CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 21 . . . . June 23, 2000
"L is for lights. Christmas is often called a "festival of lights" because people decorate trees, homes, and churches with lights and candles. The custom of placing candles in windows started in Ireland. The candles were lit on Christmas Eve and burned until January 6th. People believed that the lighted candles helped Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus, find Bethlehem."Christmas traditions, primarily of the nineteenth century, are the focus of this Bobbie Kalman alphabet book. In a brief but elegantly informative way, each entry shares with the reader some of the history of Christmas traditions that many North Americans continue to celebrate. For example, the letter X's entry explains the origin of "Xmas", T's and U's entries describe the beginnings of toys under the tree with Queen Victoria's family, and O's entry details early Christmas tree ornaments like kugels, dresdens, and cornucopias.
The illustrations are Victorian in style and beautifully complement the accompanying text. Each entry has its letter uniquely illuminated with a small suggestive illustration. The larger illustration extends the viewer's understanding of the text.
The book has a table of contents, a glossary, and an index to help readers. While the book is only 32 pages long, the index clearly demonstrates the expanse of information contained in it and distinguishes between the chosen "alphabetical" topic and other covered topics.
For elementary teachers, this book would be an excellent starting point for an exploration of Christmas traditions. Insight into these traditions would be gained, and curiosity among students to find out more, sparked.
While the intended audience appears to be children, the style of both the illustrations and the text would make this book highly enjoyable for adult readers as well.
Gillian Martin Noonan is a teacher living in Old Perlican, NF.
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