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The Twelve Days of Christmas

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“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is sung in churches, houses, and concert halls throughout the Christmas season. It would be hard to imagine a Christmas celebration without it. From the partridge in the pear tree to the five golden rings to the twelve drummers drumming, carolers enjoy taking turns singing different verses.

Gennady Spirin’s sumptuous paintings bring new life and spectacular beauty to this classic song, making it a gift to be treasured at Christmastime. An Illustrator’s Note is included which addresses the song’s origin and history.

32 pages, Hardcover

First published October 1, 2009

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About the author

Gennady Spirin

70 books40 followers
Gennady Spirin (1948- ) is a Russian painter and children's book illustrator. A graduate of the Surikov School of Fine Art in Moscow and the Moscow Stroganov Institute of Art, he is noted for his unique style of watercolor illustration. He has illustrated works by classic authors such as William Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy as well as children's books by contemporary celebrities. His oil paintings hang in public and private galleries throughout the world, and he has been profiled by The New York Times. His depiction of The Nutcracker was selected by Saks Fifth Avenue as the centerpiece of their famous Christmas display in 1997 and 1998. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992, Spirin immigrated with his wife and sons to the United States, ultimately settling in Princeton, NJ, where he has lived and worked since.

(source: Wikipedia)

Alternate spellings:
Gennadij Spirin
Gennadi Spirin
Генадий Спирин

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5 stars
72 (46%)
4 stars
49 (31%)
3 stars
29 (18%)
2 stars
4 (2%)
1 star
2 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 30 reviews
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,174 reviews187 followers
December 20, 2021
One of the most popular carols of the holiday season, The Twelve Days of Christmas provides the text for this beautiful new picture-book from master-illustrator Gennady Spirin. No stranger to Christmas-themed artwork, Spirin - who, the dust-jacket blurb informs us, was born on Christmas day - has previously worked on The Night Before Christmas , The Christmas Story , Joy to the World , and We Three Kings . Here he takes on the classic song celebrating the days from Christmas to Epiphany.

Each verse, which chronicles another gift given to the singer, is paired with a lovely, full-page pencil and watercolor illustration. The palette, as always, is rich, and the decorative borders surrounding the text, charming. Unfortunately, Spirin chooses to include the entire range of gifts in each painting, no doubt in an effort to reflect the text itself, necessitating an increasingly "zoomed out" effect. I appreciated the earlier illustrations, with their superior detail, much more than the later ones, and couldn't help but wish that Spirin had chosen to omit earlier gifts, in his depiction of later verses. Still, this is a beautiful edition, and with the inclusion of an informative afterword about the history of the song, as well as its sheet music, it would make a wonderful gift for the Christmas carol lover!
Profile Image for Linda Lipko.
1,904 reviews43 followers
January 27, 2020
Exquisitely beautiful, I read this book over again. Gennady Spirin is one of my favorite illustrators. He is a supremely talented artist. In this book, Spirin uses the well-known Christmas song and tale of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Starting with a partridge in a pear tree, he continues to building and luxuriously add the remaining eleven animals.

I keep all of Gennady Spirin's books because the artistic quality is matchless and incomparable.

Five Stars
Profile Image for Karina.
811 reviews60 followers
December 14, 2020
It’s the song illustrated. I liked it but it kind of get “too busy” with the many things true love gave to me. Baby enjoyed the song, don’t think he paid attention to pictures.
Profile Image for David.
187 reviews5 followers
December 24, 2019
My lovely wife read this outloud to me, it was a lovely book.
Profile Image for ♥♣Mary♦♠ If She So Pleases.
1,326 reviews5 followers
December 12, 2020
A very beautifully illustrated twelve days of Christmas. I really like how the new verses are set apart, somehow it makes the flow easier. I also like how this book is illustrated, great detail but not so much that you can see distinguishable features (on the people).

Profile Image for Bojan Tunguz.
407 reviews162 followers
December 11, 2012
"The Twelve Days of Christmas" is a well known Christmas-season song. It adds some dose of levity the twelve days between the Christmas day, December 25th, and the Epiphany on January 6th. Its origins are unknown, but in its familiar form can be traced to the late eighteenth century. It's an amusing song that might have been part of a game at some point. The gifts that are given seem quaint and even ridiculous, especially by today's standards. This ridiculousness was probably intended and the point of this song all along.

This books brings forth soem really remarkable, rich illustrations that go a long way to help us visualize the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas." The illustrations are vivid and very detailed. They are as beautiful as you will find in a children's book. However, there is not much to the book content-wise. It just contains the words of the song and the illustrations, with the sheet music and a brief history at the end. The illustrations help you visualise the sheer ridiculousness of the gifts given. If they were real they would not fit in anywhere but a royal court. (Or one of the Donald Trump's buildings. But I repeat myself.)

If you tend to play "The Twelve days of Christmas" at your home, then this book may help your little ones get a nice visual treat to go along. But on its own, aside from the illustrations, I don't find this book very interesting.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
319 reviews41 followers
December 11, 2012
I was very excited to receive this book in time for Christmas to share with a family I know--the parents met in Russian and they still speak Russian with their children. Knowing Gennady Spirin is from Russia, studied at the Moscow Art School, and illustrates some of the most beautiful Russian folktales, I thought this would be perfect for my friends.

Unfortunately, the subjects of the illustrations are not authentic to the Russian style but are more French in origin. But even that doesn't really hold true as the calling birds are tropical, the maids a milking appear to be from the British Middle Ages, and half of the drummers look to be from 1780's Russian. Then again, the lords and ladies look like they stepped out of Marie Antoinette's court. Not that I feel Spirin had to keep with his traditional Russian style, but I would have liked the illustrations to have a more cohesive cultural setting.

While the authenticity of the subject matter is disappointing,the illustrations are very beautiful and detailed. The author's notes at the end are also very interesting, and the sheet music at the end seems simple enough, although I haven't actually sat down at the piano to give it a try.

Instead, I would recommend Jan Brett's Scandinavian version or Laurel Long's more traditional illustrations.
6 reviews
January 18, 2021

I didn’t knew exactly what the Twelve Days of Christmas are until a few years ago, when my daughter listened to a LionGuard version of the song. She asks me why there are twelve days of Christmas and not only one, so I did my research and found out the story behind them.
They start in the first day of Christmas ( December 25th), as the song begins, and they end on January the 6th, that is called The Epiphany. A religious celebration in the Western Christianity, the day the 3 kings visits baby Jesus. In the Orthodox religion January 6th is called the Baptism of Jesus, that was performed by John the Baptiser in the Jordan river. It is one of the most important religious celebrations of the Orthodox year and it is said to be a very cold day of the winter. After this day we can take out all the Christmas decorations and the Christmas tree, sign that the Christmas is really over.
The song, that it is said to be originated in France, somewhere between 1500-1800, was first mentioned in a book in 1780s, as a memory game for children. The first child sang the first verse, the second child had to repeat the first verse and to add the second one and so on until the twelve verse. The child who would forget one or more verses would lose and be out of the game.
And because my daughter learned all the twelve verses of the LionGuard version I though she has to at least listen to the original song too.
So I bought her a very, very beautiful illustrated book, by Gennady Spirin, a russian painter and children’s book illustrator, bestknown for his depiction of the Nutcracker, The Velveteen rabbit or Little Red Riding Hood. He has a very unique way of painting and illustrating, using watercolors and colored pencil.
The book, called The Twelve Days of Christmas, was published in 2009 by Marshall Cavendish Corporation. The illustrations are so beautiful, is like looking at a paiting on each of the book’s page. The details, fine lines and colors are so lively and so gorgeous that it was a feast for the eye and soul to “read” this book.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Edwards.
4,996 reviews9 followers
March 11, 2020
i think if this was a real book, hand held one instead of how i read it through my kindle (i am curious, when they take a real book and make it into a kindle book does that mess it up ... is it much to hard to change it into a landscape style read? does that change the text and pictures? i think that really affects the books i have been reading lately ... some are really good but some are really horrible. i wonder if the author or whomever is doing this gets that?? does that or should that affect the review or rating u r giving ... i think so!! i mean that is a huge part ... if you can not read a book?? like usually when u read a kindle book u can increase the font size but in these reads u can not do that!! it is impossible??! i wonder??) ...it might be more easy to read ... reason for rating there ... the illustrations are amazing. just gorgeous!! it could be a perfect read if u could get the font bigger?? thinking? thinking? i wonder.
Profile Image for Angela Lambkin.
2,342 reviews20 followers
December 29, 2017
What a great old song brought to now with beautiful illustrations!

I liked the story and the illustrations but the font is so tiny that it cannot be easily seen to really enjoy it. Much less how is a person
To be able to read the music notes and play this sing if they had a
way to do so. These are my thoughts for why I have chosen to rate it as a four stars and for those ages 6-8. Great job Gennady
By Sunny.
Profile Image for Teresa A. Richardson.
86 reviews1 follower
December 26, 2017
12 Days of Color!

The illustrations in this book were just fabulous! Bright and cheery colors added to the design of each page, bringing the story to life as the reader meanders through the book in song song fashion.
Profile Image for Jo Burl.
164 reviews23 followers
December 10, 2018
Beautiful book

We all know the song, and perhaps the meaning behind the words. This a welcome and beautifully illustrated book. Each page would be a wonderful picture to hang on the wall. I’ll be looking for others from this author/illustrator.
Profile Image for Surfy.
271 reviews1 follower
December 8, 2021
Estuvo interesante porque no conocía toda la historia, sin embargo, esperaba más texto, pero me alegra haberla leído, no me quedé con las ganas.
Eso si, fue muy incómodo leerla en digital, la letra estaba diminuta.
Profile Image for Kat.
745 reviews1 follower
December 29, 2017
Lovely illustrations but they didn’t add anything to the song. I would like to read/look at other books by this illustrator.
530 reviews
December 29, 2018

A delightful read fun for the whole family. I enjoyed reading it to the family, my nieces and nephews where spell bound.

3 reviews
December 17, 2019

My boys and I enjoy this book more and more with each holiday season . It’s a must have in the Kindle library .
Profile Image for Set.
1,566 reviews
January 19, 2021
Lyrics to The Twelve Days of Christmas depicted by the beautiful illustrations of Spirin.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
4,205 reviews84 followers
December 11, 2021
The Twelve Days Of Christmas by Gennady Spirin – This is on kindle unlimited. The illustrations are gorgeous, and it is perfect for the Christmas season! Happy Holiday Reading!
Profile Image for Margaret Chind.
3,171 reviews219 followers
December 30, 2015
The other day we got a copy of Jesus: His Life in Verses from the King James Holy Bible and really enjoyed the artistry. Then I recalled that I also really liked a Goldilocks and the Three Bears version as well, so when I saw this picture book special for Christmas on a great bargain deal, I snatched the opportunity to add it to our shelves. It was perfect timing as in our curriculum with Memoria Press Kindergarten we were reading The Twelve Days of Christmas in the Jan Brett version, so being able to bring this one out and show my girls another illustrators take on the song was quite magical. They are so different, but both so grand.

Then if you recall we also enjoyed the new interpretation from Susan Jeffers in her The Twelve Days of Christmas . It is also beautiful, but not written in a way where you can sing it. This version from Gennady Spirin is definitely written in a fun way to sing it, which for us works quite well.

Profile Image for Amanda.
2,262 reviews10 followers
December 14, 2009
So beautifully illustrated. I need to find more of his books...

This was my son's first introduction to this song as well and now he recognizes it on my iTunes as the "song from the book". We also used the music in the back to play and sing on the piano. As we were reading, I always pointed out the next gift being given. I'll definitely look for this one again year after year.
Profile Image for Kristi.
14 reviews
December 18, 2016
This Christmas classic is a must have with its rhyme and illustrations. It contains a few paragraphs about where it possibly could have originated. But with its fun and catchy phrases and realistic illustrations, it's sure to be a favorite at your house.
Profile Image for Marybeth.
152 reviews5 followers
November 4, 2009
Lovely illustrations with sheet music at the back. Perfect holiday gif.
Profile Image for Jess Gill.
595 reviews8 followers
May 30, 2016
an illustrated version of the classic christmas song. illustrations felt a bit fancy for a children's book, but fit the nature of the song well.
450 reviews3 followers
October 8, 2015
Gorgeous illustrations. Includes an interesting note on the origins and history of the song.
Profile Image for Terry.
3,789 reviews51 followers
November 13, 2018
What a beautiful book. This is a coffee-table version of the well-known Christmas song. It is most definitely meant to be shared, but it isn't a book you give to young children to "play with." Read our review at the Reading Tub.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 30 reviews

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