Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Movie

In the winter of 1914, Europe was deeply embroiled in World War I and soldiers hunkered in trenches along the front line. Enemy lines were separated by a narrow stretch of land referred to as "No Man's Land". Fighting had been vicious and brutal but on Christmas Eve the sounds of men celebrating the holiday with music and the familiar spirit of Christ united the men. The enemies fraternized and "No Man's Land" became a place for building friendship, worship and even an occasional football game.
This true and moving story is portrayed beautifully in the French movie "Joyeux Noel" made in 2005. My husband and I fell in love with the movie last Christmas season. We watched it again last night. I highly recommend it. It is a story of the true spirit of Christ and Christmas.

Add it to your Netflix list or look for it at your local video rental store, but definitely watch it this season. It is moving and beautiful. Be sure to the watch the director's interview in "Special Features" to find out more about this amazing event in our history.

You can read about this story in the picture book "Silent Night, Holy Night" illustrated by Robert T. Barrett and featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sandra Boynton

If you're a mom of toddlers/preschoolers/children and you're not already familiar with Sandra Boynton's adorable books, you are definitely missing out (and maybe not on our planet). My kids and I *LOVE* Sandra. Her illustrations are darling and her writing is poetic, ironic and funny.

My kids and I and even my husband especially enjoy her music. Her lyrics are hilarious and endearing and the music is great. The songs are performed by professional entertainers such as Kevin Bacon, Meryl Streep, Allison Kraus and Hootie and the Blowfish. We love to get up and boogie to "Philadelphia Chickens" and rock out to "Dog Train". You can find these and her latest book/CD at any local book store. And don't forget to check out Sandra Boynton's website.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Book Review: Room for a Little One

Our family loves books. I am not sure if a love for reading is one of those nature or nurture characteristics; it is probably a little of both. My dad loves to read. I never saw him without a book in his hand, books in his car, books at the breakfast table. Whether I inherited that quality, or just learned it by example, I am the same way. I read at least a book a week, and rarely go anywhere without a book shoved in my bag or car - just in case. I am afraid I have passed it along to my son, and my daughter might be doomed for the same destiny, it is too early to tell.

At nursery, my two-year-old son spends his time with the books. At home, he sits for hours reading his books, or being read to. He lugs them all over the house with him, and will ask just about anyone to read to him. When I took him to the children's museum in our town, I lost him for a second, only to look over and one of the workers was sitting with him, reading a book he had found. I was not at all surprised.

So those are my qualifications for writing book reviews: I love books. My kids love books. We rarely buy our children any other kind of present besides books. I am not an expert in children's literature, just a lover of words.

Book Review #1: Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Jason Cockcroft

We bought this book for my son's first Christmas. What a terrific find! We read it all year. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is so simple. It begins: "Kind ox lay in his stable."

Kind ox encounters several kinds of animals: a dog, a cat, a mouse. They are all invited into the stable, a place of love and devoid of fear. Each time, kind ox tells them: "Come inside, there is always room for a little one here." Finally, tired donkey comes. He carries Mary, and is led by Joseph. They are invited into the stable. And Mary has her baby with the animals all around. It ends, "That cold winter's night, beneath the star's light, a little one came for the world."

The poetic verses are beautiful and capture the spirit of Christ, and the spirit of Christmas. And, my son loves animals, making this book even more enticing.

I usually cry when I read this book. I usually finish with a resolve to be a little more welcoming, a little more loving. And I always love feeling the spirit of that stable, where Jesus was born. Like the birth of the Savior, this story is simple. It is beautiful, and it is poignant. Whether you are two, or thirty-two, you will love Room for a Little One.