Here we are, ten days into our Christmas book countdown. Today’s book is from the 40s, but I finally acquired this copy just last week! I have been searching for this book for over a year, purely based on a few illustrations I’ve seen circulating on the internet. I have to say that I am not disappointed. This is a beauty. A collection of Christmas stories, poems and songs in A Big Golden Book, take a peek at My Christmas Treasury with pictures by Lowell Hess, 1947.
First off, Big Golden Books are awesome! I find myself slowly accumulating them and even though their size seems cumbersome, I actually find them to be quite lovely to read. You do have to beware of the pages ripping when tiny hands turn them as they are not prone to grasp the concept of turning the whole page and not just grabbing a piece. But the large format makes for such lovely space for illustrations. I cannot find information on who exactly collected the stories, poems and songs for this treasury, but I assume it was an editor for Golden Books, or perhaps even the illustrator. I am however positive that this book was compiled for the soul purpose of giving Lowell Hess several pages to astound readers. His illustrations are delightful with their vibrant color, pudgy-faced characters, and nice layouts.
The contents of the treasury include 9 pieces altogether. Four long stories make up the bulk, with five poems and songs giving pauses in-between. Two pages of sheet music are even included which confused me a little as a couple of the other poems are also songs, but are set simply as poems. The long stories include humorous tales like “A Christmas for Bears” and “Christmas in the Country,” alongside traditional ones as well including the Nativity story. Then the last story is of course Clement C. Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas,” with Hess’ Santa rivaling all other illustrated versions in existence. That plump cheery fellow has stolen my toddler’s heart and is probably going to be the pinnacle of Santa imagery around here.
While I’m tempted to continue to wax poetic about my love of Lowell Hess’ illustrations, I also have to point out that I felt a little disoriented at his abrupt (yet appropriate) slight change in style with the religious carols and “The Christmas Story.” I understand the desire to give them reverence and I still like them (except for the halos around Joseph, Mary and the baby), but I don’t find them as enchanting as his more cheery illustrations. The other stories are just abounding in such vintage, adorable, knock-your-socks-off illustrations. The 40s were such a strong time for awesome illustrations.
I hope this glimpse at such a stunning Christmas story collection has cheered your holiday heart among all the preparations of the season. I leave you with a charming portion from one of the long stories, “Christmas in the Country” by Barbara Collyer & John R. Foley:
“Why I dare say over in the barn at this very moment even the animals are getting ready. Perhaps they’re having a tree of their own, and, of course, the hens would be making corn garlands for it, just as Betty made her cranberry chain.
And the pigs, well, they’d surely be seeing to the goodies for the next day’s feast… if they didn’t eat them all up themselves first.
And the cows might be wrapping presents. My, how handy their horns would be!
The little lambs, of course, would give the wool for Christmas stockings. Perhaps they’d even learn to knit themselves, since Christmas is a magic time when anything can happen.”
Hope the magic is continuing for you. See you tomorrow in our book adventure of 25 Days of Christmas Books 2014!