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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Together At Christmas, written by Eileen Spinelli and illusrated by Bin Lee. Albert Whitman and Company, Thomas Alllen & Son. 2012. $17.99 ages 2 and up

"One little mouse
in the bitter sleet,
slushy puddles at her feet.
Soon she gives a
happy clap.
She's found an upturned
mushroom cap.
It cradles her against
the storm..."

Eileen Spinelli has penned a gentle Christmas Eve poem about ten little mice. They begin their evening huddled together against the cold and snow. With good luck, each little one finds a place of warmth and comfort apart from the crowd.

I love the places where they find shelter: a broken branch, a strip of bark, a bird's feather, a clump of moss. They find protection from the elements and with each new home, the number diminishes from ten down to the last one who uses a mushroom cap to cover herself.

It's funny when they aren't nearly as content apart as they have been together. They are lonely and missing the company of the others:

"Though every mouse is snug alone
on feather bed, in nest, by stone -
somehow it  doesn't feel quite right
to be without one's friends this night."

That soon changes.

Bin Lee's radiant artwork sparkles with moonlight on every page. No matter where we look we can see it bathing the mice, their shelters and the landscape in beauty. It bounces off the ground, the tiny creatures and gives a kind of magic to each turn of the page. The darkness of the night is there in the background, but we never feel its ominous presence. When we finally see the mice in their various shelters, it is evident to all that they are much too distant from each other. They can fix that, and do!

What a lovely and uplifting bedtime story for Christmas Eve!

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