When our kids were small and we were building our Christmas book collection, the night on which we brought out the holiday books that had been in storage since the previous year was always a very special night.
With #1 Son, this was but a handful of books at first; but once we added Darling Daughter to the family, and St. Nicholas brought a Christmas book each year on St. Nicholas Day (Which is today! — Happy St. Nicholas Day!) we quickly accumulated quite a collection. First one very heavy plastic bin was lugged up from the basement, and then eventually another was needed as well. We piled/arranged leaning towers of books on an end table during the month of December, and every night at bedtime we read several. But that first night…that first night we often tried to read them all. This made for a very special night.
Most of our Christmas books are picture books. And the kids still love them at sixteen and almost twenty-two. Especially, I think, the pop-up books. When they casually shuffle through the collection over winter break, it’s the pop-up books that bring a smile and quick flip through. From the kitchen I’ll hear: “Hey, remember this one?”
We are big fans of Robert Sabuda. (Do look at his website — he has how-to pop-up projects for the masses with templates and clear directions.) We have several of his books, and most of his Christmas books. Somehow, despite the repeat readings over the years with two kids, these books have survived. I can remember saying, “Gentle fingers, please….” when we read them, and so they are, amazingly enough, in near perfect condition. So now I’m sharing them with another generation. (Not grandchildren! Young friends!)
Last week I read Sabuda’s The Christmas Alphabet to my Wee Ones Storytime folks. I’ve written about this book before for Red Reading Boots — you can read that here. But it worked its magic again this week, so I’m lifting it up again.
Our storytime had sort of settled into a comfortable chaos that morning — a one-year old rearranging the nativity story I was trying to tell, the babies jingling the jingle bells ad infinitum, and an almost two-year-old insisting I just get to the book reading already. Into all this energy, I brought The Christmas Alphabet, unsure, frankly, if we’d make it through.
I need not have given it a thought. As soon as I opened it, a hush fell over the group. Toddlers backed up to sit in their parents’ laps. The jingle bells quieted and then disappeared without comment from the babies. “Gentle fingers…” I said, and using one finger, I opened each of the “doors” to a simple Sabuda pop-up.
A is for Angel…
B is for Bell
C is for Candle
That’s all it is — A to Z. No plot. No jokes. No commentary. Just a whimsical pop-up for each letter. Certainly, Mr. Sabuda has other pop-up books that are more complicated, more awe-inspiring — but this simple book with plain “doors” sporting only a sans serif letter, behind which is a pretty simple pop-up in white…well, it’s unaccountably magical.
There are a couple of doors that when opened feature a pop-up that has a little color — these are somehow a delightful surprise when you come upon them. “Ooh!” said one little boy when we opened W is for Window and light pastel colors filled in the “stained glass” window of Mary and Baby Jesus.
So simple. Just exactly what we need during this sometimes busy season. Next year will be the 25thanniversary of the first printing of this book. I hope they publish it anew.