Happy holidays – whichever one(s) you celebrate! I can think of no better words and sentiment to usher in Christmas than today’s Perfect Picture Book:
Title: Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem
Written By: Maya Angelou
Illustrated By: Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
Publisher/date: Schwartz & Wade Books (Random House Children’s Books)/2008 (poem originally written in 2005)
Suitable for Ages: 6-10
Themes/Topics: Poetry, Christmas, Peace
Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Floodwaters await in our avenues.
Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and gray and threatening.
Brief Synopsis: Read by Ms. Angelou at the lighting of the national Christmas tree in 2005, this poem is a celebration of the “Glad Season” and a prayer for peace for peoples of all faiths.
Links to Resources:
- Candles figure prominently in the celebration of Christmas, as they do in the illustrations of this poem. Light candles and share your hopes and dreams for the holiday season and the world.
- Learn about other holidays celebrated around the world during December.
Why I Like this Book:
It’s a poem by Maya Angelou – need I write more? And while it’s a Christmas poem, the real theme is Peace – something desired by “Believers and Nonbelievers”, peoples of all faiths, as Ms. Angelou states. And what is this “Peace” of which she writes?
Louder than the explosion of bombs…
Not just the absence of war. But true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.
Illustrated in a folksy style that includes both animals and people in snowy landscapes moving to congregate for a community gathering, Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem is a wonderful poem to read aloud as a family and reflect on how we can promote peace in our family, our community, our world and with nature. Or better yet, listen to the accompanying CD of Maya Angelou reading the poem while savoring Johnson & Fancher’s illustrations.
A Note about Craft:
This picture book was a stand-alone poem before being illustrated. As the creator of a stand-alone poem, Ms. Angelou was tasked with creating visual images for her listeners. And yet the poem begins with a sound, “Thunder rumbles.” This is a wonderful reminder to consider all of our readers’ & listeners’ senses, and not just sight. Perhaps, too, Ms. Angela is specifically calling us to listen carefully to what follows. By including sounds and senses other than sight in our first lines, perhaps we, too, can prime our readers to consider the entire experience evoked by our words and images.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!