Kwik Star Festival of Trees is underway, giving you a chance to purchase or bid on a nature-oriented basket made by me!

Festival is a fundraiser, after all, so everything you see there is for sale — trees, rooms, stockings and baskets assembled by people and companies in the Quad-Cities.

So here's what you'll get if you buy mine: A 500-piece puzzle of a snowy owl on a tree branch. Two games intended to familiarize young people with nature —  an insects-and-bugs card game and butterfly bingo. A pack of notecards with a bird on the cover. A butterfly coloring book, with 24 colored pencils. A finch feeder, with seeds to fill it. And one of my favorite nature books of all time, "The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating."

All items were purchased locally at Blevins Bird Shop and Art Gallery in the Village of East Davenport, and the Figge Art Museum.

CHRISTMAS STAMPS: In keeping with my tradition of reviewing the year's new Christmas postage stamps, I learned something new. The four-stamp offering called "The Snowy Day" features illustrations of an African-American child exploring and playing in the snow, based on a book of the same name, written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats.

In doing research, I learned that "The Snowy Day" was one of the first prominent 20th-century picture books centered on an African-American child, and in 1963, it won the Caldecott Medal for illustrating. Keats is credited with bringing multiculturalism into mainstream American children's literature.

As Keats said of the child named Peter, "my book would have him there simply because he should have been there all along."

In the stamps, Peter is wearing his signature red snowsuit, forming a snowball, sliding down a snow hill, making a snow angel and leaving footprints.

Another offering is called "Christmas Carols," consisting of four stamps each depicting a different song. There's a lamb for "Silent Night," a St. Nick and a child for "Jolly Old St. Nicholas," a harnessed horse for "Jingle Bells" and decorated cookies for "Deck the Halls."

There are no new religious stamps this year — by that I mean those depicting Jesus, or Jesus and Mary, or Jesus and Mary and Joseph — although at least two selections from past years are available.

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