In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Dear Annie,

What a hard week it's been for the whole Stuyvesant community -- and beyond.  I'm so sorry for all of you.    Gavin De Becker's book sounds both useful and thought-provoking.  I've ordered it for the store.  There's so much more to talk about on this topic: we'll come back to it in the new year.

Child's Play has been a busy place this past week.  All that drumbeat about the internet eclipsing real stores' sales seems to have been alarmism in our case.  From year to year, I forget how much one gets picked up by the wave of holiday shoppers: books disappear from shelves, hours fly by completely in conversation with readers and their parents.  The supply of Guinness World Records 2012 which we thought would carry us well into the new year is poised to sell out tomorrow.  Our fast reaction to Scholastic running out of their print run of The Invention of Hugo Cabret has led us to have copies on hand when even Amazon has sold out (take that, big guys!).  And the big sales of Hugo and Wonderstruck have made me happy that the hot books are also the good ones.  Books telling the story of the Nutcracker aren't selling as well as in previous years, but the Twelve Days of Christmas -- never a big hit in the past -- is bigger this year.

Last year, the first holiday season of our blog, we indulged in a festival of Hanukkah and Christmas books, here, here, here, here, here, and here.  Tonight I offer one joyful one, illustrated by the wonderful Julie Vivas, whom many of us know as the author of the board book I Went Walking.  Her
is exuberant, even when the characters are exhausted.   She uses the King James Bible words, and infuses them with a very human aura.  Her annunciation is probably my favorite interpretation, an illustration I wish I had for my wall:

Getting the news over a cup of coffee: perfect.  We have a series of three time-lapse drawings of Mary watching her belly grow.  And then --
which is tiring:
Curious shepherds show up, shooing away their sheep, and the wise men eventually arrive with camels.  The rejoicing combines the hosannah-ing biblical kind and the neighborhood-is-excited-because-you-have-a-new-baby kind.  Definite joy is here.

May you and your family have a joyous Christmas, Annie.  And I wish our followers much rejoicing, whatever your holiday.  We'll take a little break and be back in 2012.




  1. Hi, can i ask you something? I'm looking for children books with "scary" illustrations like wolf (or fox) eating pigs (or seven kids or Red Riding hood or birds in Chicken Little) or being pictured with a fat stomach. Have you seen any book of this sort? Any sort of help is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    Great blog, by the way!


  2. Wow, even the scanner-to-computer illustrations for Nativity look absolutely beautiful. I'll definitely try to find that when I'm home again post-holiday!

  3. @Nelly,

    Interesting question! I'll page through a few things around here and see if I can come up with anything.

  4. Great! Oh, and happy 2012 ;)