New Christmas Book Fave: Great Joy

by | Dec 23, 2011 | Children's Book of the Week | 2 comments

We don’t really vary too much from our Christmas favorites here. I still love Christmas in Noisy Village best because it has earnest lines like “This cooky smell is the kind I like!” and “I wish Christmas would come oftener, don’t you?”

I’m sure there’s a place for dinosaurs dressed as Santa*, and we do get those from the library, but I tend to be fairly traditional when it comes to holiday books (with the notable expression of Lemony Snicket writing about latkes or coal).

A new favorite this year is Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo, with incredible illustrations by Bagram Ibatouilline. It’s sweet and heartfelt and old-fashioned. A girl named Frances can’t stop thinking about the organ grinder and his monkey who stand on the street corner outside her apartment. Her mother — who is harried, presumably because the father is off fighting in a war, though this is only vaguely hinted at in the illustrations — doesn’t want to deal with Frances’s questions about the organ grinder, and where he goes at night, and whether they can invite him to dinner. Frances does end up reaching out to him, and it’s just lovely.

Plus now Zuzu insists that I braid her hair with ribbons like Frances, which is a good look for her.

*Ok, I don’t know of any books where dinosaurs dress as Santa, but a fun surprise this year was Santa Duck by David Milgrim, which is completely hilarious. Check it out, if you can.


  1. Hannah

    I love Kate DiCamillo! I’ll be sure to add this to my list next Christmas.

  2. Julie

    The best word I can think of to describe this book is “lovely.” You should definitely check it out next year!


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