Following one family's holiday travels, 17 Christmases puts a fresh, positive spin on all the busy activity that so often surrounds this season.
The family -- a mom, dad, 8-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter -- have 17 Christmas celebrations to attend. The book opens with them packing and wrapping and planning, then jumping in the car for their nationwide journey. In L.A. they toast lemonade instead of drinking hot chocolate. In Texas they take a Christmas Eve swim with seventy-two cousins! New York's Christmas is loud and busy, but full of diversity. They make stops in Colorado, Missouri, Ohio, and even Alaska! All told, they celebrate Jesus' birth in seventeen different states.
It's way past December when they finally return home. Even though the tree is dry and the fruitcake is moldy, they feel blessed and happy. As they turn in for the night, the son remembers their trip.
While visions of Christmases dance in my head.
I thank God for Jesus and family galore,
For seventeen Christmases -- never a chore."
Illustrated by Michele Noiset, the pages are filled with saturated colors and sweet characters. Each page highlights the geographical location with an artistic font while the pictures reveal unique characteristics of that place and Christmas there.
What I Like: After a while, all kids' Christmas books seem kind of the same. This one is clearly different. I like that it encourages a delightfully positive perspective on the busyness that often swallows up the joy of Christmas. It reminds kids and parents that we are blessed in all the activity rather than burdened by it. It focuses on family and not just activity. I really enjoyed it. My kids loved it! It's fun to see how different families celebrate Christmas in different parts of the country. I also really like the inclusion of a map on the inside covers. This makes for interactive, educational discussion with each read. "Where does Granny live again?" "This is where we live!"
What I Dislike: The course of travel is completely illogical. Yes, I realize this is a kids' book and it's meant to be funny, but as someone who does lots and lots of road trips, this really distracted me. No parent in their right mind would believe Washington state is a reasonable detour between Philadelphia and New York. Philly and NYC are only two hours apart, while Washington state may be a four- or five-day drive toward the opposite coast. Aside from this little geographical annoyance, though, the book is great.
Overall Rating: Very Good.
Age Appeal: 4-8
Publisher Info: ZonderKidz, 2010; ISBN: 0310715881; Hardback; 32 pages; $16.99
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Special Info: This book is clearly intended for families who live in or are from the United States. Please note that Hawaii is not pictured on the maps. It is the only state not shown; Washington, D.C. is also not visible.
Please visit the author's website or her book blog for more information about her and her other titles. You may also be interested in our reviews of other books by this author.