25 Days – Book 5: The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love for books brings another marvelous Twelve Days of Christmas rendition. As I’ve never cared for the song, and I still don’t fully understand it, I love this book because of the illustrator, of course. Hilary Knight, the fabulous co-creator of the well-known Eloise, has given another new backdrop to that famous old song. This time it is about a bear, her true love and her immense creativity with all those gifts he bestows upon her. Become enamored with Hilary Knight’s The Twelve Days of Christmas, 1980.

Benjamin Bear has it bad for the lovely Bedelia and is a true gift giver that insists on continually showing his affection with an overwhelming amount of holiday items. Bedelia seems to be a kind and gracious girlfriend who takes it all in stride and uses her craftiness and creativity to turn the gifts into a special event for all their friends, and her beloved Benjamin as well.

Hilary Knight has packed this book with details galore. The main story is about Benjamin and Bedelia and the gift-giving extravaganza, but a careful observer will discover several smaller stories taking place from page to page as well. My favorite is a sneaky raccoon whom can be spied attempting to steal a green trashcan but is unable to open it. All of Knight’s animal characters are so expressive and charmingly anthropomorphized with their clothes, and jobs, and antics.

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This is a lovely version of that dreadful song, and puts a smile on my face every time I encounter it. I feel like I notice something new with each perusal. The climax is always entertaining with a spread that opens one more page and you feel the surprise right along with Benjamin at what his crafty beloved has created with his gifts.

I cannot help but be awed at Hilary Knight’s skill with watercolor and colored pencil. The effect is so smooth and colorful, yet subdued. I marvel at all the details he hides and expect he had a brilliant time creating each page. The closing endpapers are one of my favorites as they tell the story of his parents and his childhood home in Roslyn, New York. It is a lovely tribute to the creativity that inspired his career. “This book is dedicated to couples like Clayton and Katharine (Knight) and Benjamin and Bedelia who make life a little more interesting with their ingenuity.”

Here’s to your renewed ingenuity this holiday in whatever seasonal form it takes! Follow along our book adventure at 25 Days of Christmas in 2013.

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