Book of the Week: A Christmas Memory

buddyandsookOne of our yearly Christmas traditions is to read from Truman Capote’s book A Christmas Memory. Capote’s story has its roots in the author’s memories of his southern childhood. As the yuletide season approaches, we are given a glimpse into the world of Buddy and his elderly cousin, Sook and their dog, Queenie. Collecting pecans, purchasing whiskey from a local bootlegger, making fruitcakes, walking through the woods to select a Christmas tree, exchanging gifts, eating oranges, and flying kites together are the traditions the reader shares and experiences with Buddy,  Sook and Queenie. (1)




A Christmas Memory is available in several editions, but our family favorite is the edition published by The Modern Library. This edition includes three stories: A Christmas Memory, One Christmas and The Thanksgiving Visitor.

A Christmas Memory is also available as a children’s picture book with the text from Captoe’s novel and illustrations by Beth Peck.

Kathy Alphs

(1) Photo credit: File Photo




Book of the Week: Peter Spier’s Christmas

Of all of the Christmas picture books we have in our family library, Peter Spier’s Christmas is my absolute favorite. While perusing a children’s book list one day, I added this particular title to my library search list of Christmas themed picture books. Upon returning home from our day out at the public library, my preschooler dove into the pile of picture books. Finally, after inspecting the pile of books, she chose Peter Spier’s Christmas as her first selection.



What makes Peter Spier’s Christmas unique is that the picture book itself is wordless. In place of words, Spier chose to tell the story of one family’s Christmas through a series of pen, ink and watercolor illustrations.

At the beginning of the picture book we see the community preparing for the Christmas season. The family visits the department store Santa, they address Christmas cards together, a tree is selected from a city lot and decorated with glass ornaments, tinsel garland and paper angels. As the holiday draws closer, the children become more excited as the final preparations are made for Christmas. Grocery shopping, baking, giving to those in need, and attending Christmas eve service usher in the holiday. On Christmas morning, the family opens gifts, prepares and shares in a bountiful meal with other family members. After the holiday is passed, we see the family and the community cleaning up, storing decorations and participating the the after holiday day sale and returns.


My discovery of this one picture book by Peter Spier led us down the road to discover other delightful selections such as Rain, Oh, Were the Ever Happy! Circus! and People.
Sadly, this past year on April 27, Peter Spier passed away. To learn more about Peter Spier and his legacy, please click on the following link.

Kathy Alphs

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving


bowthanksgivingToday, I am going to share with you one of our daughter’s favorite Thanksgiving themed books from her childhood. Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving, tells the story of Sarah Hale, an author and publisher, who saw the celebration of Thanksgiving going by the wayside and decided to do something about it.

First and foremost, Sarah was a writer, a wordsmith. She is the author of one of childhood’s most beloved rhymes Mary Had a Little Lamb. Through the use of her literary talents, she wrote thousands of letters and magazine articles petitioning politicians and the public to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. After thirty-eight years of perseverance, Sarah finally saw her vision become reality. On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November to be set aside as “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” (1)

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving teaches us that if we are bold, brave and persevere, we can accomplish extraordinary feats for the benefit of mankind.

Kathy Alphs


Book of the Week: Thanksgiving Day at Our House

thanksgiving-day-at-our-houseDuring the preschool years, our family was introduced to the picture book series Jesse Bear by Nancy White Carlstrom. One day, while doing a library search for another Jesse Bear book, I came across the Thanksgiving themed book titled, Thanksgiving Day At Our House: Thanksgiving Poems for the Very Young. 

Thanksgiving Day At Our House: Thanksgiving Poems for the Very Young.  is a volume of poetry which celebrates the holiday established by President Abraham Lincoln on November 28, 1861. The reader will journey with the family featured in Who Said Boo? Halloween Poems for the Very Young as they celebrate the season of thanksgiving. The celebration begins with a First Thanksgiving pageant. Followed by Thanksgiving Day as the family gathers to together to celebrate. The celebration ends with a time of reflection as the family focuses on a prayer for others, graces, the quiet moment and good night prayer.

Illustrator R.W. Alley lends his talent to bring the child’s world of Thanksgiving to life.
Thanksgiving Day At Our House: Thanksgiving Poems for the Very Young is a delight for all of the young at heart.

Kathy Alphs


Book of the Week: Nine Witch Tales


bowninewitchtalesscholasticIn the autumn of my Third Grade year, I began scanning the school’s library shelves for a Halloween themed book. Our librarian, Mrs. Dickinson suggested Nine Witch Tales by Abby Kedabra.  After doing a quick perusal became my literary selection of the week.

Nine Witch Tales by Abby Kedabra a collection of witch themed tales. The titles in collection include:  The Witch’s Chant from Macbeth by William Shakespeare, The Horned Witches by Geoffrey Palmer and Noel Lloyd, The Huntsman and the Witch by The Brothers Grimm, The Cat Witch by Maria Leach, Baba Yaga, the Forest Witch by Arthur Ransome, The Bewitching Ointment by Geoffrey Palmer and Noel Lloyd, The Hungry Old Witch by Charles J. Finger, The Young Witch-Horse by Moritz Jagendorf, The Witch of Wandaland by Geoffrey Palmer and Noel Lloyd, The Hex and the Oxen by Moritz Jagendorf.

Looking back in retrospect, Nine Witch Tales by Abby Kedabra was the book which directed me to the writings of the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare. Since then, I have read all of Shakspeare’s plays and have passed my love of Shakespeare onto my child and students. It just goes to show, you will never know what can happen when you read a good book.

Kathy Alphs