Posted tagged ‘Holiday Books’

A Christmas Classic

December 3, 2010

A Certain Small Shepherd written by Rebecca Caudill and illustrated by William Pène Du Bois is on my list of must-have Christmas books. Originally published in 1965, this story is timeless. The book is filled with lyrical language and is a holiday treat for the entire family. Themes of love, patience, and understanding flow through the story.

The setting takes place in a rural area from a time long past. A young boy, Jamie, who was born unable to speak, his father and two older sisters are the central characters. With his father’s encouragement, Jamie proves to be a quick learner, but others in the community have their doubts about his abilities as they listen to his incoherent grunts. Frustration, acted out in the form of tantrums, often overwhelms Jamie as he tries to communicate. When his teacher assigns him the part of a shepherd for the Christmas Eve play, she tells him and the other student actors to believe they are those characters; Jamie takes his role to heart. Unfortunately, a Christmas Eve snowstorm cancels the play and Jamie is inconsolable. Then two strangers show up at their door, and his father offers to help them find a place to stay.  As Jamie waits for his father to return home, he is overcome with the feeling that this night is not like any other. What happens next is a special Christmas miracle. Be prepared for some damp eyes as you finish the story.       

This book provides ample opportunities to discuss disabilities and acceptance of those who are different from us. A Certain Small Shepherd is certain to warm your heart in a big way!

Windy City Delights

November 30, 2010

Chicago is my kind of town! Each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve my family and I spend two days in Chicago, enjoying the sounds, sights, and tastes of the city. One of my all-time favorite spots to visit during this time is Marshall Field’s. Yes, I know it’s been renamed to Macy’s, but for me it will be forever known as Marshall Field and Company.

Our first stop was State Street so we could admire the awesome Christmas decorations in Field’s windows. This is a marvelous tradition that Marshall Field’s continues to create year after year. This year’s theme highlighted the book, Yes, Virginia: There is a Santa Claus by Chris Plehal and James Bernardin. The book is based on a letter sent by eight-year old Virginia O’Hanlon in 1897 to the editor of the “The New York Sun.” It’s a cute book, but I much prefer my edition of the book which contains Virginia’s letter sent to editor, Francis P. Church, and his answer. Included are memorable illustrations by Thomas Nast and some biographical information on Nast, Church, and Virginia. It’s a story that touches my heart.

Our next stop was the Walnut Room on the seventh floor of Marshall Field’s with its dazzling Great Tree. If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Walnut Room, you must go for lunch during the Christmas season when it becomes a truly magical place. My mother took me there when I was young, and my husband and I took our daughter there when she was young. Our visit this time didn’t include lunch, but we did enjoy the view of the tree. It was fun to see all the families dressed in their “Sunday best” and on their best behavior. It brought back warm memories.

Before we left Marshall Field’s, we purchased a State Street Clock ornament made exclusively for Field’s.

Afterward, we stepped back outside onto the streets of the Windy City eager to make more memories. Yup, Chicago is my kind of town!

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