Review Blog

Oct 22 2014

The twelve days of Christmas by Alison Jay

cover image

Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781724761145
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Christmas. Carols. Folk tale. Presents. The beautiful Christmas carol 'The twelve days of Christmas' is told with the most marvelous of illustrations in this lovely production from Scholastic. The song is given on each page in a stylish font reminiscent of former times, starting from the simple, 'On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me'. Each time the page is turned a new present is given to the young woman from her love. For people new to the carol, this will be a delight and for those who know the song, this edition will add a new and quite lovely perspective.
The words are the same as always, but the illustrations add a new level of understanding and interest. In very Victorian clothing, the pair travels through the streets of their town, revealing the next line of the song. Off to the pet shop for the turtle doves, then the bakery for the calling birds, crossing the bridge we see the swans, at the farmhouse, the milking maids, at the house, the drummers. Each line adding a new present is given a new page of deft illustrations, rendered in an old fashioned style. The clothing and background are all most alluring, adding interest and delight. There is a myriad of detail to look out for and discuss as the pages are turned and children will love the anticipation of their own presents at this time. On its simplest level a counting book, the book offers so much more in its presentation of Christmas past. Children will love peering more closely at the details, looking at the way the pictures are presented with cracked paint, or the background of the town in its stylised form, looking for the previous presents hidden on the following pages, getting a kick out of the way this special day is celebrated, and the customs surrounding the event. It will be a definite discussion starter as well as a lovely book to read and share.
Fran Knight

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