Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmastime by Alison Jay

When I first read Christmastime, I was quite taken in by the lovely illustrations because they reminded me of all the beautiful Christmas cards we used to get from relatives still living in England and Wales.  But when I got to the last page, I realized there was more to this book that just an early reader/picture book about Christmas.  In fact, it is an interactive book designed to familiarize kids with traditional symbols and treats of the Christmas season, to generate vocabulary building and to have fun trying to find the subtle clues and allusions to familiar Christmas songs.

But there is also a story line.  Two children creep down the stairs on Christmas Eve and and find themselves flying off to the North Pole in Santa's sleigh.  At the North Pole, they have Christmas dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, visit the workshop, see the elves and the lovely toys that they make.  But don't worry, the kids make it home in time for Christmas morning and presents.

I really liked this book.  It is a nice quiet story that encourages the reader to use his/her imagination to plump up the story.  I also like that each illustration had a traditional feel to them and that they didn't give a commercial/materialistic feel to Christmas.  Children get enough of that during the holiday season.

My only question was: would kids recognize the songs that the subtle clues and illusions refer to.  But after thinking about it, I realized that this could be just another interactive aspect of the book.  It could be fun to listen to the songs referred to and then try to recognize them later when they are playing somewhere - a sort of Name the Tune kind of game to play while shopping or doing other errands where there is Christmas music being piped in.

And finally, I really liked the technique Alison Jay used for the illustrations.  For Christmastime, she used a quick drying oil paint and then adds a coat crackle varnish to give it an aged look and her palate was soft colors in simple illustrations giving it a folk art feel - ideal for Christmas, I thought.

Can you guess what song is referred to in this illustration:

Christmastime is sure to become a holiday favorite with young children for years to come.

This book is recommended for readers age 2+
This book was received from the publisher

Ans: Santa Clause is Coming to Town

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