Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Christmas Miracle

For those of you who do not know me, before becoming a stay at home mom, I was a 3rd grade elementary school teacher. As such, I have a passion for excellent children's literature. So, I think here and there on my blog, I will throw in a book review.

Here is one of my favorites for the Christmas season; The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey written by Susan Wojciechowski. I first encountered it while student-teaching in a wonderful classroom. The students had to decorate a Christmas tree with a theme from literature, and their fabulous teacher (my mentor) chose this book. The tree was beautiful, and did well in the PTA fund raising Holiday Tree Auction. But the story remains forever in my heart. It is a true picture of the redemptive power of Our Savior's birth, and focuses on the real reason for the season. Currently it is sold with a CD that has James Earle Jones reading the story.

In the story, there is a lonely, curmudgeonly woodcarver, known as "Gloomy Toomey" in the town who keeps to himself and grumps around. A widow and her young son, Thomas, move into town, but cannot find their beloved, hand carved nativity set. The widow asks Jonathan if he will carve them a new one in time for Christmas, and then asks if Thomas may watch while he carves. As the story unfolds, you learn the reason for Mr. Toomey's gloomies, and see the Christmas Story characters through the eyes of a child. The patience, faith, and grace of the mother and son, and the power of the first Christmas help to transform Jonathan, and bring tears to just about everyone's eyes. But they are good tears. I remember bawling in front of all of those 3rd grade students the first time I read it, thinking I was making an absolute fool of myself, and that I better "fix" that problem before I got my own classroom. But, through the years of my teaching experience, I learned that it can be a very good thing for children to witness raw, human emotion, especiatlly if it is in someone they trust, in a safe environment. It brings up questions, and teaches them what it is to be human.

As you can tell, I have nothing but good things to say about this book, and I highly recommend buying it or checking it out at the library ASAP. It is a true classic. :)

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