It's a fun way to build up to the Big Day and to ensure all of the Christmas books get read, and it's a nice kind of Advent "calendar" that doesn't involve candy or new stuff. After the kids go to bed on November, 30 C and I wrap up all the books (I saved our wrappings, pre-labeled with kid and day, from last year, so it went super fast and easy), making sure Hanukkah and The Night Before Christmas all fall on the right day. (Past posts on our Book Advent here and here).
This year, E put in a special request that Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas be the first book. (Those of you who are in the know will understand why, for those of you who are not, I think I just blew his cover). This is a super sweet book that many of you may recall was made into a made-for-TV movie by Jim Henson & co. (which is a rare case of a really wonderful story being made even better as a movie).
Written by Russell Hoban and illustrated in beautiful, soft colored pencil artwork by Lillian Hoban (the duo of Frances fame), Emmet Otter is kind of a "Gift of the Magi" story.
Emmet and his mother each want to give the other a wonderful Christmas, so they take a chance at winning the town talent contest, in the process selling an item important to the other's work and income. Things don't turn out as they planned, but they do turn out, with a sweet happy ending.
It's a Christmas story filled with themes of selflessness and the value of people over material items (though it doesn't hit you over the head with it) that doesn't have any religious overtones (other than it being, you know, Christmas).
The book was published in 1971 and appears to be out of print. I got an old library copy from Better World Books (they have one copy now for $4!).
I'd really like to needle felt a little Emmet Otter to put in E's stocking. Wouldn't that otter be adorable in wool?