Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Review: Cole Family Christmas by Jennifer Liu Bryan with Hazel Cole Kendle

"Christmas has always been a treasured time in my family. When I was growing up, my sister Ruble, the storyteller of our family, often spoke of a very special Christmas that took place when my father was working as a miner and our family was living in the town of Benham, Kentucky. I think back and wonder how, on a coal miner's wages and with so many mouths to feed, Papa and Mama managed to make that holiday both memorable and meaningful. The family never forgot the magic of that special Christmas." ~Hazel Cole Kendle

The Coles are a family of eleven in the winter of 1920. Mama and Papa Cole are raising nine children on a coal miner's salary. Money may be in short supply but there is plenty of love to go around. When a big catalog full of every item you can think of arrives, the children all write letters to Santa to tell him the one thing in the catalog that they would like the most. They all know that Mama & Papa can't afford fancy presents but it almost doesn't matter, the choosing and dreaming are so much fun.

As the Christmas season arrives, everyone is very excited about the big Christmas party thrown by the mining company on Christmas Eve. It is a fun and festive time, the highlight of the year, and the whole town participates. When a blizzard interrupts the event, Mama Cole and the kids head back up to their mountain cabin while Papa Cole must stay in town to work.

When the children awaken on Christmas morning they are relieved to find their Papa at home after being out in the blizzard all night. The presence of their father and the special gifts that are received that morning will show the family the true meaning of Christmas and they will cherish the memory all of their lives.

This wonderful story gives us a little glimpse into Christmas past, into a world long gone but whose values and dreams need to be remembered today. The chapter lengths are just right for reading aloud one chapter a night and the beautiful illustrations by Jenniffer Julich go perfectly with the story.

As I was reading, I was strongly reminded of The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder that were a beloved favorite of mine as a child. You will find the same strength of character, the rewards for hard work, the love of family, in this book.

I especially like the last page which shows a photograph taken of the Cole family in 1919, in front of their mountain cabin in Kentucky. "There are five living generations and 165 direct descendants of Mama and Papa Cole."

This book would make a delightful holiday gift for children of all ages.

Visit the book's website!


Cole Family Christmas is published by Next Chapter Press. ISBN 978-0-9816265-0-5

Order Cole Family Christmas from Amazon


Anonymous said...

I love the fact that this book is based on a true story.

The Tome Traveller said...

Me too. It is a heartwarming book!

Michele said...

I loved the Little House books when I was growing up. I've saved them all hoping that someday my daughter would love them as well. This looks like it would be a lovely holiday book that sets just the right tone for remembering what Christmas is really about. :)


Toni said...

I will be buying this one. I need to store up on my holiday treasure books. Thanks for the review.

Michele said...

By the way, Carey, I've nominated you for an award, which you can pick up here. :)

Michele said...

Okay, three comments in one post. I'm getting out of control here. Just wanted to throw some sympathy your way and hoping you made it out of LAX (we used to call those Gilligan Island trips).

caite said...

It sounds like a very sweet book. darn, I just need a kid to buy these books for.

Darlene said...

I just loved this book. It reminded me of Little House on the Prairie too. I'll be keeping this one to read each Christmas season.

tashiana said...

this still sounds prtty depressing lol but i get the whole miracle of christmas love hoo hah
but this is coming from a person who couldnt even get through a tv episode of little house
though i'm sure the books were better

Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.