Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer,
The Christmas Candle Book
(Red Rock, 2004)

At first glance, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer's The Christmas Candle Book may seem like little more than a very thick Christmas card. That ephemeral art form does form half the book, as illustrations from 29 cards serve as inspiration, illustration and Zen garden for their accompanying original poems.

Trommer has collected a fine assortment of vintage cards, with illustrations ranging from elegant art deco candlesticks to warm Victorian family portraits. And always, there are the candles themselves, the bright spark burning in both the picture and the words around it.

Trommer makes good use of this artistic variety, letting her poems grow as they will. There are brief moments of introspection and space for a bright meditative "Creed." Some are inexplicably touching, like the simple ad for a "Starter Angel," accompanying the photo-card of a round-cheeked candleholder in wings and halo.

While using card art as inspiration, these poems are far removed both in spirit and execution from the usual sugary sentiment of holiday cards. There are moments of true warmth here, in a brief snatch of verse of "The Gift" or the fond recollection on "The Daughter's New Clothes." Always, they shine with the familiar warmth of Christmas time. There's even a nod to the silliness of the season, brought by the dancing sprites in "Silly Old Wives' Tales."

Perhaps the best part of Trammer's book, given the season, is that these are poems best for sharing. They all sound well read aloud, and the pictures, though small, are clear and simple enough to see in a reading circle. There's ample choice here to read one a night, and variety enough to go through them all in one sitting without boredom. Whether as a family advent calendar or a private moment of Christmas spirit, The Christmas Candle Book is sure to bring warmth to your holiday season.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 24 December 2004

Buy it from