Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Celebrate Advent: 25 Legends and Ornaments

Author Judith Vicary Swisher has collected stories and legends from around the world that pertain to Advent and the Christmas season. Celebrate Advent: 25 Legends and Ornaments contains 25 of these legends and stories.

In addition to the Biblical account of the birth of Christ, there are stories from Holland, St. Lucia, Russia and many other places, some you’ve probably heard before, others may be new to you. For instance, I had heard of the legend of the poinsettia, but I had never read about the holy thorn.

Twenty-five punch-out ornaments are included in the back of the book. The author encourages readers to share the stories, one a day, starting on the first day of December, either reading them randomly or in chronological order, saving the last two stories for Christmas Eve (about Santa Claus) and Christmas Day (about Jesus’ birth). Each day, after you’ve read the story, you are told to punch out the corresponding ornament and hang it on your tree.

The illustrations by Nancy Middlebrook Baay are bright and expressive.

What I Like: I like having a book of Christmas and Advent stories from around the world. It’s good for kids, and adults, to learn about the customs of other cultures. I also like the ornaments included in the back of the book.

What I Dislike: Although this is a book about Advent, and Christ’s birth is mentioned in most of the stories, with the exception of the Biblical stories, the rest of the stories are not particularly “Christian” in nature. After all, the title defines the contents as “25 Legends,” which to me means that even the stories about Christ’s birth are meant to be “legends.”

However, one can look at the book as a whole more positively if you read what the illustrator says, “The more I focused on the visual images in each story the more I saw a common thread emerging: God using ordinary people, even plants, birds and animals, to announce the Coming of His Son. The underlying message of each story is clear: ‘Whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.’”

Overall Rating: Good.

Age Appeal: 4-8.

Publisher Info: Rogers Press, 2008; ISBN: 9780615217956; Hardcover, $21.00.

Buy now at Amazon.com $14.28!

Special Info: Read about the author and the illustrator at this website.

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Beth Reinke said...

I've seen these ornaments displayed on a little Christmas tree and it look pretty.

I think a K5 or first grade class would have fun reading a story each day and placing the ornament on the tree. The illustrations are beautiful, too.

Christine M. Irvin said...

Hi Beth, Thanks for your comments. We appreciate our readers taking the time to do so. Christine