Books to Hang on the Tree

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I was looking at these two books today, and it occurred to me that each of them is beautiful enough to be an ornament on the tree.  They might be a bit too heavy, especially if you have a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, but they are exquisite. If you want to give a book to someone that they will never tire of looking at, consider one (or both) of these:

Brother Sun, Sister Moon: Saint Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures reimagined by Katherine Paterson and illustrated by Pamela Dalton (I really am tempted to buy another copy of this book, cut out the pages and hang them all over my house. Named one of the New York Times Best Illustrated Books of 2011, this is a re-telling of St. Francis’s hymn celebrating nature.) 

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes (After looking at this book, you won’t look at the world quite the same way. Instead, you will begin to notice that there are spirals everywhere we look. Sidman and Krommes have created a book that urges the viewer to look closely at the world around them.)

Hanukkah and Christmas are perfect times to give books. They are easy to wrap, relatively inexpensive, and you can give someone an entire world to open.

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All the World

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Six third grade students taught me something today, and they could not have imagined what a special lesson it was for their teacher.

I was talking with them about this year’s Caldecott award winning books: The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, Red Sings from Treetops by Joyce Sidman and All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon.

After looking at The Lion and the Mouse and talking about the poems in Sidman’s book, I picked up All the World.  I began to explain that Scanlon’s was not a story in the traditional sense, that the book was more like a poem.  As I began to turn the pages, a few of the children began to read the book aloud.  A few pages later, all six voices were reading the words.  I wish I had a tape recorder.  It was absolutely the way this book was meant to be enjoyed.  I had needlessly worried that the story would not “grab” a group of third grade students, but it didn’t matter.  After I turned the final page, we all sat there for a moment.  I only wish Liz Scanlon could have heard her beautiful words recited like a prayer.

Why I Don’t Like to Choose Favorites…

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The modern cover of a classic book -
The modern cover of a classic book – I prefer the old one!

Truthfully, my favorite book changes all of the time.

I know that a person who loves reading as much as I do, should be able to hold tight to one book that stands above all others.  But it’s just too hard.

Like today, for example.  I saw this wonderful new poetry book titled Red Sings from the Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman.  It is so beautiful that I was afraid to put it down because I wanted to somehow “hold onto” all of that color and beauty.  So, that could really be a new favorite.  However, that doesn’t mean it will replace Charlotte’s Web or The Great Gatsby or The Book Thief or so many others that I consider favorites.

There is a shelf in my room that is just for my most treasured books.  If a friend were to look at them, they may have some questions.  Included is a book called The Trouble with Jenny’s Ear by Oliver Butterworth that I absolutely loved as a young girl, but re-reading it a few years ago made me squirm.

Written in 1960, it includes gems like this: “His sister laughed at him.  That’s just like you, Harold.  You were always forgetting us girls.  When you were a kid you used to go around trailing wires and buzzers and things, and all the boys would follow you around, but you never understand why girls weren’t interested in your doorbells and clock springs.   Uncle Harold rubbed his chin.  ‘I guess you’re right, Sis.  Probably that’s why I’m not married yet.  Do you suppose it’s too late? I’m almost twenty-eight.'”   So much for my early feminist education.

Less embarrassing, my shelf holds a special gift from my husband—a first edition of Charlotte’s Web, a book that is always on my top five list, no matter what the day has brought.  And a book of poems by the late Jane Kenyon.

The most recent addition to the collection is a book that I found while shelving at the Inly Library.  It was quite dated, and I put it aside to see if it was a book that should “retire” from service.  I opened it up, and saw that it had first been discarded from my hometown library, the Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library.

I stared at that book for the longest time thinking that somehow we might recognize one another.  At that point, I figured if it followed me that far, it deserved a place on my shelf.