Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo. illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (Canada) - (USA)

Pages: 32
Ages: 5+
Finished: Oct. 2, 2010
First Published: 2007 (new edition 2010)
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: children's, picture book, Christmas
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

The week before Christmas, a monkey appeared on the corner of Fifth and Vine.

Acquired: Received a review copy from the publisher.

Reason for Reading: I am a fan of the author.

This is a lovely Christmas picture book that, aside from a religious aspect, captures the true essence of Christmas. First of all, the illustrations are absolutely breathtaking paintings done in acrylic gouache. They place the story in the past sometime, but it is not until we see the photograph of the man in uniform do we place the story as being during, World War II. This book is worthy for its pictures alone. Yet, it has a text equally breathtaking to match. The story of a little girl who has compassion for the organ grinder she sees across the street each day, wondering where they go at night. The mother has no time for the girl's interest in the man, understandably so, under her circumstances. But when the girl stays up late one night and finds out that they live on the street, she sees the sadness in the man's eyes and invites him to church to watch her Christmas Pageant. At first it does not look as if the man will show up and the girl, playing an angel cannot get her lines out. But when she sees him enter the church she boldly cries "I bring you tidings of Great Joy!" Later, we see the organ grinder happily talking to the mother at a reception in the church hall. A heartwarming, touching story for the Christmas season which I think shows a great response to Christ's words "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Matt 25:40


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