JOSEPH HAD A LITTLE OVERCOAT is at once fanciful and wise, thought-provoking and engaging, and a most wonderful book to give a young person this holiday season. It's at the top of my list of books that every child should have in their home library.
Here's the background on what inspired this post and the recommendation:
I've been struck several times this week by an almost overwhelming THANKFULNESS, brought on by some simple acts that so many of us take for granted: shopping for groceries for the holiday, purchasing a few Christmas presents for the girls, ordering a pie from my girlfriend who makes the best darn sweet potato pie on the planet, dropping my spare change in a collection bucket...
A few years ago, my family went through an incredibly difficult period, where any of those things would have seemed like tremendous luxuries. During the holidays, I remember feeling like the girl in Rumplestiltskin sitting in the room full of straw, feeling the pressure to turn it in to gold. My creativity was indeed pushed to the limit, and as a result of having to make meaningful, quality gifts with only what I had on hand, and special and delicious meals with what was left in the pantry, I found that indeed I could spin straw in to gold ~ how empowering and life-changing!
(This illustration generously provided by Grandma's Graphics )
So, at thirty-five years of age, I confirmed what I had often suspected: You can always make something out of nothing. It's a motto that serves me well, and I hope to pass on to my children, along with the spirit of giving and sharing, everyday gratitude, and never taking anything for granted.
Also a firm believer in the "everything happens for a reason" theory, I happened to arrive early to pick up my daughter from preschool one day during our troubled times, and caught the end of a most amazing story: Joseph Had a Little Overcoat. I ended up borrowing the book that evening and reading it over and over again. It so perfectly conveyed the spirit and tone I was wanting to set for my daughters.
"In today's throwaway world, Joseph's old-fashioned frugality is a welcome change. Based on a Yiddish song from Simms Taback's youth (lyrics and music reproduced on the last page), the book is filled with rhythms and arresting colors that will delight every reader. As more and more holes appear in Joseph's coat, die-cut holes appear on the pages, hinting at each next manifestation. The illustrations are striking, created with gouache, watercolor, collage, pencil, and ink. Every inch of space is crammed with fanciful, funny details, such as the headline on a discarded newspaper: "Fiddler on Roof Falls off Roof."... (Ages 4 to 8)" Amazon Book Review, Emilie Coulter
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