Tuesday, December 5, 2006
The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas
My favorite parts of Madeleine L'Engle's books have always been the house and land descriptions; those vast kitchens with fireplaces, the stone walls, the bedrooms. Once the children were off having adventures, I found my interest waning. What makes this book such a favorite of mine is that just about the whole story takes place at home. I love such sentences as:
"Our kitchen is a big wandery room that turns corners and has unexpected nooks and crannies. In the dining room section in the winter the fire crackles merrily."
"At night the spruce shone so brightly that it could be seen all the way from the main road at the bottom of the hill."
"Over the kitchen counter is a cubby hole with two shelves."
The main character in the book is a girl of seven, who is to be an angel in the Christmas pageant. She feels that she is the "ugly duckling", skinny with legs so long she keeps falling. She overhears the [mean!] pageant director speak of her as "awkward and ungraceful". When she tells her parents, they come up with a solution, rather than just saying that isn't true and she is really fine. They have her practice, in the age-old way, walking with a book on her head. It of course works to add grace and composure to her role as an angel.
This is such a wonderful story of a close and loving family; very soothing and reassuring for little ones, hopefully snuggled with their own parents, listening to these lovely words.