This book caught my eye on a recent library quest. The artwork on the cover (and within, as I was to discover) is absolutely beautiful. I can’t quite put it into words– it looks almost otherworldly, with unique colors and design with almost a stained glass treatment.
Before I even checked out the book, I read it right there in the library. I simply couldn’t help myself. I’ve noted why below…
Written by: Eve Bunting
Illustrated by: David Diaz
Publisher: Harcourt Brace, October 2000
Suitable for: Kids 6 and up
Themes/Topics: Kindness, selflessness, personal sacrifice. Also homelessness, spiritual beliefs, miracles.
Opening Lines: Rather than type out the opening words, I thought it was necessary to show how the text is laid out within a unique beautiful design. This treatment is carried through on every page:
Synopsis (from Amazon description): Simon and his mom don’t have much–the cardboard house they built for themselves, a tiny Christmas tree, and a picture of an angel pinned to one wall. On Christmas Eve they take in a frail stranger who needs a place to keep warm, and the next morning Simon wakes early to find that the woman has vanished. Instead, he sees December, the angel from the picture, with her wings fanned out over their cardboard house. Could she be real?
Resources: There’s a great Teacher’s Guide to Eve Bunting’s books (though December is not in here). And here’s an interview with Eve Bunting, who is now 83 years old! Over and above that, this book would be amazing to read with the kids before the holidays… with plenty of discussion afterward about giving of oneself, sacrificing things that you might want for yourself for the good of someone else, staying positive and happy in the face of adversity, importance of family, etc.
Why I Like This Book: This duo ( Eve Bunting and David Diaz) has teamed up with other books (Going Home and Smoky Night)– neither of which I have read but now desperately want to. Between Ms. Bunting’s beautifully lyrical prose and Mr. Diaz’s incredible illustrations (that he hand-painted in a combination of arcylic, watercolor and gouache)… not to mention his own handcrafted font… I just have to read more by these two. I have now read this book about three times, and I can’t get enough of it. Sure, it’s moving with a wonderful holiday giving message. But it’s really a joy to read lovingly crafted words alongside such beautiful paintings. I absolutely adore this book– holiday season or not!
Speaking of the holidays, if you’re looking for a “perfect picture book” to give to a loved one, don’t miss author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page on her web site— I believe there are more than 700 books listed (as of this writing) and she updates it regularly with new entries. For Susanna’s own pick for today, visit this link.