Our Favorite Holiday Books

Today I want to share some of our family’s favorite holiday books. My kids are too old for them now, but when I bring them up from the basement every year, the three of them squeal or sigh and sit down to read.

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Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hymn

Let me begin by saying that I have read this book thousands of times, during the cold dark nights of the season and the bright warm nights of summer. My kids, especially my daughter, loved this book. The goblins are creepy and by the end downright scary, but Hershel cleverly outsmarts them again and again.

 

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Herbie’s Secret Santa written and illustrated by Petra Mathers

This is one of my all-time favorite picture books because it addresses a side of life that is so real and so rarely mentioned. Herbie makes an impulsive mistake. He feels bad about it, and he makes amends. Like the other books about Herbie and his dear friend Lottie, it’s authentic and quirky. Of course Vince is making Christmas pickles. Doesn’t everyone? To me this story feels deeply connected to the essence of the holiday.

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The Trees of the Dancing Goats written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco

I love this book because it acknowledges that people who celebrate Christmas and people who celebrate Hannukah live together as neighbors and friends (and even family members). When scarlet fever rages through their town, the central family celebrates their traditions and enables their sick friends to celebrate theirs. This is a deeply respectful and caring story.

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The Gift of Nothing written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell

This book has charming characters (Mooch and Earl from the comic strip Mutts), clever language play, and in the end gets to the heart of what’s really important about sharing “special days.” It’s just been adapted into a musical, which I hope to see despite being well over the recommended audience age of 4.

 

I hope that you enjoy your holiday (no matter what you celebrate) and get to share it with loved ones and books.

For more Poetry Friday vist Buffy Silverman at Buffy’s Blog.

Unseasonably Cold

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26°

Like a virus it crawls
along your skin
casting about for an easy
way in, like the holes
in your nose, which it finds
like a door you’ve oddly forgotten
and left unprotected.
It travels your length
on a highway of bones,
freezing your insides
down to your soul,
until all you can do
is shiver and moan
and retreat to the bed
you should never have left.

 

I’m heading to a soccer tournament today. Can you guess how I feel about the cold? I hope you’re keeping warm and don’t have 9 feet of snow outside your door.

For more Poetry Friday visit Becky Shillington at Tapestry of Words.

A Pumpkin’s Point of View

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A Pumpkin’s Plea

I sit on the stoop,
meditating and waiting.
I don’t know who I am
or which way I’m facing.

I hope you’ll come soon
with a sharp silver blade
to hacksaw my head
and muck out my brain.

I’m desperate for eyes
like sad gaping moons
or slightly tipped triangles
threatening doom.

I crave a bright smile
and maybe some teeth—
a couple that dangle
or a set to mince meat.

A nose might make sense,
centered and friendly,
though a smooth empty space
looks disturbing and deadly.

Come, bring your knife.
Don’t make me wait!
I’m scared that you’ll leave me
without any face.

Last year I wrote a poem about my strong desire not to carve my pumpkin. My pumpkin was so perfect, I couldn’t imagine changing it. This year as I sat down to write my annual Halloween poem, I wondered about my pumpkin’s point of view. I suddenly worried: what if my pumpkin had really wanted to be carved?!

© Elizabeth Steinglass, all rights reserved, 2014

Dyslexia Awareness Month

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Note to the Teacher

Dear Miss Sinclair,
I’m sorry
I made that loud farting noise
after you’d told me
to stop
three times already.
I’m sorry
I fell out of my chair
and everyone laughed
so hard
that Louis and Elijah
fell out of their chairs too.
I’m sorry
everyone stopped listening
to you
explain about our new
spelling words.
It’s just that I suck
at spelling
and I don’t understand why
an O makes
so many sounds.

 

This summer we realized that one of our kids has dyslexia. We just couldn’t understand why our bright boy was so stressed about school. Now we know. We didn’t realize he has dyslexia because he reads. That’s one of many common myths about dyslexia. Once we heard the news I started studying. I quickly realized our son had many common signs of dyslexia–shockingly poor spelling, a terrible time with handwriting, writing far below his abilities, and low self-esteem. If I’d known a little more, I could have saved our boy from years of feeling badly about himself. So today I want to share this poem, and I want to share this link to a list of a wide variety of symptoms. Please take a look. It’s worth knowing the signs.

For more Poetry Friday, visit Cathy at Merely Day by Day.

Crazy Days and Time for Class

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By Renato Ganoza from 郑州, 中国 (DSC_9655  Uploaded by Dcoetzee) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balloon

At first it’s nothing but a rag,
a worm uncurled along your hand,
but then you fill it with your breath—
it grows and grows, its skin pulled thin.

It swells with pride to be so loved,
it almost seems to glow and grin,
but then you give it one more blow—
too much for it to bear, it tears,

and then you have your rag again.

 

I’ve been crazy busy lately. That’s why I haven’t been writing and blogging as consistently. Given our family’s overwhelming situation, I felt I had two options. Option one: write less and don’t worry about. Honestly, I get kind of grumpy when I don’t write, so that option didn’t seem so good. Instead I went with option two: Sign up for a class! I know, in a way it makes no sense—I’m too busy so what I need is one more activity? But that’s not how I thought of it. What I thought was: I need some assignments and deadlines. Assignments and deadlines will keep me writing and growing. That’s how I found myself at Renee LaTulippe’s door, begging to be included in her Lyrical Language Lab. It’s only been two days, but boy am I impressed by her program, and so far my strategy’s worked. The poem above is my first poem for class. Can you guess what we’re studying?

For more Poetry Friday, visit Jama for some delicious and nutritious poetry and…hmmm…what else do you think she’ll be serving?

This image is from Wiki Commons. Here’s the link.