Caldecott Award winner Chris Van Allsburg is one of my all-time favorites! The Polar Express is an old-fashioned steam train that takes children to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to meet the red-suited gentleman and to see him off on his annual sleigh ride. Many people have seen the movie, which wasn't just a little different than the book, it was a total destruction, in my opinion. The movie, while an energizing, adventurous story with amazing CGI effects, focuses on the train ride and many funny things that happen at the North Pole, which are not even events in the original story. The book is soft and dreamy, especially when listening to the audio book performed by William Hurt, which I love. The story is told from an adult perspective, describing the boy's adventure as a child.These scenes from a memory of long ago are a dreamy reconstruction of a significant experience, a remembrance rebuilt to fulfill the narrator's current wish: if only you believe, you too will hear the ringing of the silver bell that Santa gave the storyteller and taste rich hot chocolate in your ride through the wolf-infested forests of reality. There are many more wonderful Christmas picture books that I own and will share with you throughout the coming weeks.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Favorite Christmas Stories
I am a big reader, and Christmas is my favorite holiday, so of course I have many illustrated Christmas books that I love to pull out every year! I have several that I read with my students each year and we discuss the message in the book. Even though they are cool sixth graders, they still love a little story time once in a while! I give Christmas books to all of my friends' children, and hope they will spend some quiet time during this hectic season reading as a family. I will have several posts about the books I really like. Today I'm going to share my three ultimate favorites.I love author Gloria Houston & illustrator Barbara Cooney! They have teamed together on several children's books, one of which is The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree. That's the book you can see me reading to my niece and nephews on Christmas Eve 2002. Beautifully touching and based on actual events in the history of Gloria Houston's family, it is the story of Ruthie living in Appalachia during WWI.It is her family's turn to provide the town Christmas tree, but with Papa away in the army and money being very tight, the pastor does not think Ruthie and Mama can manage the tree.Ruthie will be the Heavenly Angel in the pageant when her family provides the tree, so this is extra important to her. The tree has already been tagged high in the hills by Papa and Ruthie, they just have to go get it, which the community feels is too difficult for a woman and child. Mysteriously, the tree appears overnight at the door of the church.Gloriously detailed illustrations show the preparations for Christmas around the town., as well as Mama and Ruthie's vigils waiting at the train station for Papa to return once the war has been declared over.Another great book is Santa Callsby William Joyce. I love the dry wit in the story, which kids don't really pick up on. The illustrations are so original, with a retro feel, and great shadows.Santa Calls is the story of Art Atchinson Aimesworth, his friend Spaulding Littlefeet, his little sister Esther, and their adventurous visit to Santa at the North Pole. Santa calls them by sending a hot air balloons for them to assemble, with the message, "Come NORTH!" The trio does as directed, but are attacked by the Dark Queen and her Evil Elves on their way to The Great Hall of Santa in Toyland. After a safe arrival, they have milk and cookies and meet Santa! During a balloon ride, Esther is kidnapped by the Dark Queen! Art and Spaulding prove themselves heroes and Esther shows how smart she is during the rescue!At the end of the story, Santa's true reason for calling them to the North Pole is revealed to the readers, but not to Art! It's a fun adventure story that tries to teach children to appreciate their siblings.
at 7:52 AM