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The Twelve Days of Christmas

by Jane Ray

Published by Candlewick Press, 2011
32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5735-2

Ages 4-9

Podcast featuring this book

Jane Ray’s interpretation of the traditional holiday song playfully captures the romance and impossibility of it all. An opening page spread shows an inviting streetscape of artful row houses along a canal as snow gently falls and a delivery is being made to the red-haired woman living at number 4. It is, of course, a partridge in a pair tree. Each item from the song is showcased in a variety of imaginative scenarios featuring a multicultural cast. The children on the street play with the five gold rings (hoops) as the woman watches from her door, surrounded by the bevy of birds she’s already received. The nine ladies dancing sail by in a boat along the canal in flapper-inspired garments. The eleven pipers piping, representing a variety of cultures, surround the woman on her staircase. Through it all, the variety of expressions on the woman’s face (surprise, delight, dismay) are a treat. And then there is the young man who lives next door, seen peeking from his window, or sitting low in the prow of the dancing ladies’ boat: the woman’s true love, who shows up at her door with a rose on the final page. There is so much to notice on every page of Ray’s mixed media illustration in images that balance rich colors and details with a wonderful sense of warmth and whimsy. (MS) ©2011 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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