Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like . . It's Here!

Outside early this morning, it's like the whole world is holding its breath.  The dark and silence wrap around you like a comforting blanket.  You wait.  Anticipation is building.  (For some it's been mounting for months.)  

As the sky lightens, chickadees burst into song, flitting from branch to branch. For most days of the year, this is what these feathered friends do but today, Christmas Day 2018, their notes seem a bit higher and louder.  They know.  I Got the Christmas Spirit (Bloomsbury Children's Books, September 4, 2018) written by Connie Schofield-Morrison with illustrations by her husband, Frank Morrison, follows a little girl we met in I Got the Rhythm(I Got the Rhythm was selected by the State of Michigan for it's Ready To Read Michigan program 2018.)  In the new companion book, this little gal embraces all the elements of the season realizing something wonderful.

I woke up to the
spirit of the season.


As she and her mother walk through their community, she listens and hears the spirit in the ringing of bells.  It continues when she approaches the Santa making the sound and puts her carefully saved money in his red collection bucket.  Joining a group of carolers, she sings out the spirit.

Oh!  She's tasting it now as she munches on roasted nuts sold by a street vendor.  A gust of wind pushes the chill of the spirit down the sidewalk among shoppers.  As snow drifts down, the girl and her mother glide among other skaters sharing all the sensations of moving across ice.

As it grows darker, lights twinkle.  The sight of a mother and child, homeless, and asking for help, stirs something precious and essential within this child.  She moves with purpose and speed toward Santa.  Sitting on his lap she has a lot to say.

Quicker than you can say, Ho Ho Ho, with a smile on her face and determination in her step, holding a package she leads a group out of the store.  Where they go will spread a glow from the top of your head to the tip of your toes and from deep inside your heart to all those around you.  Later, as the girl and her mother meet her father, final words disclose a truth for everyone

every day of the year.

For eleven of the fifteen declarative sentences author Connie Schofield-Morrison follows with words we hear, say, taste, see, smell and believe.  This technique of call and response supplies us with a pleasing rhythm.  While she draws our attention to all the layers of the Christmas spirit through the experiences of the girl, she is building toward a larger idea.  This discovery, this reminder at the conclusion, is one to hold close to our hearts. Here is a single call and response.

I tasted the sweet
spirit crunch!


When you open the matching dust jacket and book case, you are in for two treats.  First, how can you resist smiling, at the very least, when looking at the front.  That girl, carrying a gift and marching through the snow, is wearing a truly infectious smile.  She IS the Christmas spirit.

To the left, on the back, she is walking in front of her parents with arms spread wide to welcome the spirit into her soul or as readers will discover to release it into the world.  I love the way the parents are leaning into each other as they walk behind her.  Even though it's snowing in both scenes, they radiate warmth.  In these first two images readers discover the exquisite details found in the work of Frank Morrison.  Colored lights are entwined around lamp posts.  Snowflakes are meticulously positioned at the top of each pole.  Footprints in the snow, light and shadow add depth to each painting.

The opening and closing endpapers are covered in a rich teal.  Beneath the text on the title page the girl and her mother, arms out at their sides, are skating.  Opposite the verso a snowy setting gives us a view of the building where the family (and others) lives.  Lights glow in all the windows.  A welcoming wreath hangs on the door.

Each double page illustration is painted with oil on canvas.  Each one is vibrant with color and literally alive on the paper.  You want to walk inside each visual and join in the sensory perceptions.  Frank Morrison shifts his perspective in each picture bringing us close to the girl or expanding the view to include other people and the buildings around them.  You get a realistic representation of the city which increases your involvement as a reader.

One of my many favorite illustrations is for the words

I sang the spirit from my heart.

Across the pages from left to right are ten carolers dressed in winter wear and wearing Santa hats.  Open songbooks in teal and red are held in front of them.  Behind them city buildings stretch toward the sky.  On the far left the girl's mother is singing and clapping her hands.  On the right, head lifted to the sky and mouth open in song, is the girl.  She and her mother are wearing puffer coats; her mom in red and she in purple with a white fur collar.  Snow is falling.  FA LA LA LA LA is placed on the songbooks.

There is an abundance of joy in I Got the Christmas Spirit written by Connie Schofield-Morrison with illustrations by her husband, Frank Morrison.  This girl's outlook with send your spirits soaring not only during this holiday but throughout the year.  This is a wonderful addition to your personal and professional Christmas collections.

To learn more about Connie Schofield-Morrison please visit her page at Painted Words.  You can discover more about Frank Morrison by following the link attached to his name to access his website and also at Painted Words.  I believe you will enjoy this post by Connie Schofield-Morrison at The Brown Bookshelf

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