A Picture Book Holiday – by Charlotte Canelli

Read Charlotte Canelli’s column in the November 29th edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

In the summer of 2012, the Canelli family moved into a lovely 1870 home in Norwood. It is an interesting house with a magical mixture of eclectic modernism and Victorian embellishment. A long brick walkway leads from the sidewalk to wooden French doors and twin front porches and gingerbread trim add to its charm. Warm Christmas tree light twinkles softly onto the snowy front lawn. The side porch is roomy enough for an extra Christmas tree to greet holiday guests. It certainly conjures visions of sugarplums with white icing trim and at the time we bought it we felt that it was a perfect Christmas house.

Soon after we settled into our Norwood home, the Norwood Neighbors asked us if we would consider holding our house open for the Norwood Holiday House Tour 2012. It took me less than a few hours to admit that I was interested – I love to decorate, I love the holidays, but more than that, I was more than happy to help raise money for the Fred Day House and the Norwood Historical Society. It was a wonderful experience opening our home to more than 400 guests in December 2012.

The Norwood Historical Society (headquartered in the Fred Day house) “is the repository of information about Norwood’s history.” The Historical Society website boasts that the Day House is the first structure in Norwood to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Norwood Neighbors are a group committed to supporting the Fred Day House. Every year they organize the Holiday House Tours – profits of which support the Day House raising money for the restoration of the historic home. The House Tours are also a wonderful time to join with neighbors from across Norwood, and visitors from neighboring towns, and enjoy the homes decorated for the holidays.

Each year the Neighbors choose a municipal building in Norwood as part of the annual house tour. This year, that building is the Morrill Memorial Library.

To mark the event, this year the Friends of the Library have created a special commemorative ornament. Beautifully crafted in porcelain, the two-sided ornament is collectible with an artist’s sketch of the library on the front and the library’s history on the back. Dozens of these ornaments will adorn a large tree in the library’s front foyer. The ornaments will be on sale both at the library and the Day House on Sunday, December 1 and December 8.

More than half-a-dozen holiday trees will be featured in the library during a Picture Book Holiday on Sunday, December 8, two of them in the Children’s Room. Children’s Librarians, Jean Todesca and Jane Bradley are decorating a Mo Willems tree with themes from his comical books featuring both Pigeon (who we can’t let drive the bus) and the lost-then-found Knuffle Bunny.

Willems lives locally in Northhampton, Massachusetts, and Willems’ books have been a favorite with the picture book crowd since 2003 when Pigeon first appeared. Three of Willems’ books have won Caldecott Honor awards. (Before writing his first picture book, Willems was an Emmy-award winning writer and animator for Sesame Street.)

The second tree in the Children’s Room will be decorated by Girl Scout troops in the area, supervised and directed by library trustee, and Girl Scout leader, Sarah Begg. That tree will highlight the art and characters in books by the amazing Eric Carle, author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Grouchy Ladybug, and the Very Busy Spider. Carle began illustrating books in collaboration with Bill Martin, Jr. (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, 1967) and began a career that has spanned almost fifty years. He and his wife lived in Northampton, Massachusetts when they opened their Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts in 2002. Carle has won many awards for his books and collage-type art that has captured the imaginations of so many children. (An Eric Carle poster has adorned the interior of the library elevator for years. That poster was placed at child’s level to keep little hands and eyes off of the elevator’s alarm button. It works very well!)

Other trees in the library will be found on the second floor in the Cushing Reading Room and Reference Room. A wall tree outside of the Director’s Office will be decorated with miniature renditions of classic children’s Christmas Tales – Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” among them.

One tree will play home to a flock of birds, nests, birdseed, and birdhouses accompanied by the picture book, “A Bird in Winter”. The beautiful book is inspired by Flemish Renaissance painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting The Hunters in the Snow. Little peasant girl Mayken nurses an injured bird and, at the same time, appreciates a winter world of trees and sparkling snow. It’s a lovely reminder for us to tend to our birds during the winter months.

Several small trees will celebrate the art of Robert Sabuda, pop-up book artist extraordinaire. Sabuda attended the Pratt Institute in New York City, focusing on paper engineering and turning that interest into wonderful art for children’s books in 1994. Three of his books will be featured: “Cookie Count: A Tasty Pop-Up”, “A Christmas Alphabet”, and “The Night Before Christmas”. The beauty of Sabuda’s work is the fact that each pop-up creation amazingly slips back between the pages somewhat effortlessly. (While the paper-engineering is beautiful and skilled, each creation must be handled with care. It’s important to keep these books from the tiniest of hands, however.) Two small trees will feature Sabuda’s themes, one decorated with cookie cutters and another with a paper alphabet.

At last, a large tree will feature over 100 versions of Santa Claus as depicted in nearly two centuries of versions of Clement C. Moore’s “A Night Before Christmas” or “A Visit From St. Nicholas”. There are over 150 versions of Moore’s poem in the Minuteman Library Network. Twenty of those will be on display along with the tree.

We hope you’ll visit the library for picture books of all kinds throughout 2013. We also hope you will visit the trees of a Picture Book Holiday on Sunday, December 8 as part of the Norwood Holiday House Tours. Tickets for the tour will be available and the Friends of the Library will be selling their very first commemorative ornament from 2-6. Call the library (781-769-0200) for more information.

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