A Magical Train Ride

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When I was a little girl, my Mom took me and my sister to a Teddy Bear Tea at the Ritz every year at Christmas. After everyone had eaten, it was tradition for the Polar Express to be read out loud. This story has always captivated my imagination. What would it be like to travel to the North Pole and visit Santa? This book, written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg ,won the 1986 Caldecott Medal, and it it is easy to see why. The whimsical writing and stunning illustrations take readers on a fantastical adventure, proving that holiday magic is everywhere, if we know where to look. This Christmas, perhaps we, too, will hear the soft jingle of a reindeer’s silver bell. 

The Grinch and Me

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So, I have a confession. I absolutely love the Grinch! Though the term has a derogatory connotation, I believe that this seemingly simple children’s story has a deceptively complex and profound message. Though the Grinch is mean throughout the story, he atones for his actions and earns the forgiveness of Whoville at the end. As a girl, I would often wonder why the Grinch was so mean. I was convinced that there was more to the story! I my favorite part of the book is that, despite everything, the Grinch still gets his happy ending. I find that so hopeful and especially appropriate at this time of year. As Seuss reminds us, “Welcome Christmas, come this way!” 

 

 

The Nutcracker

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When I was a little girl, my parents took me and my sister to the Nutcracker ballet every year. It was one of the highlights of the Christmas season. I have loved the story of the Nutcracker since before I can remember. When I was about five or six, all I wanted was a Nutcracker for Christmas and to be just like Clara. To my delight, I opened the most beautiful nutcracker on Christmas morning and I spent the next several days listening to the music and dancing the part of Clara all over our basement. Naturally, reading The Nutcracker by ETA Hoffman has become a Christmas tradition for me and my enjoyment of story has not abated, though I am no longer a little girl. I hope this story fills your holidays with as much magic as it has mine! 

 

 

 

 

 

A Ghostly Christmas Tale

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Perhaps one of the most iconic Christmas books ever written is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Its timeless characters and themes have become almost synonymous with the holidays. With its classic story and multiple adaptations, this book has something for everyone. I absolutely love reading this tale every Christmas (and debating with my family which movie version is the best)! The themes of forgiveness and redemption are especially poignant this time of year. It is an excellent reminder to be kind and compassionate to everyone, even the least among us. And on a lighter note, I absolutely love the scenes of victorian London! One of my favorite adaptations is Mickey’s Christmas Carol. My siblings and I watched the 1983 cartoon every year when we were little. I hope you and your family enjoy this tradition as much as we have! 

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Christmas Correspondence

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With less than a week before Christmas, I am sure that there is a deluge of letters to the North Pole bearing last-minute requests from children all over the world. As a girl, I would spend hours perfecting my own missives to the jolly elf. There is something thrilling about sending or receiving something in the post, which is why I have always loved The Jolly Christmas Postman. It is the sequel to The Jolly Postman, which recounts the adventures of a postman as he delivers letters to various fairy tale characters. In this yuletide companion, the postman rides again, this time delivering holiday wishes to his customers. I hope you enjoy this charming tale as much as I do and that the postman brings you something special this holiday season!

 

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A Visit from Saint Nicholas

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“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;” 

Clement C. Moore’s immortal words have defined Christmas for generations. One of my favorite Christmas memories is my father reading that story to me and my siblings year after year. Though it is not Christmas Eve, I thought this would be an excellent book to discuss today because tomorrow marks the feast of Saint Nicholas of Myra, the fourth century Bishop from whom the legend of Santa Claus originates. As a girl, I would set my shoes out every December 5th and eagerly anticipate what I would find in them the next morning. It has always been one of my favorite celebrations of the Christmas season. I hope you and your families treasure this story like I do and have a wonderful visit from Saint Nicholas! 

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Happy Birthday Louisa May Alcott!

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Today marks the birthday of one of my favorite authors, Louisa May Alcott. She is famous for introducing the world to the beloved March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Alcott’s focus on sisterhood, women’s issues and other themes, and her exploration of ordinary American life during the Civil War revolutionized the literary world. The courage and grace with which the sisters face life’s ups and downs continues to inspire readers today. The opening story arch of Little Women is one of my personal favorites. It is so appropriate for this time of year as it centers around how the March women celebrate Christmas without their father who is fighting in the Civil War. I hope you appreciate Alcott’s work as much as I do! 

 

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Beren and Lúthien

I have always loved J.R.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings trilogy. I can remember reading them with my father when I was a little girl. Tolkien’s mastery of the English language, his vivid story telling, and the magic of Middle Earth have captivated me my entire life. This is why I was thrilled to discover recently that one of his unpublished works would finally be available. Beren and Lúthien draws from material in the History of Middle Earth to tell the tale of the title characters. I look forward to delving into this latest installment of Middle Earth and I hope you enjoy it as well! Thanks to The Tolkien Society and The Wall Street Journal for the information! 

H/T The Tolkien Society 

“The earliest version of the tale of Beren and Lúthien was written in 1917, when Beren was an Elf not a Man and the equivalent of Sauron was a large evil cat.

The story underwent considerable revision throughout Tolkien’s life, and was reworked in both prose and poetry. The new book will demonstrate this evolution.” 

H/T The Wall Street Journal 

“In 1917, after returning from the Battle of the Somme, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a story inspired by his wife, Edith. Titled ‘Beren and Lúthien,’ it was a Middle-earth tale about a mortal man who falls in love with an immortal elf.

Though he never published it, the story was close to his heart. It formed the kernel of his book, ‘The Silmarillion.’ And years later, he had the characters’ names engraved on the gravestone he shared with his wife.

Next May, ‘Beren and Lúthien’ will be published, a century after it was written.” 

For these entire stories, please see The Tolkien Society and The Wall Street Journal 

C.S. Lewis and Turkish Delight

One of the most memorable moments of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia is when Edmund betrays his family for some Turkish Delight. This pivotal decision has stoked the curiosity of readers for generations. What is the allure of this treat? This article does an excellent job of shedding some light on this mystery. Thanks to JSTOR Daily and Cara Strickland for the information! 

 

H/T JSTOR Daily and Cara Strickland 

 

“The academic conversation surrounding Edmund’s Turkish delight, the eventual reason that he sells out his three siblings to the witch, focuses mainly on one question: With the entire world of food and confectionery open to him, why Turkish delight? (This question is especially important to people who have tracked down Turkish delight expressly because of Edmund.)”

 

For the entire story, please see JSTOR Daily and Cara Strickland