7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #261, the Christmas 2011 Edition:
Featuring Stephen Costanza

h1 December 25th, 2011 by jules


“On that long-ago Christmas Day, the morning sun rose strong and bright through the window. With each ray of sunlight the spider’s spinnings and weavings began to shimmer and glimmer like a tapestry of gold and silver. A humble mother and her children stood in silent wonderment at the miraculous sight before them….
This was Christmas. Christmas was here.”

(Click to enlarge and see entire spread)

Welcome to 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks, a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.

Well, it’s Christmas Day, so to those of you who celebrate it: Merry Christmas, and I raise my cup of hot cocoa to you. (It may or may not be laced with some Kahlúa.)

Since it’s a busy, present-filled, head-exploding kind of day for my own daughters (the seven-year-old was particularly fun to shop for, since she wanted “books, art supplies, and journals”), I’m just here to wish you a Merry Christmas and then head on my way — and to share some art, of course.

Today’s illustration comes from Trinka Hakes Noble’s A Christmas Spider’s Miracle, illustrated by Stephen Costanza (Sleeping Bear Press, September 2011), which Kirkus describes as an “appealing story with a magical aura spun by the shimmering illustrations and memorable story.” Shimmering, indeed. This is a contemporary adaptation of a Ukrainian folktale about one bleak winter, one impoverished mother of three, living in a small cottage in the Ukraine, and one mother spider “who knew nothing of Christmas.” The mother spider had established her home in a small fir tree, as she knew it wasn’t safe to live in a house. When the human mother, late into the night on Christmas Eve, brings that fir in to her “tumbledown cottage”—the only gift she can give her children—the mother spider brings the family her own unique and particularly lovely present, as you can see in the illustration above.

I hope everyone, no matter what you celebrate and where you are, is having a happy day. I’m feeling kicky for the health and happiness of my children and that I’m fortunate enough to give them a present or two on Christmas Day. How about you?

* * * * * * *

A CHRISTMAS SPIDER’S MIRACLE. © 2011 by Trinka Hakes Noble. Illustrations © 2011 by Stephen Costanza. Published by Sleeping Bear Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Image reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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14 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #261, the Christmas 2011 Edition:
Featuring Stephen Costanza”

  1. I attended a beautiful Christmas eve service with friends of more than 30 years and their daughter last night complete with a living Nativity and a candlelight singing of Silent Night. I feel fortunate to have a home, a wonderful calling in the field of school librarianship for almost 34 years now (and still employed when so many certified people are being replaced), a beautiful loving chocolate lab, Xena, a crackling fire in the fireplace, a cup of tea, homemade lemon bread and loads of virtual friends who enjoy and love what I do. Best wishes Jules and thanks for all you do. I really enjoyed your article on 2012 and children’s books.


  2. We live on the Bois Forte Reservation in northern Minnesota and there is a Chippewa legend that tells of a spider weaving its beautiful web in a Christmas tree! Interesting to hear it here too as a Ukranian folktale!


  3. Jules, I read A Christmas Spider’s Miracle, what a wonderful tale. The pictures are so beautiful. I hope your Christmas is joyful. 7-y-o’s are a blast to by for, agreed!
    Margie, I’ve been a teacher librarian for the same amount of time and so agree. My kicks include:
    Yesterday was spent w/ daughter’s family and the joy of watching the oldest grandgirl’s two older half sisters as they opened autographed YA books along with grandgirl. And grandgirl squealed in delight with her presents. The joy of simplicity, love, and peace. This online community. See you in the new year.


  4. Margie, merry Christmas! I think readers like you are extra kicky.

    K. Lasley: Neat. I didn’t know that it was a Chippewa legend as well. It was the first time I’d ever heard the tale. I wonder how far back it goes … And I wonder if Farida Dowler knows. She is an excellent storytelling resource.

    Jone, merry Christmas! Hear, hear to the online community! Enjoy the time with your grandchildren!


  5. Thank you for posting, today, Jules! (That 7-Imp “works” on a Christmas Sunday is yet one more feature distinguishing it from, say, municipal trash collections. :) )

    [You must know, btw, that as soon as I saw the proper nouns "Christmas" and "Costanza" in the title I had to zip over here, expecting a Festivus allusion. This comment will have to suffice, I guess.]

    I hope you and your whole households — Jules and all Kickers — have a lovely day today, and look forward to all the new sights and sounds and feelings of the coming year’s kicks. This is such a great place to come by on a Sunday, isn’t it?


  6. John: Well now. That hadn’t even occurred to me — the Festivus thing, that is. Funny.

    Even though it’s supposed to be kicky on Sundays, folks are welcome to complain, too.

    Merry Christmas to you!


  7. Love the idea of connecting Christmas to nature in this way, and love the wonder on the faces of the children as they discover that beautiful gift.

    K. Lasley, I’m from Thunder Bay, which is right above Minnesota. Used to go to Chippewa pow-wows when I was little.

    So well said, Jules, about feeling fortunate. Smells of chicken and dumplings, 8 yo reading his new book (for hours!) and 6 yo learning how to use her kid-sized sewing machine. Peaceful music playing, ad grandparents on the way.

    Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all!


  8. I’m always intrigued by spiderwebs; neat that this tale has echoes in two cultures. I like how the illustrated tree seems to glow on the page.

    Wishing you, Jules & Kickers, a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Joyous Kwanza or Delightful Day-Off as the shoe or the stocking fits. My 7 Kicks of Christmas: (Let’s see if I can do a ‘Little Willow’.)
    – a thoughtful friend
    – guessing right
    – being “oh!” surprised
    – gastronomic traditions
    – a moment of awe
    – conquering new-fangled gadgetry
    – a stack of books to read

    (Nope. Too wordy. I need a Kicks’ editor. Ha!)

    Back to the bustle now… Have a wonderful holiday break everyone!


  9. So, so cool that we al stop by even on Christmas. Saw Hugo today. Perfect movie to see.


  10. Merry Merry Christmas everyone!

    Love the illustrations and that the tale is one that is indifferent cultures.

    My big kick, spending Christmas eve with friends in Oregon wine country, and waking this morning before sunrise to see the fog rolling in over the vineyards. It was so gorgeous and peace-inducing. Made me feel so very lucky to be there to see it.

    Have a lovely holiday!


  11. Jessica, sounds like you found the perfect gift for your children. Enjoy the time with the parental units!

    Denise, I’m afraid wordy ‘ol me would be a bad editor. Where’s Little Willow when you need her? Sounds like your bustly holiday was a good one.

    Jone, loved Hugo. So so much. When he looks up at conductor guy and says, I don’t know why I lost my dad and I don’t know why I’m alone, I had to stop myself from sobbing right then and there.

    Rachel, wow. Sounds so wonderful. Drink some wine for me.

    Happy holidays, all!


  12. p.s. I can’t believe ANYone stopped by on Christmas Day. Thanks!


  13. Fly-by posting! HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all of the Imps and their precious ones!

    Thanks, Denise and jules. :)

    Anyone in need of a laugh should watch Catherine Tate and David Tennant. It will never get old.


  14. Happy holidays, Little Willow!


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