The Bells of Christmas

by Virginia Hamilton and Lambert Davis

A handsome 10 ¼" x 8 ¼" tribute to childlike anticipation of recurring... read more

A handsome 10 ¼" x 8 ¼" tribute to childlike anticipation of recurring seasonal events takes place a hundred years ago in 12-year-old Jason Bell's home beside the historic National Road near Springfield, Ohio. The plot moves quickly, and characterizations are vivid. As well as experiencing Jason's 1890 Christmas, readers are treated to abundant dialogue and short sentences reminiscent of writing for children a hundred years ago. Likewise, the full-color acrylic paintings on every double-page spread utilize an illustration style a century old. The story offers multiple references to independence, to bells, to travel across space and time and to carefully researched details about this period. Appreciation of individuality rings loud and clear through Jason's Papa, a self-employed master carpenter who has a wooden leg and a wheel-a-chair, and Mama, also her own boss as a seamstress. An invigorating sense of this loving African-American family's continuity combines with a warm expression of noncommercialized holiday joy. The design and layout choices serve the story and illustrations well and are exemplary of superior book making. Inviting for family reading, the book deserves consideration as a future classic. (Ages 5-11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1989

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