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Friday, December 24, 2010

The Night Before Christmas in Africa by Jesse, Hannah, and Carroll Foster

Hi guys!
Welcome back for post three of the day here on Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers and a very iba nokisimusi omule!  What's that?  Oh, you don't speak any of the many African dialects, huh?  No worries!  I simply wished a "happy Christmas to you".  I bet you're wondering why on earth I'm speaking in foreign tongues now, am I right?  Ah young grasshopper, all will be revealed in fact within the next few paragraphs to be precise.

You see, I received a great little title in the mail yesterday that simply begged to be read and shared with all of you in a most expeditious fashion.  Why?  My my my, aren't we full of questions today!  No really, it's the story within the book that fit the day to a "t" so I thought...why not?  One short read later and the review was just asking to be typed, hence what you are reading now.  Today's second book of choice is....

Jesse, Hannah, and Carroll Foster
illustrated by
Jean Christodoulou

Twas the night before Christmas
and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even a mouse...

Infamous lines from a classic holiday tale heard the world over, but what of the night before Christmas in other countries and cultures?  I mean even if they do not celebrate the holiday in the same fashion as you or I, it still arrives to open arms much like Christmas in Who-ville.  The how and the why are undetermined but the when is always the same.  In this charming rendition, "Santa's" arrival though welcomed was not the most pertinent thing on this young family's mind.  They are in the midst of a dry season and while still preparing for the holidays, their greatest desire is not for presents under a tree but merely for life sustaining rain.  Can the holiday visitor with his kudu drawn cart deliver such an unfathomable Christmas wish?  Lalani kahle (sleep well) my dears, all will be seen by mornings light...

The surprising blend of cultures within the book is a welcome sight to this reader; after all, Christmas is a season shared by many and cherished in some way by all.  Whether your holiday traditions call for Santa Claus and elves, nativity scenes and guiding stars, or the lighting of candles on different nights, there is some aspect to the spirit of the season embodied by Father Christmas that is shared universally.  The lifting of worries and ending of tears.  The giving of love with an open heart to those in need.  The feelings of hope that spread through the crowd from a strangers glancing smile.  It's the time of year people come together and put their differences aside even just for a moment to share in the glad tidings....wouldn't it really be wonderful if that could happen every day of the year.

Following much the same formatting and rhyme as the original tale, this story is quite the charmer, but it is the illustrations that really bring things together.  The rich earthy tones and wide brush strokes commonly seen in native African artwork really bring the story to life and let you see things through another cultures eyes.  It truly is a work of art all around and one that I'm glad to have had the chance to experience first hand.  You might even learn a thing or two along the way considering the handful of African words and sayings strewn throughout the book...and who couldn't benefit from another way to wish your fellow man a happy Christmas day?

Review copy won via Twitter contest from Caitlin at Pelican Publishing Company.  (THANKS!)  For more information on this title as well as their full catalog, visit them online or follow along on Twitter

Until next time....happy holiday....and happy reading!


The1stdaughter said...

I love the entire premise for this title. It's always so neat to see how other cultures celebrate holidays we've come to know and love. Each way is so unique and sometimes helps you to bring something else to your own celebration. Wonderful review!

GMR said...

the1stdaughter: Exactly! It's another look into the window of human nature.

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