The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood

by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve and Ellen Beier

In a story based on the author’s childhood, young Virginia is in need of a... read more

In a story based on the author’s childhood, young Virginia is in need of a new winter coat—something her family can’t afford. Instead, she has to wait and see if there’s a coat in the “Theast” boxes—clothing donated from New England (“the East”) churches. And when the boxes finally arrive, there is! It’s made of animal fur, and Virginia longs for it. But because she is the minister’s daughter, she has to wait until the rest of the congregation families have chosen what they need. Inevitably, the coat is taken. To make matters worse, it’s taken by a girl whom Virginia can’t stand. Young Virginia’s authentically childlike feelings of disappointment and jealousy as she struggles to uphold the values of selflessness stressed by her parents are wonderfully realized. And her effort is sweetly rewarded, most notably when Christmas brings an unexpected surprise in this picture book that offers a realistic look at economic hardship in the context of a warm and loving family. Aspects of Native (Sneve is Sioux) culture are subtle elements of the story, and occasionally stand out in the illustrations. (Ages 4–8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2012

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