[Spotlight] ‘The Broken Ornament’
Those who celebrate the Christmas holiday have either already started or are just now decking the halls and decorating the tree. A new children’s book explores the intimacy of a family coming together to decorate, while also facing nostalgia of times past and the promise of new memories to come. It only took the shatter of one Christmas ornament dropped by his daughter for author Tony DiTerlizzi to become inspired to write “The Broken Ornament.”
“All of a sudden, you hear that distinct sound, and it immediately took me back to being her age and dropping an ornament,” DiTerlizzi said in a phone interview last week. He will be presenting “The Broken Ornament” at Scuppernong Books, located at 304 S. Elm St. in Greensboro on Wednesday.
“We knelt down and looked at it, and I said, ‘it is OK if you accidentally break an ornament because a Christmas fairy is born.’ She smiled, I smiled, and we swept it to the side. It just kind of diffused the situation and my wife was like ‘that is your next book.’”
Published by Simon & Schuster for Young Readers, the story follows Jack, a rambunctious child eager to help his family decorate and celebrate “the best Christmas ever.” After dropping his mother’s fragile and sentimental ornament, Jack feels remorseful but is distracted by a fairy named Tinsel, who appears from the shards of glass. She helps Jack find the true meaning of Christmas and give his mother back an ornament more precious than the one he broke.
DiTerlizzi is a Caldecott Honor award-winner, author of New York Times Bestselling Spiderwick Chronicles and executive producer of the movie. “The Broken Ornament” is DiTerlizzi’s first Christmas book, and he said it was “one of the hardest books” he has ever written.
“I had to ask myself, what does Christmas mean to most of us living in America in the 21st century, and how that has changed from, perhaps, how it was when I was a kid or when my parents were kids,” he said.
DiTerlizzi said that parents spending quality time with their children over a book is better than staring at a screen. He believes the shared experience of reading together is “so incredibly bonding.” He hopes children and parents discover or rediscover their imagination while reading “The Broken Ornament.”
“I honestly feel that imagination is what could help us as a society as a whole,” he said. “Imagination is why the first explorers crossed the ocean, why we went to the moon, it is why we went to Mars. It could be potentially how we cure cancer or any other diseases that plague mankind. It could be a solution to climate change.”
Tony DiTerlizzi will be at Scuppernong Books on Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. presenting, reading and signing his book “The Broken Ornament.” He said he would also bring pop-out ornaments for attendees to make their own, just as Jack did in the story.
For more information about “The Broken Ornament” or Tony DiTerlizzi, visit his website.