Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Days of Christmas

McKowen, Scott (Illustrator)
Firefly Books 2013. 32 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9781770852310 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Dewey: 782.42
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

point of view, recurring patterns, setting, structures and features

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

A cumulative Christmas carol famously lists gifts bestowed upon the beloved on each of the 12 days after Christmas, until the end of the holiday season. From the festive to the silly to the overwhelmingly aviary, “my true love gave to me”: drummers, pipers, dancers, maids a-milking, gold rings and a whole flock of assorted birds, including the “partridge in a pear tree” that closes each verse. Each additional gift is written in larger font and in red, highlighting both the carol’s repetition and accrual.

Each day and each new gift is accompanied on the facing page by a framed illustration that represents the “six geese a-laying”—a Canada goose standing over a clutch of eggs in a nest—the “three French hens” pecking in their coop, and so forth. The scored texture and muted inks of the scratchboard engravings look old-fashioned, as do the numbers hand-lettered on each image. The book itself is artful, with a cloth cover sporting apparent sewing at the spine and a smaller format than usual.

A lengthy afterword by the artist offers insight into this book’s 12-year collaborative creative process, and into the influence that began in the artist’s childhood, with his mother’s annual silkscreen original Christmas cards. Most of the visual inspiration he found in the region surrounding his hometown of Stratford, Ontario, while the festive spirit came from the lucky recipients of 12 years of handmade Christmas cards.

  •  

    Discuss what you know about this popular Christmas song. Can you remember what the 12 days stand for?

  •  

    Look carefully at the illustrations as you read. Which ones surprise you or are different from other versions of this song?

  •  

    Read the afterword by the artist to understand more about his illustrations. Create a series of Christmas or winter pictures for cards. Use photographs or an art medium to produce your series. Write a short text in the style of the author’s notes to explain your choices.

  •  Read, view or listen to other versions of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. Choose a theme that is interesting to you and rewrite the text to reflect that theme.
  •  

    Discuss what you know about this popular Christmas song. Can you remember what the 12 days stand for?

  •  

    Explore how this book is made (smaller format, cloth cover, sewing at the spine). Explore the pictures. What are the names of the Canadian birds and other concepts found in the illustrations? Do these represent your reality?

  •  

    Read the author’s notes at the end. Discuss how having a concept is important in a creative process.

  •  

    In small groups, identify a concept that would represent you or your area. Create a series of Christmas pictures for cards. Use photographs or an art medium to produce your series. Write a short text in the style of the author’s notes to explain your choices.

  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To use creativity
  • Visual Arts