Of all the myriad Christmas carols and anthems firmly imbedded in my brain by seven years of school choir and three years of singing for my supper with the college chapel choir, my favourite of favourites is Silent Night. There’s just something so perfect about it; each note placed just so perfectly, and the whole working together to create music that brings you out in goosepimples. At it’s best it should be sung by candlelight, unaccompanied, into the darkness; it sounds like it might just have been the music the angels sang that night.
I gave this version to Kitty in the run up to her second Christmas. I’m not usually a massive fan of books with music, or books that light up, mainly because I can’t bear it when their previously dulcet tones start to impersonate a dying swan as the batteries slowly, slowly, ever so slowly give up the ghost, but this is both. A little yellow button in a star plays a full verse of Silent Night, and the cut outs run all the way through the board pages to the final page where the newborn baby Jesus lies in his manger surrounded by the glow of a host of heavenly LEDs.
It’s sweet, and tuneful and has the very great merit that impending battery death just makes the song cut out. It’s one down side is the cost of the aforementioned batteries – I replaced them last year, at rather more than the original price of the book, but that’s what you do when a book is so well loved. It has sat on the shelf for a good part of this last year, covered with newer picture books and more summery stories, but as soon as I pulled it out at the beginning of advent Kitty had pulled it from my hands and lay out on the floor to push the music button and to turn the pages for an inquisitive Elma.
And she has fast become its newest fan. I suspect the lights and music have a good deal to do with that, but the illustrations are lovely too; a sketchy style that it very easy on the eye, without being overly cartoonish.
There are traditionally only three verses to Silent Night, but thanks to a little ingenious creativity, there are more than three pages. The new verses may not have the timeless magic of the old, but they don’t jar, and they do scan nicely to the tune.
I fear that the batteries are taking a bit of a pounding again this year, and there may be a few new chew marks along the edges, but they’re all definitely a sign of a very good Christmas book.
And now it’s over to you again. Even with a few last minute additions this week, I still don’t quite have enough Christmas books to read a new one for every day of advent, so if you’ve been reading anything that you love, please link up in the comments. And if you’re feeling a little stuck, and want a few ideas for a little something literary to go under the tree this year, you might like the What We’re Reading Booklist, featuring every book that anyone has ever suggested as part of What We’re Reading.