About the Holiday
You’ve heard the saying “Too Many Books, Too Little Time,” right? Well, this truism has spawned not only one, but two Read a New Book Month celebrations! Both September and December have been designated as times to make special plans to search out and read new books. These can be books that are newly published or books that are new to you. And if you find yourself putting a few old favorites in the pile, that’s okay too! Today’s book bridges both months because It’s never too early to think about adding books to those upcoming holiday gift lists!
The Christmas Crumb
Written by Lou Treleaven | Illustrated by Alex Willmore
“Way up in the clouds, where the air is much thinner, / A giant royal family ate Christmas dinner.” The turkey and ham were simply enormous, and the bowl of potatoes so large and so deep that a child from Earth down below “could get in and hide.” But the most magnificent thing was the Yule log dessert that lay on the platter like, well, a freshly cut tree. As the giants gobbled their cake, one crumb fell to the floor. It bounced and it rolled right out the door.
The giant princess apologized for losing the crumb, but her mother assured her that the crumb was so tiny no harm had been done. But the crumb had kept rolling, and it fell through the clouds then crashed through the door of a “tumbledown cottage” where “Pip sat with his mother. / They didn’t have much, but they did have each other.” Pip was ecstatic; this Christmas dessert could replace their “thin gruel.” He dug in with gusto, sending a smaller crumb flying.
Pip was upset that he’d lost even a morsel, but his mom reassured him that it was “‘only a crumb. / So dinky, so diddy, it’s not worth the fussing. / It’s inconsequential – it really is nothing.’” By now that tinier crumb had found a new home in a mouse hole where “a dozen mice pups / Were getting quite desperate for food to turn up.” They swarmed on that crumb—their great Christmas feast that would feed them for weeks.
In all of the scarfing, a small crumb came loose. It rolled off the table and through a crack in the floor. A couple of bounces left it out in the snow, where a group of red ants was about to eat leaves. But they gave up the cuttings as quick as a wink when this surprising treat—“almost as big as [their] nest—fell into their midst. They hugged and they celebrated; they had food for the winter, they were “‘going to survive!’” They cheered, “‘This Christmas bonanza has just saved our lives.’” Was that it, then? All the sharing that first crumb could do? You might think what was left was too tiny, too wee, but one ant “passed his share down to an overjoyed flea.” So this Christmas (and all through the year) remember that what one person thinks small, someone else will hold dear.
Like the Christmas season itself, Lou Treleaven’s story of a treat that keeps on giving is full of charm, surprise, and cheer. Her set up of a royal giant family enjoying their holiday feast lends a magical plausibility to the idea of a crumb large enough to pass down and down and down again to feed multiple families—an idea that brings new delight each time a crumb escapes and finds a new home. Treleaven’s whimsical storyline soars on her jaunty rhyme scheme and her superb word choices that are humorous and heart-tugging at the same time.
Her deft messaging will appeal to children’s natural empathy as well as their awareness today of need in their communities as in each household the child apologizes for losing even a crumb. The adults’ repeated response, while providing a fun phrase for readers to join in on, can also lead to deeper discussions about the importance and rewards of giving.
Accompanying Lou Treleaven’s story are Alex Willmore’s hilarious and heartening illustrations that set the Christmas scene with fresh color tones and captivating details that show the impact the “crumb” has on each family. Spying a child hiding in the giants’ big bowl of potatoes will elicit giggles, and the characters’ facial expressions—from the princess’s delighted gasp at seeing the Yule log to the mother’s look of impending doom as the crumb barrels through her home—are priceless.
Willmore’s work with perspective is worthy of special note. Underlying Treleaven’s message that something’s worth is all in ones perspective, Willmore’s scenes employ close-up and distant views; commonly recognized items are juxtaposed to the giants, Pip and his mom, the mice, the ants, and finally the flea to show scale; and the runaway crumb becomes smaller and smaller but is always just the right size. Math-oriented kids will enjoy pointing these out, and some may like replicating scenes by physically arranging similar items. In a final spread, the princes, Pip, the mice, the ants, and even the barely perceptible flea line up with their crumbs in a meaningful demonstration of how something small to one person is big to another.
An utter delight from beginning to end, The Christmas Crumb offers a sweet message about giving and perspective that’s perfect for the holiday season and all year around. Adults and kids will love sharing this rollicking read aloud again and again. This is a book you’ll want to buy for your home, school, or public library shelves.
Ages 4 – 9
Maverick Arts, 2021 | ISBN 978-1848867765
Discover more about Lou Treleaven, her books, plays, and other work on her website. You’ll also find activities to print.
To learn more about Alex Willmore, his books, and his art, visit his website
Read a New Book Month Activity
Mini Accordion Book
With this craft you can make a little book for your own writing, pictures, or stickers. With a holiday-themed cover, you can use it as an advent calendar or holiday wish list. This little book would also make a fun gift to make for your friends.
- 12-inch by 12-inch sheet of scrapbooking paper – single or double sided
- Decorative scrapbooking paper, wrapping paper, or a page of the child’s own writing or drawing
- Stickers, pictures
- Draw a 3-inch border around the edge of the 12-inch by 12-inch sheet of scrapbooking paper. This will make a 6-inch square in the center of the paper
- Draw a line from the top of the paper to meet the left edge of the 6-inch square. The line will be 3 inches from the left side of the paper.
- Draw a 3-inch line from the top center of the 6-inch square to the center of the square
To Cut the Paper
- Beginning with the line at the top of the piece of paper, cut down the left edge of the 6-inch square.
- Cut across the bottom of the square.
- Cut up the right side of the square
- Cut across the top of the square to the line in the center.
- Cut down the 3-inch center line to the middle of the square
To Fold the Pages
- Draw light or dotted lines every 3 inches along the strip of paper
- Starting at the top of the strip, fold the paper on the lines accordion style.
- Make the first fold by folding the first 3-inch section down towards you.
- Fold the second 3-inch section back away from you
- Continue folding the 3-inch sections down and back until the strip is entirely folded
To Make the Cover
- Cut two 3 ½ -inch squares from the cardboard
- Cut two 4 ½-inch squares of from the decorative paper, wrapping paper, or child’s writing or drawing
- Cover the cardboard with the paper, folding the excess paper over the edges and securing with glue
To Assemble the Book
- With the strip of paper completely folded, glue one cover to the top 3-inch square
- Glue the second cover to the end 3-inch square
Fill the book with writing, drawings, stickers, whatever!
You can find The Christmas Crumb at these booksellers
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Picture Book Review