A Treasury of Family Christmas Poems

Union Square Kids. Sept. 2022. 56p. ed. by Union Square Kids, ed. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781454943143.
Gr 3-6–This anthology of 12 poems, all more than a century old, celebrates the spirit of the Christmas season from a variety of perspectives. While all the verses are written with the formality typical of traditional poetry, selections vary in their appeal. A few of the poems present their morals in a way that might have felt pleasingly earnest in their day, but now come across as cloyingly didactic. In “A New-Fashioned Christmas,” for example, a young woman’s flippant dismissal of all things old-fashioned summons a passive-aggressive Santa Claus, empty-handed and dressed in modern clothing, threatening to cancel Christmas until she tearfully admits the error of her ways and begs forgiveness. The best entries synthesize dramatic language and evocative imagery to great effect. The resplendent “Christmas Snow” traces the path of snow on the wind, with “all the voices of the north” and “ice-fields darkly crashing.” In “On the Way,” Santa Claus himself narrates his worldwide mission with a psychedelic grandeur: “For your trust in all the fancies of the shadow and the gleam,/ I am starting on my journey down the highway of your dream.” Rounding out the collection is the widely known and loved “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” The pictures, assembled from various artists, come across as an afterthought; the book would have been better served by original work from a single illustrator.
VERDICT While uneven in tone, this collection contains enough compelling material to appeal to Christmas-loving families with an appreciation for poetry.

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