The Twelve Days of Christmas
By Laurel Long
Prepare your family this Christmas for a jewel of a book and a feast for the eyes in Laurel Long’s luxurious, lavish and lush rendering of this well loved 1780 English carol which some say may even be French in origin. It is a sumptuous and even opulent picture book that will entertain for hours as together you begin poring over the utterly remarkable detail displayed on each page.
The carol itself may have begun as a sort of a Memory Game with its enumeration of increasingly extravagant gifts given by “my true love” on successive days and recited with increasing difficulty as the number of gifts lengthens!
In some traditions, The Twelve Days may begin either on Christmas or even December 26, called Boxing Day in Britain and extending to January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, where the Magi visited the Christ Child and with it, the marking by some of the end of the Christmas season.
Laurel Long’s gorgeous book takes the notion of the “I Spy” book to an entirely different level of beautiful paintings, bound by borders of beautiful and interesting complexity as your child, along with the adult reader, becomes engrossed in the “hunt” for each successive and increasingly numbered count of luxuriant gift.
My personal favorites were the “five gold rings” depicted in the surrounding of a tapestry attired angel at the tip top of an almost “della robbia” inspired tree with its stained glass effect, the pristine “six geese a–laying” amid richly parted curtains with a back drop of petal perfect rosy red poinsettia, “eleven pipers piping” are robed angels in a windswept, star filled night sky flanking a dramatic clock tower with Christmas tree set within and the final page is a masterful painting of the lovers of the carol a sea in a wooden boat, journeying to their castle destination with the gifts of The Twelve Days covering the surrounding landscape. It is breathtaking in its sheer attention to detail and eye catching color palette.
Christmas always brings forth its host of books designed for every taste, but if there is one that is revelatory and jaw dropping in the sheer beauty of its portrayal of an ancient carol, it is Laurel Long’s The Twelve Days of Christmas.
Pick a quiet moment over the holidays, sit in a comfy chair with a child and together page slowly through the richness of this book and enjoy its unfolding – together! This is a book not easily forgotten and a rare treasure of a Christmas picture book treat!
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