Who is Stealing the Twelve Days of Christmas

Last updated Monday, December 3, 2007

Author: Martha Freeman
Date of Publication: 2003
ISBN: 0823417883
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Dec. 2007

Synopsis: From Publisher's Weekly: Freeman (The Year My Parents Ruined My Life) cooks up a lightweight but merry mystery. The chipper narrator, Alex Parakeet, lives on Chickadee Court, famous in Alex's small college town for its 12 houses that annually display items from the famous Christmas carol ("My family is seven swans a-swimming," he explains). But this year there is fowl play: the birds on neighbors' yards-partridge, goose, calling bird, etc.-disappear and then reappear one by one. Alex and his spunky best friend Yasmeen set out to crack the case while Alex's police detective mother is busy investigating a theft at a toy store. Although readers will catch on quickly that the two crimes are connected, Freeman pulls out a clever and unexpected solution. Breezy dialogue, some madcap moments and the boy's endearing rapport with his parents add up to a festive read.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Ask if anyone knows the song. Sing/read "The Twelve Days of Christmas" song, located at the front of the book. Explain that these are the 12 days after Christmas and continue through the New Year.
•  Look at the map. Ask the kids to identify the birds/houses with the 12 days poem.

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Do you like collecting toys?
•  Who do you think is stealing the birds?
•  Write down a CLUE LIST. Include SUSPECTS, MOTIVE, and suspicions. Discuss if you can blame someone just because they are so and so (liked, not liked, how they act, how they look, etc)
•  Do you think the two mysteries are connected?
•  Do you think the cat is really a detective?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a list of all things a good detective would need: magnifying glass? gloves? powder and brush for fingerprinting?
•  Make a list for what you look for in the crime scene: footprints? fingerprints? clothes?
•  Draw a mouse with big pink ears.
•  Draw a picture of your own Chickadee Court using your own imagination.
•  Draw a picture of how you would want to decorate your house/yard for Christmas.
•  Cut out geese, doves, birds, swans, hens and other 12 days of Christmas items.
•  Draw Luau as a detective.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!