Every holiday season, along with the Christmas decorations, we dig out my box of childhood Christmas books. This book, called The Christmas Wreath, is so awesome, it quickly earned a place in this box as a keeper forever. The book was written by James Hoffman in 1993 and illustrated by Jack Stockman.
I love animals and especially polar bears. The polar bear in this story does not have a name, but she does have a sweet tooth. While apparently strolling around the north pole near Santa's house, this hungry polar bear smells the peppermint candy cane on a wreath hanging outside the door to the elves' workshop. She walks up to the door to snatch the candy cane and the wreath falls off the door and slips over her head and lands around her neck.
When I first saw the picture of the polar bear looking very surprised to have a wreath around her neck and was unable to shake it off, I had no idea what would happen next.
This beautifully illustrated polar bear goes on a series of little adventures in an effort to get that wreath off her neck. She dives in and out of the bay, but instead of the wreath coming off her head, sea weed, other sea flowers, and even little fish get stuck onto the wreath.
By now, the wreath is looking quite beautiful, but the polar bear does not know, nor does she care, she just wants to be free of this wreath that is weighing her down.
By the time the water collected on the wreath freezes, it is so heavy around her neck, she desperately continues to rid herself of it.
As a child, the final picture just before the polar bear frees herself from the wreath, nearly took my breath away. It is so beautiful. To this day I look at it and wish I could tell the author and illustrator how many happy memories this book has provided.
The story is as brilliant to me today as it was back then. If you are looking for a very special Christmas book, The Christmas Wreath is absolutely the best!