Loss of a Parent
Written by Michelle Edwards, Illustrated By Stacey Schuett
It’s really hard to celebrate a holiday after a loved one has passed away. And this family of a dad and two children miss their mom terribly as Chanukah approaches. Dad wants to come to the rescue and make the special treats – potato latkes – with his kids, but the experience is just not the same.
How does the family come to understand the miracle and beauty of the holiday, despite the sadness? This story weaves a wonderful, sweet, sensitive Chanukah tale.
Suggested Reading Level – Ages 5 – 7
A family prepares to celebrate Chanukah for the first time since Mama died — in this heartfelt, bittersweet tale that will resonate with anyone who has ever faced an empty chair at the holiday table.
Three plates, Selma reminded herself. Just three plates this Chanukah.
For Selma and her little sister, Dora, this is their first Chanukah without Mama. When Papa comes home carrying a big bag of potatoes and all the ingredients for latkes, Selma is worried. Mama always made the Chanukah latkes. Could they make them without her? In Michelle Edwards's poignant story, illustrated with Stacey Schuett's warmly glowing artwork, Selma comes to realize that while Chanukah — and especially latkes — will never be the same without Mama, Selma can still celebrate, and will always remember.
Written by Angela Shelf Medearis, Illustrated by Daniel Minter
This is a wonderful folktale style story with glorious illustrations that seems to embody the very spirit of Kwanzaa. The tale starts with a father who has lost his wife and must take care of his seven sons all by himself. Although the sons have many blessings, it seems that all they can do is fight all day long. However, when their father passes away, he has left them with a test. If they turn seven spools of thread into gold in one day without fighting, they can have all that was his.
How will the boys accomplish this? And what will be discovered when they learn to work together instead of fighting all day long? Will they learn the seven principals of Kwanzaa during their struggle to turn thread into gold? And will they find a way to benefit everyone in their village instead of just their own personal needs? Pick up this beautifully illustrated book to discover how the boys solved this tough riddle and in the process, learned how to put the seven principles of Kwanzaa into action.
Without giving away more of the story, the book also mentions kente cloth and offers an easy-to-do hand weaving project (similar to those used in Africa) that is perfect for small hands or beginning crafters. I’m off to try making a kente style belt today!
This is a beautiful book for so many reasons! Perfect for any home school or classroom library!
In an African village live seven brothers who make life miserable with their constant fighting. When their father dies, he leaves an unusual will: by sundown, the brothers must make gold out of seven spools of thread or they will be turned out as beggars.
Written and Illustrated By Patricia Polacco
What is a Russian Orthodox Christmas like?
Author and Illustrator, Patricia Polacco weaves a story from her own childhood memories including delightful Christmas customs practiced in various parts of Russia such as giving some grain to father frost, baking wonderful treats, making beautiful paper stars and hiding a silver coin in a bowl of mush and the one who finds it gets exceptional good luck the next year! This book tells of the last Christmas she and her cousins spent with her dear and funny Volodya, knows to all as Vova. Along with all the other holiday activities, the children treasured the time that Uncle Vova would hitch up the sleigh and take everyone for a ride through the snow. When they finish their snowy adventure, he helped them decorate a beautiful tree outdoors filled with special things for the animals so “they can have Christmas, too”. Uncle Vova tells them quietly that he’d like them to do that after he’s gone.
As you can imagine, the next Christmas is not the same without Uncle Vova, but everyone tries keep their spirits up to honor his memory. Then they remember the special tree for the animals and go out to carry on the tradition. But – wait – there’s something special at the tree that seems like a Christmas miracle. Something wonderful has happened that reminds them how Uncle Vova’s spirit is still with them.
This is a beautiful book for experiencing diverse Christmas customs and for sharing the universality of marvelous miracles that can happen when the holiday spirit is afoot. It’s also a great book for discussing loved ones who are no longer with us and how to keep their memory alive in our hearts and through meaningful traditions.
Christmastime is special at Uncle Vova?s house. Laughing and singing, he dances, takes the children on a sleigh ride, and gathers them to trim the tree that he and Svetlana planted when they first came to America. But when Vova is gone, to the surprise of everyone, the miracle of his tree?and the memories? only grow.
Check back later please.
Written By Valerie Tripp. Illustrated by Jean-Paul Tibbles
It’s going to be a difficult Christmas for Josefina and her three sisters who live on a rancho (ranch) in rural New Mexico. Her mother passed away before the last Christmas and although her lovely Tia (Aunt) Dolores is there for them, all the girls wonder if the celebration will ever be happy again. And then there’s Niña – the doll that was supposed to be gifted to Josefina last year by her mom. No one knows where she is so it seems that one more happy memory will be gone for Josefina this year.
Despite all that, the family becomes busy with Christmas preparations and the book shares the beautiful Las Posadas tradition (see explanation below) as well as details of wonderful traditional foods and crafts (like “colcha” embroidery) that are part of this season’s activities. Will Josefina be able to play Mary in Las Posadas? Will Niña ever come back? Will Christmas be happy again? Check out this beautiful book to see how so many little Christmas miracles can help bring the happiness and wonder back to the season for Josefina.
Las Posadas – Originally a Spanish custom, this tradition of reenacting Joseph and Mary’s search for an inn (posada) before the birth of Jesus is celebrated in Mexico and also in the US Southwest, with slight variations.
Suggested Reading Level – Ages 8 and Up
Josefina hopes her family will have a happy Christmas, although she knows they will miss Mamá. When she and her sisters discover that the Christmas altar cloth Mamá embroidered has been damaged, they are heartbroken. But T'a Dolores finds a way to help the sisters' hearts begin to mend. As the villagers gather to celebrate the Christmas tradition called Las Posadas, Josefina finds that memories can bring comfort and courage. Christmas Eve is filled with surprises that make Josefina's heart sing.