Every mom knows the experience of having herÂ child unwrap a birthday or Christmas toy, only to find that the childÂ has more fun playing with the box it came in. Â It’s a near-universal experience, one thatÂ points to a certain truth: Kids need fewer toys than they think they do (or than we think they do).
It’s a tough truth to live by, though, especiallyÂ this time of yearÂ when ads and store windows try to convinceÂ our kids that theyÂ need more. Â That’s why a book like The Christmas Stick (written by Tim J. Myers, illustrated by Necdet Yilmaz) is such a welcome one.
In this colorful new picture book, a spoiled young prince receives a stick for Christmas. Â He’s not sure what to do with it at first — it gets ignored as he focuses on the other, flashierÂ toys — but then as the novelty of those toys begins to fade, he turns to the stick and finds that it’s a lot more fun than the others.
A stick can be a sword! Â It can be a lute! Â It can be a giant’s club! Â The book shows the prince letting his imagination rip as he explores all the possibilities of a simple stick. Â In the end, he also learns about kindness and giving in a lovely little twist in the plot. Â It’s Â an utterly charming book, with a message that we can’t get enough of this time of year. Â It just may inspire you to wrap up an old broom handle as a gift for your kids and see where their imaginationÂ goes.
A while back, my son and I thoroughly enjoyed the book Saint Francis and Brother Duck by Â Jay Stoeckl, OFS . Â This year, together we’re reading hisÂ new book Saint Nicholas and the Mouse of Myra. Â Like its predecessor, Saint NicholasÂ and the Mouse of Myra is a graphic novel about the spiritual journey of a saint. Â Like its predecessor, it also features an adorably-drawn animal sidekick to help convey the storyÂ of the saint in question. Â The mouse in this book is full of personality, cheeky and smart and frequently challenging Nicholas to explain his life choices Â in a way that allows for the saint’s beliefs toÂ unfold easily throughout the story.
The book moves along at a nice pace and is a very engaging and colorful introduction to the saint upon whom Santa Claus is based; Â I particularly like its message about generous giving to the poor. Â It’s a great read for kids eight and up (and for their parents, too — I’m learning a lot about Saint Nicholas that I didn’t know before).
Both The Christmas Stick and Â Saint Nicholas and the Mouse of MyraÂ were review copies courtesy of Paraclete Press, whichÂ publishesÂ all sorts of great spiritual books for kids and adults. Â Check them out — I promise you’ll find something you like.