Monday, December 4, 2017

December Holiday Books 1 & 2

Tis the season! Here are 2 very different books to start your December. The first is a tale of waiting, the primary theme of Advent. Your audience will better appreciate live Christmas trees when they realize the time, risk and work that is involved in bringing a live tree into your home or church. 

The second book is unusual although I can’t imagine why. It is a picture book/song book hybrid, perfect for leading a small group in some familiar carols or for some bedtime singing with young children. Enjoy these Christmas treasures.

Picture Book: Christmas Farm
Author: Mary Lyn Ray
Illustrator: Barry Root
Summary: This story begins with a farmer, Wilma, making a decision to invest in a Christmas tree crop, rather than growing flowers. 
This is a risk and will be a lot of hard work and years before she reaps the fruits of her labors. 
She will need many things to make this change. She orders 62 dozen small trees.  
Then she asks her young neighbor, Parker, to help her. Parker is 5 years old, just like the trees that have been ordered. The work and waiting begins. 
They must mark the rows. 
The trees arrive and are planted. Parker asks if they'll be ready for Christmas.
Wilma explains that the trees must grow through many seasons. Over the many months of work, Parker tells the trees about Christmas. Wilma purchases a tractor which Parker loves. 
It becomes apparent that farming is a numbers game. Some of the trees are lost to animals and weather, but most survive and profits are still expected.
The story continues with Wilma working hard and learning how to keep the trees healthy, 
while Parker helps out when he can. Like the birds the trees attract, Parker enjoys the crop and thinks of their possibilities for Christmas. 
Problems arise, but most of the trees survive. 
The summer Parker and the trees are 9, the trees must be shaped. Wilma and Parker work hard together. 
As the harvest season approaches, Wilma purchases tags and together she and Parker prepare the shed for customers, hoping they will come. 
Once Christmas approaches, they do come! The work of selling and all that it entails begins. They must cut, carry, and sled the trees while making transactions. A family with a Christmas tree lot in the city, buy a truck load of trees. 
Wilma and Parker choose their own trees. Only 29 trees are left. Parker assures them that they will grow even taller for those families next year who want a huge tree. 
Wilma and Parker choose trees for their homes and like knowing that 563 trees are in their community all dressed with lights, tinsel, and ornaments. There balsam smell is delighting families in near and far places. Meanwhile, tiny sprouts from the first trees might become new trees.
Once Christmas is over, Wilma and Parker must plan for a new crop of trees. Wilma places an order for 83 dozen new trees to plant for spring and for new Christmases to come.
Hanna’s Comments: My summary above doesn't do justice to the amount of work and the numbers that are emphasized in this story. It is a tribute to farmers, who risk for the benefit of us all. This picture book is not just a story about work and waiting, but also a story of faith, hope, and love which are all themes of the season. In the back of this book you'll find more information about growing Christmas trees. 
Original Publisher & Date: HMH, 2013
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in God’s word I hope. (Psalm 130:5); A voice cries in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” (Isaiah 40:3); They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. (Isaiah 40:31)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children or adults and talk about preparing and waiting for Christmas. Reading this book before decorating your tree would be perfect!

Picture Book: The Carolers
Author & Illustrator: Georgia Guback 
Summary: In this picture book, there are musical scores and first verse lyrics for some of the most well-known Christmas carols:
O Come All Ye Faithful
O Little Town of Bethlehem
The First Noel
Away in a Manger
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
We Three Kings of Orient Are
Silent Night
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
What Child is This?
Joy to the World!
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
Images of carolers fill the pages as they sing for various homes and even live demonstrations of the Christmas story.
Hanna’s Comments: There are not many copies of this book on Amazon which is surprising to me. What better way to engage your children in singing favorite Christmas carols than with a picture book! I looked for similar publications, but had no luck so if you like this book, I suggest you get a copy now before the price is extreme. This picture book offers the opportunity to talk with your children about your relationships with these songs and how they have influenced your faith in and hopes for Christmas. After singing, share some stories from your childhood of caroling or hymn singing. 
Original Publisher & Date: Greenwillow Bks, 1992
Age & Grade Appropriateness: If an adult is leading the singing and limiting the number of carols sung, this book is appropriate for any-aged child.
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Sing to God. Sing praises to God. Tell of God’s wondrous works! (Psalm 105:2); Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly…singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)
Idea(s) for Application: Read then sing this book to children in a small group at church, a church school, or in your home. 

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