Full house!

The girl in charge came home last night -- very happy-making!  Both the sunny girl and I ran out to hug her before she had really even gotten both feet out of the car, and for a little while there, no one could move because we were all caught in a hug scrum.  It was fabulous -- lovingly claustrophobic or claustrophobically loving, I'm not sure which.  Either way I'm glad she's home!

She drove all the way from Atlanta by herself, which makes some readers yawn ho-hum, and causes other readers to remind me that I drove to Florida  to visit the beloved roommate's family a time or two myself, when I was not much older than the girl in charge. To all of which I say, pipe down!

She did break up the trip by staying overnight with these hipsters, who broke their promise that they would not knock themselves out for her, by making tacos for dinner, and by wooing her with their total awesome-osity.  In the morning before my girl arrived, dudes went out and bought themselves a house.  The day after she left, they got on a plane for the Christmas holiday.  Yet still -- welcoming and loving and awesome to my girl.  The heart just explodes, y'all.

This photo was swiped from Maggie's Facebook.

By the way, Maggie is the MVP of the family, and Mr. Maggie knows it.  The girl in charge reports that he distributed all kinds of tips for the future about married life.  Maggie and Mr. Maggie got hitched in June.

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So,  hey!  Books for Advent!


I read Louisa May Alcott's novels over and over and over when I was younger -- I was drawn to them in the same way I was drawn to the Little House books.  And like Laura Ingall's Wilder's stories, each of Alcott's books has a Christmas or winter adventure.  Several Christmases (some joyously happy, some bittersweet) are lovingly described in Little Women, Little Men, and Jo's Boys.  Polly and Fanny have very different ideas about how to celebrate the season in An Old-Fashioned Girl.  And in Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom, Alcott shows Christmas through the eyes of a little girl, and of that same girl as a young woman.

But the Alcott Christmas story I love the most is the one described in Jack and Jill.  In this novel, the catalyst for the book's story arc is a sledding accident that occurs in the first chapter.  When Jack's mother takes in gravely injured Jill and her mother, she transforms their lives by turning Jill's sickroom into a Christmas-y wonderland.  As Alcott describes the decorations, the treats and gifts, and the friendship of the two young companions, a modern reader is swept right into the scene.  It's lovely!


People, look how beautiful this book is!  The text of We Three Kings, illustrated by Gennady Spirin, is taken from the well-known carol about the three magi.  But the images are so lush and detailed and gorgeous!  This is the kind of book that makes you want to stroke the pages -- the jewel-like colors are printed on yummy thick paper. It's a work of art.  The carol's old-fashioned language is hypnotic, and even young listeners who might not understand everything they hear will be drawn into the exquisite intricacies of the images.


Winter Holiday, by Arthur Ransome,  is the fourth book in the beloved Swallows and Amazons series. Readers who know that series already get how great this snowy adventure story is.  The Walker children (the Swallows) and their friends the Blacketts (the Amazons) team up with Dick and Dorothea (the D's) when the lake freezes: obviously they can now head out for the North Pole!  But when the D's disappear, will the Swallows and Amazons be able to find them? Fabulous capers ensue!


In A Night the Stars Danced for Joy, Tim Jonke's illustrations are so creamy and dream-like -- they are a lovely accompaniment to the story by Bob Hartman about a shepherd family that follows a glowing star.  I do love picture books and storybooks like this one.  Even when the text is simple or familiar, a beautiful image or intricate detail can draw us in and trigger our imaginations.  This book is out of print, but I found it at my local used book seller (shout out to C&W Used Books).  I bet you can get it at your local library, too.