Yesterday, I linked one of my very first holiday book posts up to holiday book round-up at What Do We Do All Day. I realized a) that my holiday posts seem to very poorly tagged, which is bad for me remembering how to find the books to take home from the library again, let alone any readers and b) I’ve never reviewed this, which we bring out and love every year.
Counting to Christmas by Gillian Chapman. Illustrated by Peter Stevenson. (2001) This is an Advent calendar with 24 tiny board books, each with its place in the cardboard tray and a loop to hang it on the Christmas tree. When all the books are pulled out, a larger picture is revealed underneath. As you can see from the cover, all the books feature the same group of active little mice, every day doing something different to get ready for Christmas. They make their fruitcake, go caroling, write letters to Santa, wrap gifts, buy their holiday fruit, and pull crackers, among other things. As the books are 3 cm a side, the text is brief – often only a sentence or two per book. The illustrations, however, fill in the details to make each story funny. The sentence “While the cake is baking, the mice clean up” shows Papa mouse asleep by the wood-burning oven while the little mice pelt each other with flour and candied fruit. Singing “Silent Night” under a street lamp starts out reverently but devolves into a snowball fight, while “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” becomes raucous with the addition of more and louder electronic instruments. More than one year, I’ve used the little mice to keep my own holiday planning on schedule. It’s a British celebration of Christmas, though more by the British Christmas traditions than any potentially confusing vocabulary.
This is out of print, though I was able to find several reasonably priced copies on the Amazon Marketplace. I bought this for myself before I had children at all, but my children love it. My three-year-old will spend twenty minutes at a time looking at all the little books, and more than once a day at that. The eight-year-old boy is still charmed by the mice, and wants to hear only the books up the appropriate day – no reading ahead.