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The Twelve Days of Christmas Hardcover – October 13, 2011
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“Here’s a song whose lyrics everyone knows and that therefore demands something spectacular to distinguish it. This version, sumptuously illustrated by Long, certainly delivers.” — New York Times
“Ms. Long has secreted lyrical clues within each picture that children will relish hunting down.” — The Wall Street Journal
* “Long expertly weaves religious and secular images into a visually arresting interpretation of the traditional carol.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review
“An accomplished visual interpretation with a playful element for children to enjoy.” — Booklist
“This version has a dreamy, fairy-tale sensibility." — Kirkus
“Long’s lyrical and lush oil paintings, reminiscent of Russian icon art, combined with a tricky interactive element, make this version of the traditional carol special.” — School Library Journal
“This book is a beautiful introduction to the song for young children; an engaging book for older children; and a book that makes those already familiar with the traditional song more thoughtful.” — WNY Family Magazine
About the Author
Laurel Long (laurellong.com) is a professor of art at California University-Northridge and lives in La Verne, California, with her family.
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The next to last two pages contain the song, including the words and the music. The very last page contains a brief history of the song and delves into the various interpretations to the origin and the meaning of the song. There is an added surprise for the reader. Because this is a cumulative song, the reader is challenged to find all the previously mentioned gifts in each of the illustrations. Of course as you advance to the larger numbered days of Christmas, there is more to find in each picture. This can be a fun challenge. To help the reader find these objects there is a small tab at the bottom of the front dust jacket flap that reads, "Look on the underside of the jacket for a key to the hidden gifts." If you remove the dust jacket and look on the underside you will will see a small black and white reproduction of each page from the book. On these small page reproductions you will find red numbers corresponding to the various Christmas Day gifts showing you where they are found in each of the pictures in the book.
I originally bought this book to donate to my elementary school library but when I saw it, I just knew I had to have one for myself and several for gifts. I don't know where I have been, but this is my first exposure to the work of Laurel Long. I sure would love to purchase one of her paintings. You owe it to yourself just to see these marvelous illustrations once in your lifetime!
I have sung and read the Twelve Days of Christmas every day this week to my girls. They both love the book. Surprisingly, neither has asked why I am reading them a Christmas book right now. (it's the summer) Each double page, full-color illustration shows one of the days of Christmas. Then each following day has all the other previous items hidden beautifully within the drawing for that day. I haven’t even found them all because it’s cleverly done. I didn’t even know to look for them until after a few reads through because it all blends nicely. (hint: one goose has two turtle dove feathers) It adds fun to the book without taking away from how nice the pictures look.
One last note: the author says “Four Collie Birds” when I always thought “calling birds”… I believe you can find both versions if you look and that’s by no means a deal breaker for me. I am so glad to have gotten this book to add to my Christmas collection. Be sure to buy the hardcover copy, you will want to keep yours for years to come too.