The Twelve Days of Christmas

( 3 )


?The Twelve Days of Christmas? is sung in churches, houses, and concert halls throughout the Christmas season. It would be hard to imagine a Christmas celebration without it. From the partridge in the pear tree to the five golden rings to the twelve drummers drumming, carolers enjoy taking turns singing different verses. Gennady Spirin?s sumptuous paintings bring new life and spectacular beauty to this classic song, making it a gift to be treasured at Christmastime. An Illustrator?s Note is included which ...

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“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is sung in churches, houses, and concert halls throughout the Christmas season. It would be hard to imagine a Christmas celebration without it. From the partridge in the pear tree to the five golden rings to the twelve drummers drumming, carolers enjoy taking turns singing different verses. Gennady Spirin’s sumptuous paintings bring new life and spectacular beauty to this classic song, making it a gift to be treasured at Christmastime. An Illustrator’s Note is included which addresses the song’s origin and history.

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Editorial Reviews

Julie Just
Spirin's opulent illustrations perfectly suit the French hens, milking maids and golden rings.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Delicate, ornamental images in colored pencil and watercolors, set in egg-shaped frames, accompany the lyrics to the holiday carol. The scenes are cumulative: French hens and turtle doves join the partridge in the pear tree, which is pictured in an ornate urn. Spirin offers several whimsical touches (the tree's urn sports wings on the first page, and the “Four Calling Birds” are parrots with exotic plumage). Little by little, more of the foreground emerges, until the organized chaos appears in full splendor with elegant pipers, lords, ladies and milking maids, all. An artfully traditional interpretation. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Carlee Hallman
The colorful, oval pictures begin with a partridge in a pear tree. As each line is added the tree becomes smaller and smaller as more birds and people are added to the foreground within the oval. Elaborate costumes for the drummers, pipers, lords, ladies, and milk maids are gorgeous. Notes at the end give the dates of the twelve days of Christmas and try to trace the origins of the song. The twelve days "…stretch from Christmas Day, December 25, to Epiphany, January 6, when the three kings' visit to the baby Jesus is celebrated." The earliest version appears in a book in the 1780s in England and was described as a children's counting game. Catholics believed the song had hidden meanings and was written at a time in England when Catholicism was forbidden. Some of the words have changed through the years such as "collie birds" to "calling birds." Regardless of the origins people enjoy singing it at Christmas. The music appears at the end. Children will enjoy identifying the various animals and people in the pictures. This is a good looking gift book. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 4–This holiday favorite is brought to life through Spirin’s gorgeous illustrations. The last pages include the score as well as a note about the song’s historical origins. Oval paintings act as windows containing the art, while text on the opposite page is framed by an ornamental garland from a pear tree. The elaborately detailed and exquisitely executed artwork, rendered in watercolor and colored pencil, has a Renaissance feel. Roman numerals are placed on the tree or the base of the tree planter to indicate which day is being celebrated. As the oval inset fills with calling birds, golden rings, swans-a-swimming, etc., readers will enjoy trying to count all the gifts. A must-have.–Diane Olivo-Posner, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Spirin's immediately recognizable artistic style stands out in another arresting interpretation of a traditional text (Goldilocks and the Three Bears, 2009, etc.). His highly detailed watercolor-and-colored-pencil illustrations present in each opening an oval painting against a text page bordered in garlands of pears and leaves. His signature touches of gold are seen in the pears and in details of the costumes of the song characters, as well as in the text as the top of the pages defining the particular numerical day of Christmas. Succeeding illustrations become more and more crowded with all the added characters from the song, but each tiny animal as well as all the maids, ladies, lords, pipers and drummers can still be counted. The final pages provide the musical score and a note about the origins of the song. Lovely. (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761455516
  • Publisher: Cavendish Square Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 11, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is a well known Christm

    "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is a well known Christmas-season song. It adds some dose of levity the twelve days between the Christmas day, December 25th, and the Epiphany on January 6th. Its origins are unknown, but in its familiar form can be traced to the late eighteenth century. It's an amusing song that might have been part of a game at some point. The gifts that are given seem quaint and even ridiculous, especially by today's standards. This ridiculousness was probably intended and the point of this song all along.

    This books brings forth soem really remarkable, rich illustrations that go a long way to help us visualize the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas." The illustrations are vivid and very detailed. They are as beautiful as you will find in a children's book. However, there is not much to the book content-wise. It just contains the words of the song and the illustrations, with the sheet music and a brief history at the end. The illustrations help you visualise the sheer ridiculousness of the gifts given. If they were real they would not fit in anywhere but a royal court. (Or one of the Donald Trump's buildings. But I repeat myself.)

    If you tend to play "The Twelve days of Christmas" at your home, then this book may help your little ones get a nice visual treat to go along. But on its own, aside from the illustrations, I don't find this book very interesting.

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  • Posted January 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Another Beautiful Book From Gennady Spirin

    A familiar theme, and song associated with Christmas: This one presented by Gennady Spirin. I had to add it to my collection of Twelve Days of Christmas books. Any book illustrated by Gennady Spirin is a treasure. Mr. Spirin's art always has a luminous quality, reminiscent of the Renaissance. The colors are lovely. This is the book to get.

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