Monday, December 07, 2009

Review: Christmastime

My family has lots of traditions that we do (almost) every year in December. Sometimes things get busy and we miss one or two, although we try really hard to do them every year. But despite how busy we get in December there's always one book we make time for every year: Christmastime by Sandra Boynton.

I should probably start out by saying this book is old. In fact, it's a year old than I am. And it is out of print. But if you can get a hold of a copy, you will never ever look at Christmas the same way again.

For those who aren't familiar with Sandra Boynton, she's most famous these days for her board books and musical CD books like Dog Train and Philadelphia Chickens. You may also recognize her from Mom's Family Calendar. But she also wrote several books (like this one) on various subjects (one of them is about chocolate. I need that book!). You've probably seen her artwork somewhere before. She uses anthropomorphic pigs, cats, dogs, chickens, hippos, and in this case reindeer to portray her characters. In fact, the only "human" you'll find in this book anywhere is Santa Claus himself.

Christmastime doesn't really have a plot, so it's kind of hard to summarize. Instead it talks about every aspect of Christmastime, that whirlwind of activity that leads up to and includes Christmas. It covers such topics as Christmas trees, decorations, family Christmas cards, etc.

I guess the bottom line is that it's one of those books you have to read to understand. And trust me, it's definitely worth reading. It may be hard to find a copy (being out of print and all) but even if you just request it from the library you need to give it a try. Now, it was written in the 80s, so some things are a little dated (like the illustrations involving computers). But the majority of the book deals with things that are still very applicable to today's Christmas world.

As an example, let me give you a small quote from the section called "Selecting a Tree":
"Cut trees are sold 'by the foot'* and an average-height tree, at $4.00 a 'foot' costs 'an arm and a leg'.
*1 Christmas Tree Foot = 3 conventional inches

And that's not even my favorite part. Now, since it is a family tradition to read this book around Christmas, I tried to get help from my family with this post. I thought I'd share this conversation my brother and I had as a result of that:

Me (holding up book): You want to give me a mini-review to include with my post?
Brother: No. I really hate it when you make me write reviews.
Me: Well, I was thinking a one sentence mini-review.
Brother: It was witty. You can quote me on that. It's officially on record.
Me: You're going to be sorry you said that when you read the blog tomorrow.

Next up I asked Mom:

Me: So this is one of our family favorites and I wanted to put something in my post about why each person in our family likes this book. Anything to say?
Mom: Do I have to say it tonight?
Me: Uh... yeah, kind of. I'm trying to put the post up tonight.
Mom: Um, okay. Let me see the book again. (flips through the pages for a few minutes and then hands it back) The thing I like about this book is that it's hysterical.

And Dad... well, he couldn't really remember the book so he had no comment. (That's Dad for you!)

So there you go. A family favorite. But really that says more about my family's attitude towards my blogging activities than it does of the book. So despite the less than enthusiastic response you got from them, take my word that this is a book you need to read at least once. This review doesn't even begin to do this book justice.

Oh, wait. Mom wants to take a second go at the book:

Mom: I love that it pokes fun without being irreverent. You can pick it up for a few minutes, read a few pages, get a lot of laughs, and then put it back down. Only to pick it up another time and repeat.

Couldn't have said it better myself, Mom.

And now I leave you with just a tiny tidbit of what you'll find within these pages. It's the Boynton version of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas":

Wee fish ewe a mare egrets moose,
Wee fish ewe a mare egrets moose,
Wee fish ewe a mare egrets moose,
Panda hippo gnu deer!

Shady Glade Rating: 10/10!


Unknown said...

Huh, Sandra Boynton's name and the cover art seem both very familiar to me, but I did not recognize the titles that you mentioned.

Your interviews with your family on the book are quite funny! Thanks for sharing both this book and those conversations.

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

This one looks so much fun! My family watches Faye's 12 Days of Christmas every year which has William Wegman's dogs dressed up as Santa and licking the frosting off the cookies. I think this book is something we'll have to add to our traditions.

Wrighty said...

LOVE her books but never read this one. I plan to now! This was a perfect review and it's great that you included your family. That's what sold me on it! My kind of humor!