It's Day 6 of our 12 Days of Christmas Picture Books Series. Do you have your Christmas tree up yet? We've had ours up since Thanksgiving Weekend, which is I know crazy early for some people. But we LOVE the tree, love the holiday cheer it brings to the house on these long dark winter days. We not only put our tree up early, we leave it up until after the Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas holiday in early January. And I'm always sad to see the tree go, even when I'm ready to move on with the freshness of a new year.
Today's pick is a gorgeous effort by poet Nikki Grimes and illustrator Kadir Nelson, Under the Christmas Tree. This one is a bit unusual in that it isn't a story per se, but rather a collection of poems about the various aspects of the Christmas season. The subjects here are interesting, not your average fare, which makes them even more intriguing. I love the pieces that personify certain symbols of the Christmas tradition, like the poem that takes the point of view of the angel atop the tree ("She's happiest there / Poised for flight.").
Each poem comes vividly to life through Nelson's signature work, brilliant and bright and sentimental. It's really wonderful to see all these cozy scenes, peopled with brown-skinned characters, the visual representation of Grimes's jewel-like poems. The love and care of family, the spirit of the holiday season, the joy of giving, and the wonder of children are all here, and it's all perfectly captured in word and picture.
Perservere when you're looking for this one, as it's older and not easily available anymore, but definitely worth the hunt. This would be a great choice to share a bit at a time, as a family - there are 23 poems in this collection, so almost one per night of advent, though some are quite short. Of these pieces, some are simple, most are thought-provoking, all are lyrical, and just right for reading around the Christmas tree.
Under the Christmas Tree by Nikki Grimes, published by HarperCollins
Sample: Special Visitors: "One kissed my forehead / When he thought I was sleeping. / Yes! There are angels."