On the fourth day of Christmas, my blogger shared with me…
angels, stars, and presents explained!
My Merry Christmas: And the real reason for Christmas joy,
by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Linda Clearwater
(2003, Standard Publishing, ISBN 978-0-7847-1449-2)
This 8”x8” board book is full of glitter and simple biblical explanations for some of the traditions of a modern Christmas.
“What is Christmas? Do you know?
Gifts and food and lots of snow?
Twinkling lights and Christmas tree?
Angels, stars, and family?
Yes, all of that and even more!
So, what is Christmas really for?”
This is the first stanza of the book, and it is a pretty good explanation of what the book is about. First, a page introduces a different part of the trappings of Christmas—lights, angels, the tree, the star, and the gifts—then you turn the page to find what part of the nativity story can be associated with that tradition. Each new concept word is printed a little larger than the rest of the text to draw attention to it. After the initial stanza with an AABBCC rhyming pattern, each new part of the story has an AABBB rhyme scheme—the first two lines are on the introduction page, then the last three are on the explanation page. The meter is a little awkward in parts—it doesn’t always flow naturally from the sentence structure—so a little rehearsal may be necessary for a smooth read-through to a little one. Still, the content is good and simple enough for very young children, and the story ends with the first part of John 3:16: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son.”
Visually, the book has a gentle but festive feel; the colors, though bright, aren’t overly bold, and the glittery accents are plentiful but subtle enough not to distract from the picture. The (probably watercolor) illustrations alternate between a family decorating for Christmas and biblical scenes from the Christmas story. The Bible scenes fill the full page, and the family scenes are inset on a white background with a colored line border and the seasonal symbol at each corner. Cut-outs create layers within each illustration of the modern celebration that show a little peek of what’s coming up next. The characters are cartoon realistic, more closely resembling what you would find on a greeting card than on an animated show, and have an almost doll-like softness to them, making them a wonderful addition to a book for young (pre-)readers.
GirlChild’s Reactions: GirlChild is at the stage where she likes glitter, and she’s rediscovering texture because of BoyChild’s interest in it. When I read this book to her this year (we’ve owned it for three Christmas seasons now), the glitter patches were the first thing she noticed. Last year and the year before that, it was the orange-striped cat that shows up (part of it, at least!) on every spread. (Little kids *always* like those repeating figures that pop up throughout a book!) I was pleased that after reading the book this year, she actually answered a question about what the star on the tree (in another book, I believe) meant…she said it meant that Jesus came! (I’ve been mortified that every question about the meaning of Christmas that I’ve asked her this year up until that point somehow involved presents (and lots of them)!) She’s still little, but I like that she’s starting to learn already that there is much more to Christmas than getting gifts, and this book gives a starting point for those little reminders that can come up during the season as we do our other things.
Additional titles by the author:
(Spell Outloud Homeschool did a quick summary and activity idea for this book!)
Additional titles by the illustrator: