At Mass last Sunday, Miss Muffet was really excited about the pink candle being lit, so when it burned out inexplicably almost right away, she was really disappointed. And this burned out candle turned out to be a perfect metaphor for our week of reading. We fell four days behind on our Jesse tree, failed to read books I had specifically set aside for the feasts of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Lucia, and on one day, we didn't read any Christmas books at all. But we made up for it as the week went on, and we did read quite a few titles. Here are the highlights.
Once in Royal David's City by Kathleen Lines and Harold JonesLast weekend, we took the girls to a Living Nativity. Before we left the house, we read this book so that Miss Muffet would have some context for what she was about to see. It wound up being the perfect choice, as the language in the book was identical in many places to what was read at the Living Nativity. We will read this book again during the twelve days of Christmas.
The First Noel by Alice and Martin ProvensenThe day after the Living Nativity, we used flannel board pieces and stickers to retell the nativity story. To help Miss Muffet remember the story, we read this shorter version taken verbatim from the Bible.
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaolaI had never read this story before, so I didn't realize the connection to Our Lady of Guadalupe until I saw a post about it on Instagram after the children had gone to sleep for the night on Monday. We read it the next day instead. I wasn't sure Miss Muffet would follow the story, but it was told in such a straightforward and clear style that she did actually seem to absorb most of it, and she reacted with appropriate surprise to the miraculous ending.
Merry Christmas, Big Hungry Bear! by Audrey and Don WoodI checked this book out of the library because I had never seen it before, but I don't think we will ever borrow it again. The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear is such a great book precisely because the reader is not 100 percent certain there actually is a Big Hungry Bear. To have this sequel all but show us the bear just cheapens the entire concept. (The Woods should just not do sequels. Full Moon at the Napping House was also a big flop.) Unfortunately, Miss Muffet likes it and I have been asked to read it several times.
Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray and Barry RootI borrowed this as a potential story time title, but found that it was too wordy for my audience, so we just wound up reading it at home. It follows the story of Wilma, a farmer, and her neighbor, a boy named Parker, who works for five years toward the goal of selling Christmas trees. As Parker grows from five to ten years old, so do the trees, and the reader is able to understand in a child's terms just how much work and patience are required to make it possible for people to go out and cut down trees at Christmastime. I loved the story, and the pictures, and Miss Muffet was mesmerized by the entire book. I might actually like to own this one.
Hanna's Christmas by Melissa Peterson
Though I knew Tuesday was St. Lucia Day, I forgot we owned this book and didn't get to read it until this morning. Miss Muffet seemed a little worried about the tomten ("Why isn't he happy?") but she was interested in the idea of wearing a crown. She also has a friend named Lucia, so she liked making that real-life connection.
The Story of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaolaThanks again to Instagram, I learned that Las Posadas starts today, and I read this story to Miss Muffet this morning as well. I'm a little uncomfortable with the fact that this is a fabricated miracle involving Mary and Joseph, as I'm not sure how much fictionalizing we should do of saints who do occasionally appear to people, but the ending did strike a very nice emotional chord for me. Miss Muffet also understood right away what had happened, which was a nice surprise.
7 Quick Takes is hosted every week by This Ain't the Lyceum.