It's Day 7 of our 12 Days of Christmas Picture Books Series. If you've missed any of the titles so far, click the "12 Days of Christmas Picture Books" tab above, which will take you to titles from this year and last year as well -- or you can check out our Christmas Favorites board on Pinterest for the whole list plus some other great finds!
Today's title is unfortunately another book that's older and out of print. Honestly I didn't set out to bring you so many great but hard-to-find reads. But the nature of publishing is a transitory one, and sadly many excellent multicultural titles just don't stay in print that long. (Another reason, I would argue, that we must vote with our dollars and purchase the wonderful titles by and about people of color as we find them.) So today's pick needs to go on your list for the library or maybe a used book hunt, all right?
And the book in question is Lucille Clifton's Everett Anderson's Christmas Coming. First off we were attracted to this title because it was illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist, who also illustrated one of our favorites from last year, Waiting for Christmas. Gilchrist comes through again with soulful, heartfelt pictures of Everett Anderson, a young African American boy who lives in a large housing complex in the city. I love how Gilchrist captures the urban landscape and imbues it with homey details, just right for the Christmas holiday.
But besides being fun to look at, Everett Anderson is a delightful read as well. This isn't the first title featuring this character -- Clifton has a whole series of Everett Anderson books that are well worth checking out -- but it's a good place to pick up the thread. Clifton structures the book as a countdown from December 20 to 25. Each day Everett has something else special to focus on, building his anticipation as the holiday nears. And when the big day comes, Everett and his family celebrate joyously.
This is a very nuanced portrayal of the complex feelings that can surround the holiday for many people, both children and adults. In amidst the fun parts, like bringing a big Christmas tree up in the building elevator, are the sad bits, like when Everett is missing his father. And that's reality, isn't it? As wonderful as the holiday can be, it's also very difficult at times, and I appreciate that Clifton's is one of the few books that acknowledges that fact.
For a title about family, love, and the growing excitement of the last few days before Christmas, Everett Anderson's Christmas Coming is just right.
Everett Anderson's Christmas Coming by Lucille Clifton, published by Henry Holt
Sample: "Everett Anderson / knows he should / be good / but it's the biggest ball, / he had to bounce it on the wall; / and when you climb on top the chair / you see the shelf and what's up there."