Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Not a Creature Is Stirring: The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood

It's just before Christmas and all through the land . . . 
What do we hear

Well, there are plenty of sounds to be heard everywhere--jolly songs about jingly bells and geese getting fat, soaring songs about ringing bells and heavenly hosts, the gabble and giggles of class parties,  the blare and boom of holiday parades, the oohs and ahhs and applause for lights suddenly shining on tall trees.

But what about Christmas quiet?




Deborah Underwood's newest, The Christmas Quiet Book (Houghton Mifflin, 2012) listens deep into the holiday time for those precious quiet moments that often pass without reflection but in themselves have so much meaning.

There's the quiet of looking out the window and wishing for a nice, slow snow day, the painful quiet in the audience when someone forgets his lines in the pageant, the muffled sound that knocking on doors with woolly mittens makes, the momentary awe when the town Christmas tree lights are first turned on, the shocked silence when  something blows and the tree goes dark, the quiet of reading by the fireside at night, and the hush and slush of ice skates on the smooth ice.

While parents might prefer Underwood's book to end with that last, late-night quiet on Christmas Eve, with the tree glowing and all the presents finally spread beneath it to wait for that early morning joy, kids will appreciate her final page showing the surprised quiet just before the whoops of fun as presents are opened and new toys discovered. Underwood's spare, poetic word choices in the text are well set off by artist Renata Liwska's subdued and soft-focus illustrations of little rabbit, bear, and mole children sharing the rare but wonderful quiet times of Christmas. There are plenty of noisy stories for the holiday season, but this book reminds us that there are always some quiet times to treasure as well.

Companion books by Deborah Underwood and Renata Liwska are The Quiet Book and The Loud Book!

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