Tafuri, Nancy. Counting to Christmas. Roxbury, CT: Duck Pond Press, 2005.
Yesterday, we brought out the Christmas decorations. We put up the incredibly tacky, blow-up “Santa Sleigh” Rocket in the front yard. We put up the tree and trimmed it with lights and ornaments. When the girls were little we might have stretched these maneuvers over several days as a count to Christmas.
One of my greatest pleasures at this time of year is to bring out my collection of Christmas books. Yesterday, I brought them out. How I love to look at each and every one. It makes me remember when I bought some of them and how much fun we had reading them together. At one time or another, they were a part of our count to Christmas.
This lovely book is a new pleasure for me and an excellent addition to my collection. It is a story of a little girl and her preparations for this holiday. She is counting to Christmas. I read on the book jacket that the author shared her family’s favorite holiday crafts and activities. I bought this book, because it reminded me of our Advent calendar activities. These were some of our favorite activities, too! We haven’t counted to Christmas in a number of years, but I still remember how much fund we had. As we did, the girl in this story makes Christmas cards with paper, paint and glue. She writes and sends letters to the people important in her life, including Santa. She mails her cards. We mailed ours, too, but we had a special ritual for the letters to Santa. We used to write letters and send them to Santa via smoke signals (we burned them in the fireplace).
What count to Christmas doesn’t include baking? She makes elaborate gingerbread cookies and lovingly decorates them. The author included a recipe here, if you are keen to try your hand at them. We liked making cookies, too. Our favorites to bake were, and still are, cowboy cookies, Russian tea cakes, double chocolate bourbon cookies, and giant ginger cookies. We used to bake cookies and give them to all of the girls’ teachers. We had a great time in the kitchen together.
The girl in this story makes animal treats for the wild things that live near her home. We did that too. We used to string popcorn with cranberries and hang them on the tree in our backyard. We made the pinecones with peanut butter and birdseed animal feeders. It was a messy fun project. Her snowy backyard is filled with many animals large and small like mice and birds and deer and bear. They all come to enjoy her treats. Here in this part of Texas, we don’t have snow. Even with no snow, we have enjoyed watching animals come to our backyard. We have deer and fox and rabbits and roadrunners.
Here is a charming book to add to your Christmas book collection. The illustrations are soft and warm. The child is a delight. It would be a comfy book to snuggle up and read. It might be a good addition to your count to Christmas.
Nancy Tafuri has the great fortune of doing what she loves, writing and illustrating books for children. Here are her words on this subject. “I feel honored to be creating literature for young children. The early years in a person’s life are so important, I can only hope that my books can contribute in some small way to that growth.”
Here are 8 facts about this author.
- She has always liked art. She convinced her Home Economics teacher to allow her to paint a mural instead of making a dress.
- She attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
- Her first job was as an assistant art director with Simon & Schuster. She went on to open a graphic design studio with her husband Tom.
- One of her favorite early books was The Little Engine That Could¹. She has something in common with out family, we love that book, too!
- Her illustrations were not accepted at first. They were considered “too graphic” for children of 5, 6, and 7 in the early 1970’s. ¹
- She lives in Connecticut. She writes and illustrates in a converted chicken shed, which over looks a duck pond.
- Perhaps her studio over looks the duck pond represented in her Caldecott Honor Book, Have You Seen My Duckling?
- She loves nature. She says that it is always auditioning for her.
For more information on Nancy Tafuri, check out these websites.