Growing up I never was someone who would enjoy Christmas stories. Most of them were religiously motivated and while my family was visiting the church for Christmas and, sometimes, Easter, they never held appeal for me. Now, over thirty years later, I have a little one of my own. We are definitely not a religious family, but we celebrate Christmas as a tradition to get in contact with family and friends all over the world and take time for each other – no matter the place of living or religious background. It’s a good time to think about your goals regarding donating or volunteering for charities, too. Christmas stories are a big part of our daughter’s understanding of the value of Christmas.
„The Snow Angel“ by Christine Leeson is one of the Christmas books that focus on the real, non-religious meaning of Christmas: Being there for each other.
Two little mice are excited as they see the snow in front of their den on Christmas morning. Soon after unwrapping their gifts, nuts and some berries, they go out to play in the snow. The glittering world around them is magical and discovering a goose flying overhead they mistake the bird for an angel. As the bird crashes to the ground, they hurry to help the goose, who lost track of their flock during last night’s snowstorm. Bringing the nuts and berries they got as Christmas presents they feed the bird, watch over him as he recovers and are intrigued as the majestical creature spreads it’s wings and vanishes with a “Thank you” and “Merry Christmas”. But the bird doesn’t go without leaving something in return: It starts snowing again, this time goose feathers – a wonderful gift for the two mice and their mom, making a wonderful soft bedding for cold winter nights.
The storyline is simple, but it captivates younger children, who identify with the two little mice and worry about the beautiful goose and learn about helping and sharing. Jane Chapman’s illustrations perfectly capture the magic of a snowy Christmas morning: The curious mouse kids, the beautiful bird and the magical winter world is represented in glittery white and soft pastel colors. Finja especially loved the glittery red on the cover.
There is just one thing that disturbed me: The mice exclusively talked about the sick goose as “angel”. As an adult, I can see that Christine Leeson might have tried to incorporate a metaphor, seeing the bird as “fallen angel” and reinforce the message of helping each other – especially if it’s someone in need or someone you might not have helped otherwise. Preschool aged children might not see this message. Our daughter was more confused by it and corrected me every time I read the world “angel”: “No, mom, this is a goose. A bird. No angel.”
Other than that, “The Snow Angel” is a charming story about Christmas, family, helping those in need – and favors being returned at some point in time.