Oranges, Perdrioles, and the Six Books of Christmas

When I was a child I always found an orange in my best pair of shoes on Christmas Day.

The tradition went back to my parents’ own childhood when oranges were a rarity and thus a treat. I imagine that in grey, damp Normandy the fruit also symbolized sun and warmth, lacking there in the winter season. The oranges of my childhood came from Africa or Spain, and we only ate them in the winter.

Oranges, of course, have been part of my children’s daily life in the U.S., so I’ve never tucked one in their Christmas shoes. Instead, I’ve always slipped a book.

Often bought at the last minute since I am a late holiday shopper. Yep, I know. It’s not always good. This is how it happens.

In the fall, I envision myself browsing leisurely on a crisp midweek early December morning, a large coffee mug in one hand and a thoughtful gift list in the other. In reality, I start to gather ideas way too late and end up changing them, as we get closer to Christmas.

Though I am a late shopper I enjoy holiday special events. Last weekend, for example, I attended a Holiday Pop concert which ended with The Twelve Days of Christmas.

As it has been for most American things, I discovered, years ago through my American-schooled children, that The Twelve Days of Christmas is an American holiday classic.

Embed from Getty Images

The Holiday Pop offered a particularly successful rendition of the song, thanks to the amazing singer and orchestra. This moment triggered a blog post idea. I will write a “Twelve Books for Christmas” post, I thought.

But I managed to also be late for this plan.

However, when I checked the origin of the legendary song I discovered two facts.

  • The gifts to the “true love” are not given twelve days before Christmas but from Christmas Day to January 5th.
  • The song is credited for having British but also French origins, although the gifts in the French version are offered over the course of twelve months and not twelve days.

Intrigued, I dug a little more and found out that the partridge, called perdrix in French, is also included in the list of gifts. The French title is Une Perdriole, which I assume is a small partridge.

Here is a link to a version that includes the lyrics. Even if you understand some French, it can be a challenge to follow the song without them. I was myself a little lost between the names of these strange gifts offered to the “true love” in  The Twelve Days of Christmas🙂

In the end, as you see, I was not late after all, but I still decided to downsize my“Twelve Books for Christmas.”

So here is my “Six Books for Christmas,” in case you are also late, six days before Christmas.

Or if like me you always slip a book inside a loved one’s pair of shoes or … stocking.

For Little Ones

Aliens Get the Sniffles Too Ahhh-Choo!

Written by Katy Duffield and illustrated by K.G. Campbell

Aww… Little Alien is sick. Even with his parents’ extra care and out of space medicine, little alien is not feeling 100% himself. Until a loving puppy finds out what can pull a smile on little alien’s face again. Text and illustrations are equally filled with humor and tenderness. A unique twist on a plain cold.

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth

Written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Such a gorgeous picture book! Both text and illustrations tap into the emotions that trigger a child’s birth. Love the author’s unique take on a baby’s place on earth. This picture book is so perfect that I offered it to a friend of mine who just gave birth to a baby. I could simply not find anything more appropriate to welcome a new human being on our planet.

For Middle Graders

Like her maman my #1 daughter loved fiction from day one, but # 2 wanted “true stories.” With her I discovered the world of nonfiction. There were less books in the 1990s for the lovers of true stories than currently. So for the child in your life who also favors nonfiction over fiction, stop by Jennifer Swanson’s website. I’m postitive that you will find more than one book to satisfy this kid. Since 2017 has been a remarkably important year for women, I especially like Cool Women Who Work With Animals.

Me and Marvin Gardens

Written by Amy Sarig King

I already reviewed this book, since I’ve read every new novel from the author. She’s brilliant and you can never go wrong if you select one of her numerous books crafted with talent and heart for any teen in your life. I love them all. This first-ever written middle grade novel is highly enjoyable and yet cleverly layered and very moving.

For Teens

The Librarian of Auschwitz

Written by Antonio Iturbe and translated by Lilit Thwaites

Based on the true life of a fourteen-year-old girl prisoner at Auschwitz who becomes a secret librarian there for the sake of books and humanity. I heard of the book from a blogger. As dark as the topic is, the story is filled with the best of human traits. A must-read for teens and adults alike.

For Grown-Ups

Gold Fame Citrus

Written by native California author Claire Vaye Watkins, it’s an exceptionally well written, bone chilling and amazingly timely dystopian novel about drought and the human thirst for more than water. It will particularly hit home for California residents. My French blogger friend told me that the novel is translated in French under the title Les Sables de L’Armagosa.


Now, even if your holiday shopping is finished, your gifts wrapped and hidden, remember that the Twelve Days of Christmas start on Christmas Day until January 5th 🙂

Which is when I will see you on your blog and mine, since I’m hitting the pause button until then.


I wish EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU a beautiful Holiday Season.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Los Posadas, or any other holiday dear to your heart, enjoy this special time of the year with the people you love. Even those well chosen gifts cannot match these shared moments.

I also wish you a healthy, happy New Year!




  1. Joyeuses fêtes de Noël 🙂

  2. Joyeux Noël 🎄

  3. Books are a wonderful gift for people at any age.

  4. We used to always get an orange in our stocking at Christmas Evelyne – I don’t know that children today would appreciate that, so the book is a good idea 🙂 This is a lovely idea to share your 6 books for Christmas and I wish you a joyful one full of good stories!

    • Oh, this is so nice to read that you also got an orange, Andrea! For some reason, I thought it was more of a thing of my parents’ generation, quite deprieved during WWII.
      Yeah, most kids, at least in the western world, would probably find it odd. But a book? Guaranteed to be a hit. I had fun playing on my version of the Twelve Days of Christmas 🙂
      Merry Christmas! Happy 2018! See you then!

  5. Have a wonderful Christmas, you and all of yours! I found “The Blindspot” on Audible and it is my next book. Thank you!

    • Thank you, Marilyn. Happy Hanukkah to you! I’d love to know how you find The Blindspot when you’re finished listening. I’m also curious to know how they will deal with the exercises part. See you in 2018!

  6. Books are always a good idea, Evelyne! Thanks for the recommendations. Peggy and I always give each other books for Christmas. And this is fun… when we got married, we listed books instead of the traditional wedding gifts. A very happy holiday to you and your family! –Curt

    • Oh, I LOVE your wedding list! We didn’t want one, but now that I read about yours, I regret 🙂
      Books are such a big part of my life. What what I do without them? More importantly who would I be without them? I’d rather not think about it.
      Merry Christmas to you and Peggy. I hope that you will both get a few good reads in your stockings this year.

  7. Behind the Story says:

    Beautiful sentiments, Evelyne. I’ve always loved the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. The gifts are so evocative–calling birds, ladies dancing, lords a leaping … and the slow singing of “five gold rings.” Can’t you just see it all!

    This Christmas we’re all reading the same YA book, “Wonder,” so we can talk about it with my nine-year-old grandson. I see in your stack one of my favorite books, A Gentleman in Moscow.

    Have a wonderful Christmas.

  8. Bonnes fêtes de fin d’année en famille! btw, our most precious gifts are not material “stuff”, but: good health, family, books and “old” friends… 🙂

  9. We both love our books for Christmas and oranges too, it seems! We always got an orange in the bottom of our stockings for Christmas, along with a few nuts 🙂 Merry Christmas dear Evelyne and a very Happy New Year and see you soon! 🙂 xxx

  10. Books and oranges ? Great, specially for Christmas! Have a nice break, sometimes the pause button is necessary to recharge batteries!

  11. Oranges and books! Always! Happy Christmas!

    • Yes! Hope your Christmas was merry and that the New Year will be good to you. I’m looking forward to reading more of your book reviews, even though they trigger too many new book to read 🙂

  12. The twelve days of Christmas were always English when I grew up !!!
    Your orange rang a real bell… we always had an orange at the bottom of our stockings when I was small, because during the war and rationing, Christmas was the only time we ever saw an orange and it was a magic and exotic treat !!!

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