Things I’ve Read Recently (119): Random Christmas kids books I Found in my house
This is a series where I look at my old Waiting on Wednesday posts and talk about if I actually ever did read the book, if I liked it if I did, and if I haven’t, would I or not. That kind of thing. I think it’s an interesting idea, and I hope you do, too. Sometimes they’re themed.
Sometimes while I’m going through my bookshelves, I decide to pull all the Christmas-themed books and read them because… why not?
What Child Is This? by Caroline B. Cooney
Published: Sometime in 1997
Genre: Contemporary YA
Page Count: 147 plus an about the author and stuff
Part of a series? Nope
Got via: Library reject
Summary (from goodreads): Not everyone is lucky at Christmas. Some people would call 16-year-old Liz Kitchell and her family truly fortunate, but it doesn’t feel that way to her. It seems that only a miracle can give 8-year-old Katie her holiday wish. She wants a family, something she does not have as a foster child.
As for 17-year-old Matt, he too is in a foster home and is finally letting himself feel a sense of belonging. When he allows himself to do a good deed for Katie, he doesn’t realize what would happen. Is the spirit of Christmas strong enough to grant the impossible?
Thoughts: This is kind of cheesy but I enjoyed it probably more than I should have. I read this as a kid, and expected it to not age well, but it actually did as long as you know what you’re going into here. Think Hallmark movie. It’s very heartwarming.
And for it being written in 1997, I respect how it dealt with some of the deeper issues. It definitely took them seriously, even if some of the details maybe aren’t perfect. I don’t think you’re going to get a lot of, like, education about the foster system or anything from this, but it felt surprisingly nuanced for such a short book.
Also ngl the ending made me cry a little. It’s sappy as heck and I cried. It made me feel Christmas-y.
Representation: Not really.
Content notes: There’s a fair amount of talk about the death of a baby, and a child is in danger of dying at one point in the book.
Oh, and on a scale of 1 to Jesus, this is like… middle levels of religious/Christian. It’s there, but I liked the way it was handled.
Here Comes the Holidays! Stories and Poems (There is no information on who compiled this anywhere)
Published: January 1st, 2005 by Scholastic
Genre: Middle grade anthology
Page Count: 107
Part of a series? Nope
Got via: Secondhand
Summary (from goodreads): Look inside for holiday stories and poems to read again and again!
Two poems by Jack Prelutsky
Zombies Don’t Make Christmas Candy by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones
Meadow Mouse and the Christmas Tree Adventure by Megan McDonald
The Christmas Camel by Marisa Montes
Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Harambee by Stephanie Calmenson
Harry’s Horrible Holiday Gift a radio play by Suzy Kline
A Soldier’s Christmas by Sue Wright
Wally’s Christmas in the City by Barbara Seuling… and more!
Thoughts: Honestly I found this while I was cleaning out my book collection and I thought it might be fun so I figured I’d toss it into this post and I have regrets. It isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever read, but I was underwhelmed. This is just… okay. Nothing is particularly special in here.
I liked the Jack Prelutsky poems and the Bailey School Kids short story, but everything else was kind of meh. It was also a lot more heavy-handed with the religion than I expected. Like I know I probably sound goofy but when I pick up a book with Santa on the cover, I don’t expect to read a story from the POV of one of the three Wise Men’s camel.
I’m gonna pass this along. An actual child would probably get a lot more out of this than me.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Published: This edition is from Avon Camelot in 1973
Genre: Contemporary MG
Page Count: 80 plus ads for other books
Part of a series? This is the first of three, actually
Got via: It’s a library reject in surprisingly good shape
Summary (from goodreads): The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world. They lied and stole and smoked cigars (even the girls) and talked dirty and hit little kids and cussed their teachers and took the name of the Lord in vain. So it surprised just about everybody when they decided to take part in the town’s Christmas pageant. The Herdmans had never heard of the Christmas story, but the way they interpreted it, you’d think the story of Jesus came right out of the F.B.I. files. (They called the Wise Men a bunch of dirty spies.) It was a Christmas pageant to remember.
Thoughts: I think this is a book you need to have nostalgia for to enjoy. It has over four stars on goodreads and all the reviews are like “I can’t read this without crying” and I’m just like… eh? And it’s quite a popular book so maybe I just didn’t get it. I’m also not Christian, so the magic of the Christmas story thing doesn’t do a whole lot for me.
I also really disliked the way this book talked about fat bodies. It’s really cruel and I would not recommend this to a child. And it’s really heavy on the animal cruelty.
The Christmas Doll by Elvira Woodruff
Published: November 1st, 2000 by Scholastic
Genre: Historical MG
Page Count: 151 plus an about the author
Part of a series? Nope
Got via: Yard sale I think – it’s secondhand
Summary (from goodreads): Lucy and Glory are orphaned sisters with no real place to call home. Only their memories of a beautiful doll named Morning Glory brighten their bleak lives. When a deadly fever sweeps through the workhouse where the girls live, Lucy and Glory flee to the mean streets of London.
One day the girls find an old battered doll that Glory senses is their beloved Morning Glory. But Morning Glory is no ordinary doll–the girls learn that she has magical powers that will change their lives in amazing ways.. With the help of the doll, the sisters discover the true meaning of the Christmas spirit.
Thoughts: Wait, why was this kind of awesome? Okay, so, storytime. I actually owned this book as a kid. I bought it from a Scholastic book order when I was a kid, and I loved it and I read it a bunch of times. But we moved across the country and I had to leave it, and honestly I was pretty bummed out and kind of regretted it. Then just recently I found a copy of it that was in nice shape and I was more excited than I probably should be at my age.
Rereading it as an adult, I did not expect it to hold up at all, but it really did! The writing is really good – it’s obviously written to be approachable for a child, but it very much does not talk down to them. Reading this aloud with a child would be a treat, honestly. The writing is much more complex than I expected it to be, with a lot of really great word choices and wonderful descriptions. You can practically feel how cold Lucy and Glory are.
This reminds me a lot of A Little Princess, but like the 90s movie more even than the book. It’s just got the same vibes. Dolls, orphans, mild child abuse. But with a Christmas slant! It’s slightly religious – Lucy prays a couple times – but not very much. They don’t talk about Jesus or anything. The moral of the story is just “giving to others is good”.
I’m actually really impressed by this! It’s a little cheesy and predictable if you’ve seen literally any Christmas movie ever, but it’s sweet and it feels very Christmas-y. This remains a fave.
Representation: Not unless you count orphans.
Content notes: Children are dropping like flies in this book. The, like, second page has a kid die. It’s fairly dark for a book about dolls.
Well, that was fun! What were your favourite Christmas books as a kid?
I also own the sequel of this and I think I’m actually going to give away both of them. I don’t think I need to own them. Honestly I have no interest in reading the sequel or re-reading this.
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