"Ruble studied the round package carefully ... She hadn't really expected to receive the expensive, store-bought doll for Christmas, and now she understood that she didn't need it. Looking around at the smiling faces of her family as they waited for her to open her gift, she realized she was already perfectly happy." - Cole Family Christmas by Jennifer Liu Bryan with Hazel Cole Kendle
Nine children, one snowy Christmas, a goat named Hilda and two loving parents are the subjects in Cole Family Christmas, the perfect story to read-aloud and enjoy together as a family this Christmas. Based on actual events, the heartwarming story is set in the year 1920 in a small Kentucky mining town called Benham. Times are a little tough but love pulls the large mining family together one Christmas. Though they live a simple, non-extravagant life, the children still excitedly prepare for Christmas by paging through the Sears catalogue wish book and writing letters to Santa. They joyfully attend the company Christmas party, a very special event filled with festivities like singing and eating a big feast. But, Christmas doesn't go off exactly as planned. A bitter snowstorm changes everything, and the children learn that the best gifts aren't always the ones we ask for.
Reading the Cole Family Christmas is like combing for treasures in a beloved antique store. Images of times past are brought to life in the book's wonderful, descriptive passages and in the beautiful illustrations by Jenniffer Julich. Based on family members' recollections, the story was written down on paper by two amazing women, Hazel Cole Kendle (the youngest member of the Cole family) and Jennifer Liu Bryan, her granddaughter-in-law. The story is told through the eyes of Hazel's sister, Ruble, who was the storyteller of their family. Though the story takes place nearly a century ago, the poignant message still rings true today, particularly in this difficult economy we are currently experiencing. The nine-chapter book is marketed for children ages 9 to 12, but it works as a read-aloud for younger children. I plan on sharing the story with my own grandparents. They grew up during similar times and will have a special appreciation for the events described in the book.
Because I grew up in an area with a rich mining history, I especially enjoyed reading about the life and struggles that the mining families faced. Additionally, as a mother, I appreciated the strength and patience shown by Mama Cole. I also have a great interest in genealogy and preserving family legacies. After reading Cole Family Christmas hopefully others, like me, will be encouraged to record and discuss their own family histories. Create some new memories this Christmas by reading this wonderful book with your family and then take the time to write down and preserve one of your own special stories!
Cole Family Christmas by Jennifer Liu Bryan with Hazel Cole Kendle, illustrated by Jenniffer Julich. Next Chapter Press (September 2008), 74 pages, ISBN 9780981626505
colefamily-christmas.com - The Cole Family Christmas website features reviews, Christmas tag printables, news and events, and information on the authors.
ReadAloud.org - Hilda, the goat from Cole Family Christmas is the "spokesgoat" for ReadAloud.org. Learn more about Hilda and the Read Aloud Campaign on the website.
Win a copy! Next Chapter Press has kindly sent me one (1) hardcover copy of Cole Family Christmas, to give away to one of my readers.
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