I have long been a fan of Margeurite de Angeli and try to keep an eye out for her books at library sales or online. Yesterday I noticed our copy of The Lion in the Box was laying out on a table. I hadn't yet read it aloud to my kids but noticed the Christmas tree on the cover. When I mentioned that to my daughter she said, "I've read that one 5 or 6 times." I decided it must be a great story for her read it that many times! It's not a very long book--only 62 pages and some of those pages are illustrations.
The story (based on true events) is about a widowed mother and her 5 children and some of the events in their life during one Christmas season. Mother has to work to make ends meet and the children do what they can to help out. The children know their mother cannot afford to give them toys at Christmas but they still find ways to be joyful in their family. Then on Christmas Eve, a mysterious box arrives. You'll want to read this little treasure to find out what's inside!
It was fun to read about the thrifty ways this family found to decorate their small Christmas tree. One trash day as the older girls were on their way home, they excitedly found a discarded newspaper. This "treasure" was quickly repurposed into the makings for a paper chain for the tree. I thought it would be fun to dig into our own hefty stash of newspapers and have my kids make a chain for our tree.
One evening Mother comes home very excited to teach her daughters how to make a paper three-dimensional star (she'd acquired some butcher paper from a kind butcher). A small pattern is included in the book but you can also print off a free template from Enchanted Learning. You can use old Christmas cards for this project or just have your children design their own picture (prior to assembling).
Some libraries may still have this title, or you could try to borrow it through Interlibrary Loan. If you'd like your own copy, it can be purchased through Amazon or AbeBooks.