Pros: Good for adults and children alike; emphasizes holiday traditions
Cons: Some poems not up to par
The Bottom Line: This traditional-style Christmas poem book will be enjoyed by adults and children alike.
About a month ago the children's librarian at my job suggested to me a soon-to-be published book called A Child's Life at Christmas Time. She said the author was very local, and wondered if I might enjoy reviewing it. It took me a few weeks what with my recent move and current lack of internet access, but I finally managed to put my feelings about the book down on paper... er, keyboard. I want to note that I was very flattered that the librarian and the author approached me about this; it means a lot that my real-life peers and people I look up to are reading my reviews and remembering them.
The Holidays are just around the corner; a time that's special to everyone in all sorts of ways, for all sorts of reasons. Local (to me... Indiana) author Pamela Lawrence has composed a book about this time of year that takes a look at things from a child's perspective: A Child's Life at Christmas Time.
The book opens with a poem "Laugh Hope Plan Dream," giving us a sample of the poetry and subject matter to come. Following the introduction is a table of contents, dividing the pages into sections ("The Approach," "The Season," and "Winter Fun"), and when I first skimmed over the titles, I wondered what some of them would be like. "Paper Tree" piqued my curiosity, and while I wanted to flip forward to it, I held myself back, in case the poems were in order for a particular reason.
"The Approach" opens with the book's title poem, "A Child's Life at Christmas Time." It describes the excitement and warmth children are known to have during this special time of year, and the last verse in particular seemed to sum everything up: The excited chatter of children Give the home a joyous sound. They love their life at Christmas, And wish it could last year round.
Following are fifteen more poems, including one about the "clues" that can tell a child when winter is coming, one about the woes "mistletoe" can bring a child, as well as the curiosity that surrounds it. "Daddy, Why are There So Many Santas?" is a cute poem that explains why there are more than one Santa; there are lines and lines describing Santa's many beloved qualities, including his love for children, his generosity, and his jolliness. The ending verse tells the reader that anyone can be a Santa if they've "got his hearty way." One of my favorite poems in this section, it's actually a cute way to avoid the question when children ask the question. "Popcorn" and "The Taffy Pull" talk about homemade holiday traditions, each telling about the family fun that is enjoyed when during these activities. I finally got to "Paper Tree," which ended up being my favorite poem in the book. The poem opens with a father who is out of work telling his family that they won't be able to have a tree this year. The spirited mother scoffs, saying there will be no treeless Christmas, and whips up a paper-made tree. The poem goes on to talk about the fun the family has making decorations for the special tree, and how the memories will last forever.
"The Season" begins with "Dear God...", a cute little poem from a mischevious boy's point of view. The boy prays to God that Santa doesn't avoid his chimney, apologizing for his bad behavior, and makes for a cute poem. "The Stowaway" is a story from Bill Grey's point of view, and an admirable point of view he has as a stowaway in Santa's sleigh! This shorter section includes nine poems in all.
"Winter Fun" begins with a poem of the same title about children having their winter fun, playing in the snow. More fun follows in "The Biggest Hill," "The Snowman," and and eight other poems. One of my favorites in this section is "The Oh'd to Frozen Toes." This poem talks about different fun, wintery activities and ends every verse "but, oh my frozen toes." I liked this poem because it rings true; with winter comes many fun activities, but you can hardly escape the frozen toe syndrome! Another favorite in this section is the lyrical; "Rabbits on the Pond." The words weave together to create a busy, intriguing story about rabbits' moonlit dances.
Each page in this book is filled with the bright, colorful, childlike illustrations of Lori Compton. Compton does a fantastic job of making the holiday poetry come to life, making it appealing to read to children.
The book as a whole tells of many different stories and memories through the eyes of both children and adults about the joys of Christmas time. Pamela Lawrence has put together a fun book that families can enjoy together; parents will enjoy some of the poems that allow them to recall their own childhood memories, while children will enjoy the fun, playful poems. Families will be able to enjoy this book together during the holiday season and build memories of their own. There are enough colorful, poem-filled pages to enjoy this book through the whole season.
My only complaint is that some of the poems didn't have the quality that others proved the author was capable of. Some of the verses lacked the lyrical cadence that made me enjoy my favorite and aforementioned selections, and there were occasional lines with structures that may be problematic for younger readers. Overall, author Pamela Lawrence and illustrator Lori Compton have painted a perfect holiday portrait of poetry in A Child's Life at Christmas Time. This timeless book will warm families and create memories for years to come.
*A slightly different version of this review is also posted on Associated Content.
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