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The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll Hardcover – September 11, 2007
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Starred Review, Booklist, September 15, 2007:
"Parents looking for books on sharing will find this an appealing exploration of the subject, teachers seeking picture books set during the Depression will find many details that bring the period to life. A gentle lesson that plays into the spirit of the holiday."
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2007:
“Full of humorous dialogue and scenes of realistic family life showing the close bonds within the family. Pinkney’s watercolor illustrations are masterful, as always…” - Kirkus Review
Review, The New York Times Book Review, December 2, 2007:
"An evocative book with a universal message."
About the Author
Patricia C. McKissack is the author of The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural, a Newbery Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Award Winner, and its companion, Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters, and other Wily Characters, an ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Book. Ms. McKissack has collaborated with Jerry Pinkney on two previous picture books: Goin’ Someplace Special, a Coretta Scott King Award Winner, and Mirandy and Brother Wind, a Caldecott Honor Book and a Coretta Scott King Award Winner. Her most recent book, Never Forgotten, was a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and received five starred reviews. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
Jerry Pinkney received the Caldecott Medal for his wordless retelling of The Lion and the Mouse. He has illustrated more than one hundred books, among them five Caldecott Honor books, including Mirandy and Brother Wind, written by Patricia C. McKissack; five New York Times Best Illustrated Books; and five Coretta Scott King Award winners. Some of his most beloved titles are The Talking Eggs, John Henry, The Ugly Duckling, Goin’ Someplace Special, and The Tortoise and the Hare. Mr. Pinkney lives in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, with his wife, author Gloria Jean Pinkney.
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The book opens with the frantic preparations for Christmas in a poor black family's home just before Christmas in the midst of the Great Depression. Even though the Pearson family was poor, Christmas always came to the Pearson house, but Santy Claus only came occasionally. In order for Santy Claus to come on Christmas the whole Pearson house must be cleaned and readied for Christmas. This included tearing off the faded newspapers which covered the inside walls of the home to keep out the cold winter air, and replacing them with fresh clean newspapers. Nella and her two sisters - Dessa and Eddy work real hard at replacing the newspapers. In the process Nella sees an advertisement on one of the sheets of newsprint. It was an ad for a Baby Betty doll. Nella wished for the impossible and her sisters let her know it. It was just simply too much to wish for a poor black family during the Great Depression.
Christmas morning comes and each of the Pearson girls receives a small sack filled with English walnuts, a peppermint candy stick, an orange and a box of raisins. No great prize compared to today's standards but to these poor kids in the midst of the Great depression it was a real treat! There was another great surprise this Christmas - a new "Baby Betty" doll to be shared between the three sisters. Nella, in a selfish attitude took possession of the doll and claimed it for herself and so did the other sisters. After some arguing, Nella took possession of the doll because she argued that she was the one who wanted the doll the most and that her sisters had said that it was silly to dream about something that you could never have in a million, zillion years. Nella also argued that she never gave up and even wrote a letter to Santy Claus. Nella's sisters finally reluctantly agreed that the doll belonged to her.
Nella proceeds to play with her "Baby Betty" doll all Christmas day and does not include her sisters. Her sisters get tired and leave to play and jump rope on their own. Eventually Nella discovers a very important lesson that things cannot replace love, friendship and fun with loved ones. You will want to read the book to see how it ends.
I would recommend this book for students in third grade or above. It teaches a very valuable lesson - material possessions pale in comparison to the love of family. This is especially a necessary and important lesson to learn during the Christmas season.
The Pearsons were such a close and loving family. I enjoyed seeing how hard Nella’s parents worked to make Christmas special for their daughters nearly as much as I liked watching the kids react to all of the surprises that were waiting for them after they opened their presents. This family found a way to make everything from cleaning their house to spending time together a cause for celebration.
While I completely agreed with the message of this story, it was a little heavy-handed. I was surprised by how quickly Nella’s opinion of the Baby Betty doll changed once she received it. It would have been nice for the main character to learn her lesson without growing tired of her new toy so quickly or changing her mind about it so soon.
This book was full of little details that made Nella’s world three-dimensional and beautiful. I actually read it a second time right after I finished it for the first time because I was so impressed with how much attention the author paid to everything from how siblings bicker when they can’t agree on something to how a parent reacts when their child makes a selfish decision.
The All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll was a charming story that I’d recommend to anyone who would like to be reminded about what really matters during the holiday season.
originally posted at long and short reviews
Most recent customer reviews
Best part: Sharing is more fun than hoarding. Ages 6-10.