Where I live, there is only dream snow. One unusual winter day, when it did briefly snow, I counted forty-two snowmen, including ours. We Central Texans knew the “garish sun” would return by afternoon (it did), so best celebrate the dream snow while it lasted.
I discovered Dream Snow by Eric Carle at the library, laying out in the children’s section. Although I hadn’t heard of it, I knew immediately it was an Eric Carle because once you’ve seen one of his books, you can’t unsee his style of hand-painted collage. Carle has written and illustrated more than seventy children’s books, the best-known being The Very Hungry Caterpillar. He won the Children’s Literature Legacy Award in 2003.
Dream Snow opens on Christmas Eve, and there is no snow. I feel the farmer’s pain.
The first part of the book establishes that this farmer takes good care of his animals. He’s named them One, Two, Three, Four, and Five. He’s also named his tree, Tree. There’s not much the tree needs, but each day the farmer says, “Hello, Tree” to it anyway. I’m sure Tree noticed.
Late in the afternoon of Christmas Eve, the farmer takes a snooze and wakes to find “It had snowed while he napped,” covering him and his five animals with “a white blanket of gentle snow.”
Here’s where the story gets interesting. The farmer puts on coat, boots, hat, and gloves (all designated as “warm”) and suddenly, he looks like Santa Claus.
But he isn’t the Santa Claus. He’s a Santa Claus.
Once the farmer is dressed in Santa-like clothes, he becomes just like Old St. Nick. He carries wrapped boxes and slings a sack over his shoulder as he heads outside. He sets out a gift for each animal — labeled One, Two, Three, Four, and Five — and decorates Tree. The book’s last words are the farmer saying, “Merry Christmas to all!” just like that Jolly Old Elf.
Neither you nor I can be the Santa. That role is taken. But each of us can be a Santa, right where we live. We can start by doing something special for the non-human living things where we are. Is there a pet who needs a present? Is there a rock who needs us to sit on it and think? Is there a tree who needs brightly colored ornaments?
My most Santa-like moment that did not involve real people was on a December that didn’t feel at all Christmasy. It would have taken a lot more than snow on December 24 to make it all okay. I couldn’t bear to awaken my beloved ornaments from their boxed sleep, but there was still a child at home who was expecting a proper tree. We let her pick it out, and then we went to Dollar Tree and bought all new ornaments, all golden. That Tree was green and gold with lights as white as snow. The following year I could again bear to unwrap my old ornaments. Every year’s tree since has been a blend of old with gold.
The next Children’s Book Club will meet Friday, January 13. We will read the classic Curious George by H.A. Rey.
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“Megan Willome’s The Joy of Poetry is not a long book, but it took me longer to read than I expected, because I kept stopping to savor poems and passages, to make note of books mentioned, and to compare Willome’s journey into poetry to my own. The book is many things. An unpretentious, funny, and poignant memoir. A defense of poetry, a response to literature that has touched her life, and a manual on how to write poetry. It’s also the story of a daughter who loses her mother to cancer. The author links these things into a narrative much like that of a novel. I loved this book. As soon as I finished, I began reading it again.”
—David Lee Garrison, author of Playing Bach in the D. C. Metro