We have a pretty nice collection of Christmas and holiday books out in the house right now. I have a confession to make – I actually pack them up with the Christmas decorations so that we don’t find ourselves selecting them off the shelves in April or July or say, the week before Thanksgiving, for obvious reasons. We’ve been really slow to unpack any of those decorations this year, instead we prefer to look at our dining room decorated with unopened Rubbermaid containers. I don’t even see them anymore, I swear.
The girls did open their own bin of decorations the other night, and they pulled out all the books, and now they rest in a teetering pile on the couch in F’s room. The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden and Barbara Cooney was her pick for the last two nights. (Adrienne Adams was the original illustrator, but we have the newer version of the book.) It’s a lengthy story – maybe a forty-five minute read total – so it’s a little long for a bedtime book. But we allow book negotiations around here, so sometimes three short books are traded for one long one, or even half a long one. We put a “book pauser” in the middle of this one – right at the dramatic part where Peter is searching for the lost key and Ivy is so cold she’s s-s-tt-utterr-ing, and then we finished it up last night.
It’s a sweet story, and a simple one. A plucky little orphan girl, alone at Christmas time, looking for a warm house with a Christmas tree but no children, and a cast of toys that can talk when the shop closes down for the day. There just so happens to be such a house – one that’s quiet and a little sad and wishing for a reason to put some presents under the tree. There are funny words like “daft” – a word that Mr. Jones uses a bit too frequently (in my opinion) with Mrs. Jones – but we excuse it for a good story about wishes. The illustrations glow, and there’s lots of snow, and I always like a good holiday book full of snow.
This book would be perfect for little ones 4-8. The main characters are a girl and a doll, but I wouldn’t reserve it only for girl readers. It requires some sitting and some listening – and maybe even a two-night read – but it’s certainly worth it, and it deserves a place on any holiday library shelf (or Christmas bin).
Find these titles at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading!