Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Perfect Christmas

For many people, Christmas is a stressful time of year - a time when we should do a lot of things, and do them perfectly. But in Gary Bower's Perfect Christmas, we are reminded of the real reason Christmas is perfect:: Jesus.

Perfect Christmas focuses on a family who's struggling this Christmas. The tree is crooked and the star on the tree isn't working. The roof on the gingerbread house caves in. Dad hurts his back shoveling snow. The family's carols - with missing words - cause the neighborhood dogs to howl. The power goes out while the kids are watching their favorite Christmas show. (The electric bill didn't get paid.) The oldest child forgets his one line in the Christmas play.

But there are bright spots. Someone at the church gives the family cash to pay their bills. And while there is a hole in the eldest child's stocking, he's happy as long as the little kids get candy in theirs. But the brightest spot of all is Christ.

The books ends:

"Christmas is more than these [material things].
I'm convinced beyond doubt,
a perfect Christmas is about Jesus."

What I Like: Jan Bower's illustrations are stunning. Many look like photographs - but offer the rich storytelling of good picture book illustrations. Both my children commented on how much they liked them.
My kids and I also found ourselves chuckling as we read this book; we could relate to a lot of the troubles this family was having, including "someone" rearranging the nativity scene and gingerbread houses falling apart. And while there's a good amount of humor in this book, it also pulls at the heartstrings, as it's clear this family is struggling financially. Thankfully, we see generous people helping them - something I really appreciate. And, of course, who can argue with a Christmas book that reminds us repeatedly Jesus is the reason for the season - and he's all we need to make our Christmas perfect?

What I Dislike: The book is written in rhyme, and sometimes I found the writing a wee bit awkward. Overall, however, I think the text works.

Overall Rating: Very Good.

Age Appeal: About 5 to 8.

Publishing Info: Kregel; 2013; ISBN: 978-0825443329; hardback, 32 pgs., $11.15

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