Guess what you’re getting for Christmas!

The love of reading is gift

I went Christmas shopping yesterday, and guess what I bought!

© Norah Colvin The titles of these books are hidden to maintain the “surprise” for the recipients.

© Norah Colvin
The titles of these books are hidden to maintain the “surprise” for the recipients.

Books! It wasn’t difficult to guess was it? I have written in previous posts about both giving and receiving books as gifts.  I’ll let you in on a little secret though. I did buy a few others things as well. That’s probably a good thing, otherwise the memory game My grandmother went shopping and she bought … would not do anything to develop memory and would be rather boring:

“My grandmother went shopping and she bought … a book … and a book … and a book … and a book …:

one

I have already received one beautiful book for Christmas this year: One: How many people does it take to make a difference?, and the recommendation of many others, some of which I have purchased for myself or as gifts. Books received as gifts often take a very special place in a collection.

HeidiHeidi inside

One of my strongest memories is of waking before sunrise one Christmas morning, checking to see if Santa had been, and discovering a book at the end of my bed. While there was not enough light at first to see the illustrations or read the words, I delighted in the smoothness of the cover and the smell of the pages. Slowly as the sun rose the title revealed itself: Heidi by Johanna Spyri, and I started to read. I loved that story and read it many times. After more than fifty years I still have the book in my possession, rather tattered and worn, not unlike its owner, but still loved.

In a recent post I shared some Australian Christmas picture books.   In a comment on that post Sherri Matthews, who blogs at A View from My Summerhouse,  reminded me of the Janet and Allan Ahlberg book, The Jolly Christmas Postman.   Although it was given to Bec for Christmas exactly thirty years after I received Heidi, I still have it in my possession. Shh! Don’t tell Bec. Of course the reason it was not included in my list of Christmas books is that the authors were British. (Allan is now aged 77. Janet passed away in 1994.)

cover

The Jolly Christmas Postman was published in 1991 and followed the success of the original Jolly Postman story. It is a delightful interactive book in which the postman delivers Christmas mail to storybook characters, including:

  • A Christmas card for Baby Bear from Goldilocks and her sister
  • A game about being safe in the woods for Red Riding Hood from Mr Wolf, who declares he is a “changed wolf”
  • A Humpty Dumpty jigsaw puzzle for Humpty Dumpty from all the king’s men
  • A Christmas annual and book in a book for the Gingerbread Man from Pat O’Cake Bakers
  • A Wolf Spotter’s Guide for Mr Wolf from Red Riding Hood , and
  • A special concertina “peep-show” for the postman from Santa and Mrs Santa.

activities

After the postman delivers the children’s letters to Santa, has a cup of tea and receives his gift, he hitches a ride back home on Santa’s sleigh. What a delightful conclusion to the story.

There is much to explore in this little book for both young and old; far too much for just one sitting. With books to read, games to play and puzzles to do it could entertain for hours. A full appreciation of the cleverness and humour in the story requires an understanding of fairy stories such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Red Riding Hood, The Gingerbread Man, The Three Little Pigs; and nursery rhymes such as Humpty Dumpty, Doctor Foster, and Pat-a-cake, amongst others. Reading the book is a literary adventure.

I wonder how soon before it will also be an adventure in history. It was published in 1991 before email became popular and social media was invented. The number of items sent by “snail mail” is decreasing. It may not be long before children also need a history lesson to understand what is mean by “a postman”.

Books make special memories. What special memories will you create for someone with a book this year? What books have made a special memory for you?

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

 

 

52 thoughts on “Guess what you’re getting for Christmas!

  1. stuckinscared

    Hi, Norah. I’m reminded by this post of a Christmas memory of my own… I remember waking to a book at the end of my bed one Christmas morning too… Not from Santa but from my Nanny… It was a large book, though not thick and in it was the story of Jesus… and other bible stories…including Joseph and his amazing technicolour dream coat… I read it over and over in the years that followed, loving the dream coat story most of all. … I still have the book…it’s old and worn but still loved… made extra special by the love-note from Nan inside the front cover.

    I’m also reminded that after reading one of your previous posts I was going to look up the books you mentioned then and order them for Littlie’s Christmas stocking… She does have books coming from Santa but I completely forgot to look up your titles *kicks self* o_O Oh well, too late now… I’ll have to leave it until Easter 🙂

    I wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas, Norah xxxx

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    1. Norah Post author

      Kimmie, thank you so much for sharing your story of a Christmas book from Nan. I do love the inscriptions inside the covers of books. I used to always add them to gifts myself, but lately I haven’t, sometimes fearing that the recipient may already own the book, or not like it. Maybe I should take up the practice again, hearing about how much it meant to you, and thinking about how much it meant to me.
      Oh well, never mind that you forgot to order books that I shared. No need to kick yourself.Sounds like Littlie is not going to be short of a book anyway and there’ll be many opportunities for other books in the future.
      Thank you for your Christmas wishes. I wish you and your family, peace, joy and love at Christmas time and in the new year. Look after yourself. xo

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    1. Norah Post author

      Another one of us girls who loved Heidi! Yay! I wonder do many young girls connect with her story these days. It was far removed from my experience but I loved the characters and their relationships.
      Best wishes to you and yours for the Christmas season also, Irene.

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  2. Paula Reed Nancarrow

    My daughter had a real Christmas tree in her apartment this year, and I fetched the Christmas boxes from my storage bin – the first time I had been in it since giving up the house. I was delighted to find, in the two boxes, not just ornaments but the Christmas picture books we would put out under the tree year after year before the presents arrived. They were a collection that accumulated over the years, but among them was The Jolly Christmas Postman. How they loved that one! I believe it is beneath her tree now. 😉 Have a lovely holiday, Norah.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for sharing those Christmas experiences, Paula. I breathe in and imagine the scent of the real Christmas tree, which adds to the magic of the season. I’m pleased you found your Christmas books. Your tradition of placing them under the tree matches mine. It’s so nice to hear of another family’s enjoyment of The Jolly Christmas Postman. Thanks for sharing. Enjoy the season! 🙂

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  3. julespaige

    I did have a comment but maybe I pressed the wrong button as it vanished.
    So in brief. Go Books!
    Today I let Little Miss play with one from my collection:
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Garden-Round-Series/dp/1435125908
    It is a chubby board with six big removable puzzle pieces as you tell the story you put the puzzle together and then a little plastic bunny (like the pull back cars) can ‘zoom’ around the grove in the completed puzzle. 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Oh, Jules. I’m so sorry your comment vanished. I appreciate your taking the time to write it again, even if abbreviated. I agree with you: “Go books!”
      I love the sound of that interactive puzzle book. I’m sure Little Miss had lots of fun with it. Not to mention Grandmother. What does she call you? My grandchildren just call me Norah.:)

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      1. julespaige

        One set is Nana and Pop-pop, we’re Grama and Grampa. Though there are oodles of odd names. I had wondered for a while why a grandmother would be called GiGi or GeGe… but then I heard that one woman anyway was a young enough Great Grandmother so … that was her explanation for the double ‘G’.

        I remember just calling my grandparents Grama and Grampa. Unless we were all together or wanted to explain about a particular set and then we used added their first names. Though I know of others who when doing the same thing use ‘last names’ – guess those folks are a tad more formal.

        When we talk to our grands about their greats (we just say your great grandmother/father and first name. But most of the time for Aunts and Uncles we leave off the great and just say Aunt or Uncle and their first name. Gets a bit confusing with all the Greats that ours have. And then all the good friends are also honored with Aunt or Uncle for respect. I guess to not have to say Mr or Mrs along with a last name.

        Is calling grandparents by their first names common in your area or just your family?

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        1. Norah Post author

          Hi Jules,
          Thank you for your lovely response. So you are Grama. I’ll try to remember that (won’t promise). That’s lovely. My Mum and Dad were Grandma and Granddad to my children. Hub’s parents were Granny and Grandpa. The different names, as for the grandparents of your grandchildren, definitely reduces confusion.
          Our children have always called us (Hub and me) by our first names, though Bec will use Mummy quite often too. We made that decision quite early on so that there wasn’t the confusion of which mum, or dad, when we were among a lot of others e.g. at playgroup, at the pool, or in the shopping centre. I think our choice of being a more democratic family than either of us experienced was influential in making that decision also. But possibly even more important than that was our unwillingness to call each other Mum and Dad to ensure that son did, and our dislike of the way other couples referred to each other as mum and dad. Son’s partner refers to her parents by their first names also; and for the reasons just explained, it seemed perfectly natural for the children to call each of the grandparents by their first names. None of us wanted the title. Everybody else calls us by our first names. Why shouldn’t they? There is no confusion about who is being talked about. Interestingly they do call their parents Mum and Dad. However the children are very interested in family relationships and know their relationship to everybody. Grandson will often ask me to tell “my son” something; or talk about his mother’s father, or his dad’s sister. It is very cute. So that’s a long answer, but I think this “tradition” is just in my little family, though there may be isolated others who do similar. Thanks for asking. 🙂

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          1. julespaige

            I think in the Amish communities, though I am not certain about family relationship names, that children often call adults by first names. I remember reading a book where the children call the teacher by her (maybe his) first name. And perhaps for the reasons you have explained the larger Amish families do the same to avoid confusion when everyone gathers in large groups? But then I think there are many names that are repeated or similar.

            In our family Aunts and Uncles (and honored friends too) are called Aunt or Uncle with their first names.

            It took me a long time to call my Mother-In-Law Mom (she should rest). But when the other ‘Mom’ isn’t around there isn’t any confusion. For a long time we did not have family close by. Now we do. I always try to tell the grands about family – even the ones that are not close.

            I remember (and should update as I think I had one a while back) having a book of just faces for the grands to look at of family members. So they could know who they were talking too – especially for the folks that they didn’t see every day.

            It is tricky names. Especially those that can have ‘nick-names’ or be shortened. And also how one is introduced to someone. And how many of the folks in the same circle of family or friends have the same name and who calls who what.

            I had a friend (using a different name here) named Theresa – I always called her Theresa her family called her Terry. One day I called asking for Terry…the sister asked who are you calling for, so I then said Theresa. The sister put the phone down and then called, “Terry the phone is for you!” – Different people get used to what you call them. Three different people can call you by three different names and you know who each one is.

            I had my boys when they were young call us, their parents Mama and Papa… Always knew who they were calling in a crowd. It wasn’t until they got older that they went to Mom and Dad, especially for introductions to someone else. 😉 This is my Mom and Dad. Sometimes though I still when talking to my ‘boys’ refer to myself and their father as Ma and Pa 🙂

            Sometimes though in the volunteer and community groups the boys actually call their Dad by his first name as to not confuse who they need in that out in the field situation.

            I’m just starting to explain to the grands about brother and sister. As both Grama and Grampa have one of each. And I think Nana and Pop-pop have their share of siblings too. So even for a small family – names and relationships can be confusing.

            One son has a relative with a nick family nick name. But I don’t think I’m there yet to call them by ‘it’ – even though I was introduce to them by that name.

            Names can be both fun and confusing. But we manage. 😉

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            1. Norah Post author

              Thank you for this added information and response, Jules. The different traditions are interesting, aren’t they?
              I was interested to see mention of teachers being called by their first names. At one school I was at, the ESL teachers (all female) were called Miss (first name). I think the original reason may have been because the last name of some was difficult to pronounce, but I think it did much to foster a friendly, warm atmosphere. I was disappointed that I, as a classroom teacher, was not offered the same opportunity. However I wouldn’t have really liked it because “Miss” and “Norah” don’t go that well together. I was sure I would end up with “Miss Snorer”! Sometimes when names are difficult to pronounce the teachers declare themselves Mr T or Mrs O or whatever. I think it’s actually nice for children (and other teachers and parents) to make an effort to learn to pronounce the name, but not everyone agrees.
              You also mentioned the family books. I made these for my children too. I mentioned them in a previous post: http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-sf I think they are a great way of helping children understand family relationships and get to know relatives they may not see often.
              I agree with you about nick-names. I don’t like be introduced to someone by a nick-name, particularly if it’s not very flattering. I try to avoid using it, but sometimes it’s what they want to be called. I also like to be introduced to a person by the name they wish to be called, as I find it difficult changing afterwards. I have someone quite close to me who was introduced by one shortened version of her name but another shortened version is mostly used by others. It is difficult to change and doesn’t seem right either way. However, as you say, different names can be used for the one person and everyone knows who is being spoken to or about. What’s in a name, eh? Who would have thought we could have such a discussion. As you say, confusing but we manage. Unless we just avoid using a name at all, which some people seem to manage to do. But I think that’s rather impolite. 🙂

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              1. julespaige

                I shall have to investigate that included post!

                I do remember though that if one treats children with respect and if they learn to say (perhaps) refrigerator that they can also learn to pronounce a more difficult personal first or last name.

                I remember teaching a child who was call Vladimir. I made sure the students in my class (pre-school) respected the name. But the father then insisted we call the child VJ because he didn’t want his child to be ‘different’.

                And then you get the celebrates that seem to have little respect for the names that they give their children.
                Like the famous writer Edward Lear who named his son King (the son latter as an adult changed it) and named his daughter ‘Crystal Shanda’… At least I believe she did get married.

                Cheers!

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                1. Norah Post author

                  Thanks for those added remarks, Jules. Poor Vladimir. Dad gave him the name and then didn’t want him to be called it! There are so many different names, I don’t think children even think about them as such.
                  I love your story about the names Edward Lear gave his children. Is it true? It sounds like a joke, though it probably wasn’t to his children if it is correct! 🙂

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                  1. julespaige

                    Well now it is odd that I can’t find anything about those names…Perhaps it was a different Lear other than the famed poet/painter? It was someone, as the story was printed somewhere.

                    Ah, it wasn’t Edward it was a gent named Bill Lear: Here:
                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Lear

                    One of his daughters…Crystal Shanda (whom they always called Shanda)…I’m not sure about the ‘King’ though I did know some folks who did name their son ‘Rex Earl’.

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  4. Sherri

    Oh Norah, I love this post, thank you so much, you’ve given me a wonderful Christmas present! I loved seeing the Jolly Christmas Postman again, with its deligthful contents, so many happy memoiries! And Heidi was one of my absolute favourite books too! Christmas in our house is never without the gift of books, they are the best gifts of all. I wish you and your family a very Happy Christmas filled with excellent reading and stories to tell, and judging by all the books you’re giving as gifts, I already know that it will be that and more. Take care Norah, and I’ll see you next year…and a big Christmas hug to you, as I go away beaming about my Jolly Christmas Postman 🙂 xxx

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m so pleased you enjoyed the Jolly Postman post, especially since you gave me the inspiration! It’s nice that we share Heidi as a favourite too. It makes me think about the ways some parents try to protect their children from harsh situations portrayed in some books e.g. death of a parent. Heidi’s life was tough but I loved Grandfather and the kindnesses and friendships she experienced. I am not surprised books were always given as gifts in your family. I expected no less.
      I look forward to hearing all about your Christmas when you return to the blogosphere. Best wishes to you and your loved ones. #SMAG 🙂 xxx

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      1. Sherri

        Yes, Heidi’s story impacted me in a big way, we must discuss next year! The same to you Norah, I look forward to reading all about your summer Christmas 🙂 It’s still mild here, just very wet and windy and no sign of snow anywhere. But my head is full of The Jolly Christmas Postman thanks to you and so I shall imagine the snow instead 🙂 See you soon my friend, take care.. Never mind jingle bells, it’s #SMAG all the way…. 😀 xxxxxxxxxxxx

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        1. Norah Post author

          I hope you are enjoying the best Christmas ever! Even more jolly than the Jolly Postman’s Christmas. I look forward to hearing about it when you get back. 🙂

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  5. Bec

    What a lovely post! I do remember the Postie’s journeys, and recall loving that book as it was so exciting with so many interactive parts. Have I ever seen “Heidi”? It’s nice that you have fond memories of it, and you still have a copy. I inspected the pile of books very closely but couldn’t make them out!!!!!!!!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Bec. I’m sure I would have shown you Heidi at some stage. It is quite old fashioned now, but I loved it. Remind me to show you some time when you are over. I’m pleased you couldn’t work out the titles of the books, though they are not all for you! 🙂

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  6. Sacha Black

    Lovely post – I remember the jolly postman I had it as a child too. I loved pulling out the letters.

    My special memory this year? Other than just having had the boys second birthday, he is starting to read letters. I nearly burst with pride, but he is learning letters and sounds and and and ARGHHHHHH so proud! A memory that will never leave me. the best part of my day is reading with him 😍😍😍😍😍

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    1. Norah Post author

      Spending time with young children has got to be one of life’s treasures. Sharing in their learning and developing is a magical experience. They are so clever! Enjoy! 🙂

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  7. macjam47

    Norah, what a wonderful memory you’ve shared here. When I was in 5th grade, my paternal grandmother gave me a book of short stories and poetry that I read over and over. I kept it and read it to my children. I think at some point, my oldest son requested to “borrow” it to read to my grandsons. I must ask if he still has it. I’m sure my little granddaughter will enjoy it when she is a bit older.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your story, Michelle. It’s interesting how some books place themselves firmly in our hearts and memories, and others fade away. This is a lovely memory you have shared.
      I’m sure your son will still have the book. Pity him if he doesn’t! 🙂
      It will be lovely to be able to share the book and your special stories and memories of it with your granddaughter. I’m sure she is receiving some lovely books from her grandmother this year!

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  8. Annecdotist

    I love that story of you waking up on Christmas morning and gradually discovering the book – and how fabulous that you’ve still got it all these years later. You certainly seemed to have enjoyed your shopping trip.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Anne. These old books are treasures. I’m sure you have a few of your own from childhood days too. When Hub told me I had been in the book store for nearly two hours, I didn’t believe him. But the clock said it was true! 🙂

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      1. Annecdotist

        Actually, no, we were encouraged to read a lot but books mostly came from the library! At Christmas, one of my aunts often sent books, which we did read, but they were never quite pitched at the right age level. We also got an “annual” annually – but these were based on comics.

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        1. Norah Post author

          I would have read more library books than books I owned as I grew up also. As an adult, when I could afford to buy them, I wanted to own them. You could cast me guilty as an aunt too. I give books and hope that they are appropriate and of interest. It doesn’t always work. But nothing else would either. For a few years I received from Santa (signed by Mum and Dad) a Readers’ Digest Young People’s Annual. I loved them. They were full of stories, information about a variety of topics, jokes and puzzles; pretty much like a Readers’ Digest but for children. Unfortunately I was criticized for trying to keep them out of reach of smaller less careful hands (I hated my books to be torn or damaged) and never received another one after that. I thought it was strange that I was punished for trying to look after my books, but I was considered selfish for “not sharing”. Siblings I didn’t share with were toddlers at the time and unable to read. I never figured that one out. I’m not a big fan of comics, though I remember reading Archie and Jughead at some stage.

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            1. Norah Post author

              Choosing the books is fun!
              I maybe didn’t explain myself properly. I didn’t mind sharing, but I didn’t like my books to be damaged either. If the younger ones were able to look after them, that would have been fine. 🙂

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  9. TanGental

    In one of those synchronicity moments this story about Heidi books comes after I was talking to Linda yesterday recalling when we moved into our first house and my parents arrived with boxes and boxes of books from my childhood which mum had stored in the loft. Dusty and dog eared each triggered some sort of time or moment memory. There was a stain just inside the cover of a Biggles book which was my blood where I cut myself and the only thing my brother could think to use to staunch the flow was the book. Books as bandages, now there’s an alternative use.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Oh no! That is an innovative use of a book, but I would’ve have liked my book to be smeared with blood, especially if it was a special one as I think Biggles was for you. (Was that why big brother chose to use it?) I wonder was it a paper cut, so a paper bandage was appropriate? Paper cuts are sooo painful! At least the blood on the book created a memory worth talking about. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

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  10. susancarey

    Growing up on a farm we weren’t a very literary family and had few books in the house. As I got older I acquired more books and my favourites were anything pony-related, such as The Black, Jill and the Perfect Pony and my all time favourites, the Silvery Brumby books about Australian wild horses. I will always the wonderful oral story of Christmas morning that the animals can talk for that special day.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m pleased that you developed a love of books even though you didn’t have many in your house when you were growing up. I haven’t heard the story of animals talking on Christmas Day. It sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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  11. Sarah Brentyn

    📚❤️ Best shopping ever. I love shopping for books and giving them.. That book “One: How many people does it take to make a difference?” sounds wonderful. Also, love your story of getting Heidi one year. Those tattered, old books are my favorite, too. Every year we struggle to find “toys” but have stacks of books. 😀

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m not surprised to hear you enjoy shopping for and giving books as much as I do! Receiving them is pretty special too. I was very touched when I received the book “One”. It is full of amazing quotes, questions, sayings and suggestions. I know what you mean about struggling to find toys, but books are another thing. My grandson already agrees that you can’t have too many books! He’s definitely a keeper! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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  12. thecontentedcrafter

    Unfortunately for me I have no grandchildren Norah and so the joy of children’s books is no longer part of my life. I do have a daughter in the book business and am fed an unending supply of reading matter – especially at birthdays and Christmas 🙂 It is always a great time opening the gifts to see which books she has chosen for me.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Ooh! How wonderful to have a daughter in the book business and a never-ending supply of books. Sounds like a dream. I’m sure you read your share of children’s books over the years. Not everyone continues to read them as I do. Enjoy your Christmas reading! Best wishes for the season.

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  13. Sue Vincent

    My granddaughhter will have shiny new copies of two books in her stocking this year… both by Dr Seuss. One, the Sleep Book, I got as a Sunday School Prize, sometime around the year dot, the other, A Wocket in my Pocket, a firm favourite of her father’s. I love the zany illustrations, mad verse and real understanding of how a child’s mind works.

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    1. Norah Post author

      What a lovely pair of books for your granddaughter and even more special because of the family significance. I remember my son reading me The Sleep Book when he was about 5, and I fell asleep! It is a very long book, but it’s a good one. I used to read it to him at bedtime to get him to sleep. I’m not sure if it worked on him, but it worked on me. The nonsense and rhyme in A Wocket in my Pocket, like in others of his books, is always fun. What a lovely day of family sharing is in store for you all. Enjoy!

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