Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas book giveaway [CLOSED]! And a favorite Christmas book tradition.

Yes, I hung the dough ornament of Yoda
that Levi made at preschool.
It seems like people turn to books more often at Christmastime than at any other time of the year. Am I right? I know my own holiday book collection features more Christmas and Winter titles than all the other holidays combined.

I'll tell you what I like to do with our Christmas books (and I'll shamelessly admit that I stole this tradition from my Everead co-blogger Ashley -- learn from the best!): Every year we wrap the Christmas books up like presents (even though they're mostly the same ones). Then we get to unwrap one each day and read! It's so super fun. Also it has the added advantage of staving off the children's pleas to open "just one present."

I confess, I haven't wrapped them up yet this year, but "yet" is the right word there. I fully intend to wrap up some of our favorites --The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Jan Brett, Barbara McClintock's The Gingerbread Man, and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. And I'm definitely going to wrap up The Night Before The Night Before Christmas by Jay Dee and Darren Geers -- since it's our newest. I've successfully kept it hidden from the kids, and I look forward to their surprise.

When the author of The Night Before The Night Before Christmas, Jay Dee, asked if I'd like to do a review and giveaway, my first thought was, "Too busy!" But my second thought came after I saw the cover image by Darren Geers.


When saw the cover, I thought, "This book has potential!" I was right. The interior illustrations are every bit as lovely as the cover -- my fave was probably the exterior of Santa's cabin, which you can peek at in the Amazon preview. I'm reasonably certain that the art was rendered digitally, and it does a great job of capturing texture and detail without feeling busy. The pages are laid out very well -- I didn't even notice how effortless reading this book was until I was looking consciously, for this review. There's great depth in the art, you'll notice. Even just on the cover you see the train in the foreground, Our protagonist Elfie is the star of the show, and behind him, who is that? Ah, St. Nick himself.

Anyway, let me tell you about the story. Elfie is a detail-oriented little guy and has spent quite a long time working on the little train you see before you. Too long, if you ask his elf supervisor. Tension builds as we fear a reprimand from Santa himself, but it turns out that Elfie's insistence on perfection was exactly what Santa was after. This is a special train, to be given to a special baby, Jesus.

I was initially put off by this anachronism -- toy trains were not a big thing when Baby Jesus was born. I'm pretty sure they came later. Very sure. But then I considered the overall message of the book, the respectful way Christ was brought into a secular story, the positive way I expect my children to receive the plot (despite it's incongruity to me, as an adult) and the fact that Christ has said "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto . . . my brethren, ye have done it unto me."   After these deliberations, I decided I could go with it.

The pacing of the book is on point, and the characters are endearing (with the exception of the two-dimensional demanding supervisor elf), and the text and picture pairing is seamless.

Overall I'd say this will make a charming addition to our collection of Christmas books.

I would love to know what book-related traditions you have around this holiday season, and what your favorite Christmas books are. I've got my eye on The Christmas Quiet Book, yes I do.

Leave a comment on this post to be entered in the giveaway! For an extra entry, tweet about the giveaway and tag me, @everead. Contest closes December 22, 2014. (Give Everead's Giveaway Policy the once-over if you haven't seen it yet.)

p.s. The links in this post are affiliate links, and here is one for Barnes and Noble, too, just in case! The Night Before The Night Before Christmas Merry Christmas!

Congratulations to our winner, Amy!

15 comments:

  1. We unwrap a book each night of December too. I've seen the idea pop up all over the Web the past few years and love seeing so many readers! We have lots of favorites including The Sweet Smells of Christmas (a scratch and sniff story from childhood), The Jolly Christmas Postman, Christmas from Heaven (about the Candy Bomber), Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree, The Christmas Train,Christmas is Here (Castillo) and The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey. Still more but I don't want my comment to be longer than your post!

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  2. I just love seeing these lists of Christmas stories! But I am still hesitant about the featured title. I really don't want to mix fun fantasy with sacred truth for fear of diminishing it's reality - even a little bit. I will just have to read it and see. :)

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    1. I know what you mean. I read it to the kids tonight and it went well. The first words out of Benjamin's mouth were, "it's kind of weird that they were going to give a new toy to someone in olden times..." followed by a discussion of the anachronism.

      Then I asked them, "What was your favorite part?" Benjamin's favorite part was "When Santa said it was fine [that Elfie had taken extra time]." Levi's favorite part was "when he [Elfie] said it was perfect."

      So, not really much discussion about the mention of Jesus. I kind of feel like the story's main message is one of "not getting stressed out." And I think the kids liked that. I think the story could be just as effective for the kids if the train was being given to anybody. So then it's like, "Well, why do we need to invoke Jesus in the discussion? Is that taking His name in vain?" I will look forward to discussing these things with them when they're older.

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  3. We have the same tradition--unwrapping a Christmas book each day. My kids love it. Every year I try to add a new book to our collection. This year it was Santa Claus: The World's No. 1 Toy Expert by Marla Frazee. (I adore Marla Frazee!) This one looks quite cute as well.

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    1. *gasp* I did not know Marla Frazee had a Christmas book! (For loving her style so much I am not very good at keeping up with what she has done.) Oh, thank you for mentioning this!

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  4. I love the idea of unwrapping a Christmas book each night of December. My daughter just turned one and I just started collecting Christmas books for her. So far we have Frosty the Snowman and a Santa book. I am definitely going to start this tradition with her next year since we don't have a book tradition yet and I don't have a lot of books yet. Thanks for the idea and for the giveaway! This book has amazing illustrations and I love the idea/story line of the book!

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    1. I tweeted too! https://mobile.twitter.com/kimchez76/status/546896772740562945

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    2. Yay! One year olds don't know much about unwarpping, but it won't be long until this tradition comes in handy for ya, haha. :)

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  5. I've never heard of the unwrapping a Christmas book idea, but wrapping things I already own definitely fits with my overall minimalist sensibilities! I am actually hard pressed to come up with any essential Christmas books, which is funny because I do love Christmas. And although I mostly dislike Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday book is probably "Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving." Go figure.

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    1. Never heard of Thank You Sarah, I will have to check that one out!

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  6. I have a friend who sewed cute Christmas sacks for the books they put under the tree. Maybe not as fun for kids as ripping off paper, but certainly easier on mom in the long run and still something to look forward to!

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    1. aww, that IS fun! I love fabric, but can never think of easy projects to suit me. This one sounds easy and useful. Right up my alley! Thanks Michelle!

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  7. I love the idea of unwrapping and reading a Christmas book each night before Christmas. We'll have to start that with my little ones. Our tradition is to give each child "something to read" each year. This year my baby girl is getting "Mommy Calls Me Monkeypants" and my truck-loving toddler is getting "Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site." I'm going to have start collecting some fun Christmas stories. Thanks for the recommendations!

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    1. I love the idea of giving "something to read" each year! But maybe that's just because I can never get enough of books. :D

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  8. One of our favorite Christmas books is Olivia Helps with Christmas. It just cracks us up. The Grinch is a classic, of course, along with The Polar Express. I also love the book I was given to review and give away on the blog a while back, The Christmas Magic. It captures the magic so beautifully. And finally, one that is special to me because I grew up with it and because it is so gorgeous is The Christmas Alphabet by Robert Sabuda. It's a pop-up book. It's an exciting night when we open that one under the tree and the kids get to snuggle up close to me while I show them how to gently open each door to reveal the beautiful, cute, clever, and fun pop-ups. My favorites are G is for Gift, which actually pops up into a little box with a liftable lid that has a kitty inside, and S for Snowflake, which is just plain stunning. I love Christmas books!

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