Kid Lit Dish

Kim's Magical Journey Into the World of Children's Picture Books

Perfect Picture Book Friday: December

on October 12, 2012

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.


6 responses to “Perfect Picture Book Friday: December

  1. Like the homeless theme. I’ve been looking for a PB on the subject. This sounds like a beautifully written and illustrated book. Thanks for sharing the pictures as it add to the story. Great choice.

  2. Laura Renauld says:

    Thank you for reminding me of this book. I’ve been trying to remember the title since I first read it, knowing it had a Christmas theme. Thank you, thank you! What a beautiful story.

  3. Darshana says:

    Sounds like a very moving story. Will definitely have to check this out. Thanks for the lovely review.

  4. A very moving story Kim, I will look for it in my library. Thanks for sharing.

  5. This looks amazing, Kim, and very poignant. I will definitely have to read it. It goes to show what I always say – there need to be picture books about the hard topics because there are always kids who need them, they just have to be written with sensitivity. Thank you so much for sharing this one. I’m really glad to be adding it to our list. I think it may be the first book we have that deals with homelessness.

  6. This is beautiful. I just pinned it to my Pinterest list of books to read! And the duo of Bunting & Diaz…awesome!

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