Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Book Review: Jingle Bells: How the Holiday Classic Came to Be, by John Harris (Peachtree Publishers, 2011)
No matter what our religious affiliation, we all know the much-loved holiday song, Jingle Bells, a favorite not only for Christmas albums but also sung at every elementary school sing-along. But how did this famous song get written?
Author John Harris was inspired by a historic marker he saw on a visit to Savannah, Georgia, to do a little investigating as to the history of the classic tune. He saw a marker about the history of the song, written by James Pierpont, music director at the Unitarian Church in Savannah in the 1850's. This story is fictional, but inspired by actual facts. Harris imagines that Pierpont composed the song in the middle of a Savannah heat wave. Pierpont, in Harris' story, is an abolitionist, worried about violence surrounding his church because of their anti-slavery policies. He's homesick, too, for New England, and tries to explain to his young daughter what snow is like, and the sound of sleigh bells. Suddenly, he's inspired to write a new song for the Thanksgiving day concert at church!
llustrator Adam Gustavson's lively images enhance this charming book, a great read-aloud for the holiday season, especially for elementary school classes learning to sing this classic tune!
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.