Thursday, November 06, 2008

Holiday tales from Positive Spin Press

When I was little, it was the stories that made the holidays real for me. I had one treasury of Christmas stories that told of Baboushka, an elderly woman who roams the earth every December 24th, leaving a toy on the bed of each child in her search for the Christ child. It became all the more magical when I would awake on Christmas morning to a small gift at the foot of my bed. My very own toy from Baboushka.

One of the things I look forward to when it comes to sharing the holidays with my own children is finding the stories that will come to shape their own memories of the days throughout the year that give us something speical and collective to anticipate. The Parent Bloggers Network facilitated the delivery of three such stories to my door when I agreed to review the holiday books from Positive Spin Press.

Created around a toy-making fairy named Eve, the books are titled All Hallow's Eve: The Story of the Halloween Fairy; Christmas Eve: The Joy of Giving; and Winter's Eve: Love and Lights. The latter is a compilation of seven winter traditions from around the globe, including Hannukah, Kwanzaa, and Diwali.

I could tell from the way The Boss's eyes darted back and forth over the pages in a continuous assessment that she found a lot to like in the illustrations. A patch of gape-mouthed Jack-o-Lanterns and a scene of costumed fairies at a party were two of her favorites in All Hallow's Eve. In Winter's Eve, the pictures opened her eyes to cultural traditions she had never seen--some of which were not familiar to me, either.

The rhyming text was fun to read and pleasing to The Boss's ear, though at some points I had to struggle a bit to find the right cadence.

My favorite of the series is Christmas Eve, which brought me back to my own childhood. The book did not shy away from the religious meaning behind the holiday, which has become a novelty in today's secularized marketplace. The story of baby Jesus is swaddled up inside the main plot, which involves the elves becoming polka-dotted with Elfpox, requiring Santa and Nana Claus to seek out Eve's help.

I'd recommend these books because they encourage excitement and discovery around the holidays. Each one has a message. All Hallow's Eve is an introduction to Halloween and a reinforcement that it is about sharing, not just guzzling sweets. Christmas Eve bridges the stories of Santa and the nativity and tells readers that love and appreciation are gifts, too; and Winter's Eve endeavors to expand children's knowledge of cold-weather celebrations the world over.

If only there was a Thanksgiving tale included in the Positive Spin library. Despite all the Christmas carols already blaring from the speakers at retail stores everywhere I go, I'd welcome the chance to slow down between Halloween and Christmas to talk some turkey as part of my daughter's bedtime book ritual. I know that New Year's Eve is coming out in 2010--we'll have to wait to see how the husband and wife team of Lisa and Tucker Johnson approach all the other holiday plot potential offered throughout the year.