The Perfect Christmas

Well, The Great Thanksgiving Feast of 2014 has come and gone. I hope that yours was PERFECT. Lots of PERFECT turkey and carrots and sweet potatoes and pumpkin. Lots of PERFECT fun with your family and friends. Maybe a PERFECT game of tennis? or football? Full tummies and smiles on faces. PERFECT?

Well, as I said – that’s all come and gone. It’s history. It’s now time for —-

IMG_1850The Perfect Christmas
by Eileen Spinelli
illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi
published by Christy Ottaviano Books with Henry Holt and Co. in 2011

suitable for ALL ages!

Themes – Christmas, family, traditions

It begins –
Abigail Archer’s family
is perfect as can be.
They drive into the countryside
To chop down their Christmas tree.

Back around that PERFECT Thanksgiving time, I reviewed another book by Ms Spinelli titled The PERFECT Thanksgiving! You can check out that post by clicking on that title – right there! And guess what?! Ms Spinelli herself actually read my review! Wag my tail!!!! And she thought that I might ought to read the companion book – The Perfect Christmas! Of course I needed to do that very thing!! So she had her publisher send me my very own copy of The Perfect Christmas! Now isn’t that PERFECT?! What a nice lady, right?! I think that she deserves a standing ovation! I’m standing! How bout you?!

Well, ok, now, back to the book!

The Perfect Christmas brings us the same families that we met in The Perfect Thanksgiving. The Archer family is still Martha Stewart PERFECT. Candles on the mantel and bowls full of silver balls! The narrator’s family is still eclectically PERFECT with macaroni reindeer and dented fruitcake tins! Abigail’s family enjoys PERFECT Christmas treats and sweets – they even have a poodle that eats on a PERFECT Christmas mat! While the narrator’s Christmas cookies would “bounce to Mexico”

IMG_1852Each family has their own unique style and traditions. And each family has their own version of a PERFECT Christmas! This little book shows, in a big way, that what makes Christmas PERFECT is the love that is shared with family and friends. That’s what it’s all about! A PERFECT Christmas book to share!!

My family is very much like the narrator’s family. A bit crazy. But PERFECT in all the ways that matter to them – and me! It’s a BIG family and they like to party and have a good time. They always have a theme for their get-togethers. They dress up and have appropriate food and gifts. I just wag my tail and laugh. My favorite part is the cookie bake. I get to help with clean-up! I love being a janitor!

IMG_1833What kind of traditions does your family have? Do you have a “real” tree that smells like the woods? Or do you have one that comes out of a box? Do you have fancy decorations that all match like Martha Stewart? Or do you have homemade macaroni reindeer? Do you sing Christmas songs? Do you go to church? Maybe you don’t celebrate Christmas at all!

If you are inclined to make your own PERFECT Christmas Cookies, HERE is Martha Stewart’s recipe!

And HERE is a link to some fantastic ornaments that you can make with the kids!

Whatever and However you celebrate – I hope it’s PERFECT in every way!

Whatever you might be doing this time of year
I wish you GREAT JOY!

JOYYour JOYful friend
Copy of img311


My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me

maya angelouMs Maya Angelou died this week. A very sad time for the literary world and the world at large. Before this week I did not know much about this lovely lady. Most of her writings, I believe, are a little heavy for the kids who read to me. But I am a bit familiar with her. I have heard her enchanting voice on the radio and seen her face in magazines. And we do have one of her books on my bookshelf. A picture book that we like to take to school to share with my reading buddies.

IMG_0125My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me
by Maya Angelou
photographs by Margaret Courtney-Clarke
designed by Alexander Isley Design
published by Clarkson Potter in 1994

Themes – South African culture, traditions

Suitable for ages 3 and up

It begins ….
Hello Stranger-friend
I am Thandi, an Ndebele girl in South Africa.
I am eight years old, and my best friend is a chicken.

This is a fascinatingly unique book. It is filled with beautiful photographs of Ndebele women, children, and painted houses. It is also filled with the rhythmic words of Ms Angelou painting a picture of life in a South African village. A life quite alien to what my reading buddies are used to. Many of the kids in Glen Rose have chickens. And some even talk to their chickens like Thandi does. Thandi has a mischievous younger brother that she would like to give away. Many of my readers can sympathize with those feelings! But Thandi’s village life is quite a bit different from our small town life. For one thing, Thandi and her friends don’t wear much clothing! Mostly LOTS of beads. And they are quite proud of their beadwork. The women do all the beading and Thandi looks forward to one day being able to make her own beaded apron. The women also paint their houses in fantastic geometric patterns – using chicken feathers as brushes! These are traditions that will be passed down to Thandi and her girl friends.

IMG_0128Thandi says that Ndebele people do not call anything beautiful. They say that the best thing is GOOD. This is a very GOOD book full of joy and the music of hope.

When we read this book, we have Good discussions about different cultures and traditions and how traditions get handed down from one generation to the next. We talk about family traditions that the kids might have.

It would be fun, if you have thumbs, to try painting some pictures using the Painted Houses as a model – and paint them with feathers!

To learn more about the art of the Ndebele visit HERE.

Here are some instructions for GOOD beaded snowflake or star ornaments.

Have some fun and laugh and play like Thandi and her friends!

And try this little game!

Now you might want to venture over to the GOOD Ms Susanna Hill’s blog where she keeps a list of Perfect Picture Books.

I challenge you to go out and find your Rhythm
and Dance!
In memory of the GOOD Ms Maya Angelou
Your dancing friend
Copy of img311