It’s the twelfth of December and my energy is waning. This holiday season goes so fast and so often furious! Thanks to books like this beautiful vintage gem for giving me a moment to slow down and just swoon. A lovely Golden Shape Book from 1966, I hunted for this one for months before securing a precious copy online. The clothes, the toys, the ornaments… every page is stunning in all its vintage glory. Take a peek at The Christmas Tree Book written and illustrated by Joe Kaufman in 1966.
If you aren’t familiar with Golden Shape Books, they are a treat to savor. According to The Little Golden Book Collector, they first started in 1964 and changed throughout the years in size and sturdiness. Official Golden Shape Books are labeled as such in some form and my definition of them would be small, mostly square paperback books in which all the pages are die-cut into a shape.
The text of this book always cracks me up in its simplicity, dated nature, and odd title. There is no story arc or climax to this little gem, just a simple explanation about things that happen around Christmas.
One would think with its specifc title that the book would expound and center around Christmas trees. It does start there, discussing evergreens being cut down and brought into town; but it swiftly moves to this gorgeous spread of the shops in their Christmas array! It is my favorite from the book.
The rest of the spreads include details like special ornaments for the tree, cookies that may or may not end up on the tree, children telling Santa what they would like under the tree, wrapping paper for gifts, and the final pages detail appropriate presents for boys, girls and Dad & Mom too!
So there is a bit of a theme to the flow of the book, with most items going on or under the tree, but what really makes this a beauty is the simplicity and charm of the 1960s illustrations. I’m sure many would revolt about the gender specific presents and even the unspecified but quite definitely pictured gender roles established around the events, but I find it all incredibly charming. And if you are concerned, be assured that in just a couple years, Kaufman would create a book that distinctly avoids such occupational gender stereotypes, Busy People and How They Do Their Work. But we are looking at a piece from the 60s and the clothes, items and family celebration are beautifully depicted!
There is virtually no info on the internet about Joe Kaufman, but I know from perusing and my own collection that he has a good list of nonfiction picture books under his belt. Although most are incredibly dated in technical information, they are still extremely informative, highly detailed in illustration and just plain fascinating to behold. Post-Apocalyptic Homeschool has some snaps from Joe Kaufman’s Big Book About How Things Work that show off a bit of his detail and extensiveness. (She also mentions that book stating Kaufman’s birth year as 1911 which is nice to know.)
I’m ever so thankful for sweet, unassuming books like this to help slow the pace of the holiday and allow me to revel in the beauty of the little things. I hope it gave you a smile too!
Follow along our book adventure at 25 Days of Christmas in 2013.