Tomie de Paola is best known for his Strega Nona books, a lovable witch whose assistant gets into all sorts of trouble. But Tomie de Paola also has other stories to tell, many of them about his childhood, and Christmas Remembered is one of those stories, a fond memory of past Christmases.
Children’s books often deal with fictional stories, but here, de Paola brings together several different holiday vignettes, each one focusing on a particular time in his life from his childhood to adulthood. Kids can read and watch as de Paola enjoys the holidays with his parents, such as buying a fake fireplace to make sure that Santa can come visit the house. They’ll see how his Christmases change as he grows, such as when he spends the time with friends and other artists in San Francisco. Each year brings something different, but there is always one constant each time; this holiday is an important moment in which friends and family get together and have a good time.
It’s a bit different than what kids are typically used to when it comes to holiday stories, but that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy it. Christmas Remembered has a unique style to it, not only in the storytelling, but also in Tomie de Paola’s illustrative style. Those who know his work will feel at home with its familiarity, while those new to it will have an interesting time gazing at the collage style and mixed-media design. The scrapbook-like way he puts each illustration together will yield some fun items, and each page carries strong feelings depending upon which holiday it is and where Tomie is at. Kids will see a bit of traditional celebration that de Paola’s family enjoyed, giving them a look at what other families do during the holiday, as well as what adults can do when they’re older.
The colors are bold and the stories are heartfelt. The book is available as a paperback as well as a hardcover, which will last longer and may be preferable for kids who fall in love with the book. Children of all ages will enjoy Christmas Remembered, whether they are 3 years-old or 10 years-old.