keeper. My most recent favorite is from last year, and I want you to come look at it.

The Christmas Magic, as a title, sounds bad. Like, suuuper cheesy. I wouldn't have picked it up if it weren't by Lauren Thompson and illustrated by total watercolor superhero Jon Muth (I would wallpaper my house with that man's illustrations). It's about Santa getting ready for the big day, and it just contains so much charm and small detail (reindeer eating parsnips, Santa's whiskers tingling) that it sets itself apart from all the faux-jolliness. He trims his whiskers, darns his socks, polishes the sleigh. It's the kind of this-is-how-we-go-about-our-day story that kids from two or three on up (and me) just loooove. And then he waits for the magic that apparently comes every year, and when it's time, and he's standing in his sleigh looking up at the stars, "the night begins to thrum with magic, the kind of magic that makes reindeer fly." THANK YOU FOR THRUM. What a superb word. Something about this particular Santa's elfin stature (he's a "jolly old elf," remember?), his pointy mustache that's wider than his face, his little reindeer's goofy smile. It all makes me feel a little, well, Christmas-y.

-Anna, Kids Books

P.S. Apparently, Scholastic has a book trailer for it, but I don't really have time to check it out (there's so much to do around here this time of year I feel like our previously mentioned elf friend) so you'll have to let me know if it makes the book seem lame. I promise it's lovely. Book trailer here.

1 comment:

  1. My sister got this out of the library for my niece and I sat and read it with her over and over. I love the illustrations. I may have to add it to my library of children's books (to satisfy my inner child...)


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