12 Days of Christmas Picture Books - An Angel Just Like Me
See this guy?
This is one of the new Santa pieces we bought this year. My husband found him at a department store in downtown Seattle, after driving two hours to take Sprout to see the only African American Santa we were able to locate anywhere in the vicinity. We felt it was important for him to understand Christmas as a holiday for everyone, not just people whose skin looks like most Santas. After all, a snowman has to be white, but a Santa? Not so much.
And that's the thesis behind Mary Hoffman's book An Angel Just Like Me, which is gorgeously illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu. In this moving story, Tyler asks his family why all the Christmas angels they have are "pink" and "look like girls". Tyler decides then and there to find an angel that looks just like him, with brown skin and curly hair. And he scours every store in his town for such an angel, even talking to Santa about it. Finally Tyler decides to get a star instead, because "a star's the same for everyone". But Tyler soon finds out that angels (and Santas) do come in all shapes and sizes, and that Christmas joy really is for everyone.
I am so grateful for authors like Hoffman, who tackle the tough questions and do it in such an approachable, even humorous way. And those pictures -- could the cover illustration be more alluring? Sprout nabbed this one off the kitchen table as I began writing this, poring over the pictures and exclaiming "Santa!" with pure joy.
If the people in your family come in different colors (like ours do!), chances are some little one is going to pose Tyler's question. And even if you all "match", your kids just might wonder why there isn't an angel or Santa that looks like their best friend. Adding some color to your holiday scheme doesn't have to mean lights and tinsel - think how much more interesting your mantel would look with a Santa just like ours!
UPDATE - No sooner had I added this blog post than the doorbell rang with a package from a wonderful friend of ours. Mary always sends our sweet Sprout the most amazing books, and this time there was something for Mom and Dad too - a gorgeous angel that, as you can see, matches our boy exactly. Now Sprout can point to the mantel and his very own "angel just like me"!