Back in 2005, my wife and I wanted to start a tradition of reading a Christmas book to our nieces and nephews. After a long search at the bookstore we settled upon Merry Christmas, Merry Crow, and it has been a joy to read every year since. Now that most of our nieces and nephews are a bit too old (and cool) to sit for a story, we read it to our own kids. In a holiday full of traditions, this is one of my favorites.
Merry Christmas, Merry Crow follows a very busy crow through an idyllic town at Christmastime. As he flits here and there he picks up all types of random objects—a bottle cap, a candy wrapper and a toy car to name a few. He passes through one happy holiday scene after another, sometimes observed but mostly flying under the radar. By the end of the book it is revealed that he was busy decorating a Christmas tree in the center of town, which is soon surrounded by carolers and a bevy of other birds, all partaking in the festivities.
The verse that leads you along this scavenger hunt is full of short and snappy rhymes. The illustrations are wonderful, full of fine details and hidden gems. That is one of the things my daughter enjoys most about this book, the treasure hunt feel to it. As each item is read off, she loves to find it. She also loves to find the crow on each page, which is not always so obvious the first few times through. Finally, she has taken to naming the other birds who join the party at the end of the book. Not like 'Fred' and 'Gloria' and such, but actually identifying the different species—cardinal, blue jay, titmouse etc. A pretty cool unforeseen benefit, and a definite tip of the cap to Jon Goodell and his detailed illustrations.
Merry Christmas, Merry Crow is a very welcome addition to our holiday bookshelf, and a treasured part of our Christmas traditions.
Title: Merry Christmas, Merry Crow
Author: Kathi Appelt
Illustrator: Jon Goodell
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2005)
Age group: Two and up
Best for kids who: love Christmas, birds, and scavenger hunts
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Merry Christmas, Merry Crow by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Jon Goodell
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(Image credits: Richard Popovic)