Written by Kate Westerlund
Illustrated by Eve Tharlet
Michael Neugebauer Publishing 10/1/2019
32 Pages Age 4—8
Genre: Children’s Picture Book, Fiction
Themes: Christmas, Sharing, Caring, Giving, Animals
It’s Christmas time in the forest, but this year there isn’t much for the animals to celebrate. It’s been a cold, snowy winter and food is scarce. Clara, a little deer, is worried about Christmas, so she wishes on a star for help.
The next day Clara hears the sound of bells in the distance. As she follows the magical sound, she is joined by a squirrel and a rabbit. When they stumble onto a stash of nuts and berries, they decide to share it with everyone in the forest. After all, sharing is giving, and that’s what Christmas is all about. (from back cover)
“Look! A shooting star,” said Clara. “Is it true that every star in the sky is a wish waiting to come true?”
“I don’t know about that,” said her mother. “But I’ve always thought if you wish for something hard enough, you can help make it come true.”
Why I like this book
Clara’s mother is worried there will not be enough—or any—food for Christmas. Clara overhears her mother softly say to herself, “Too much snow and not enough to eat. I’m afraid it won’t be much of a Christmas . . . for anyone.” Clara looks at the twinkling stars and makes a wish. The next day, Clara is out alone when she hears bells and follows the sound. The little deer finds berries. Martin, from his tree perch, asks if Clara found any nuts. Though she hadn’t, Martin joins Clara. A rabbit pops up wanting to know what the two are doing. Ralph had not heard the bells, either, but tags along. Soon they find nuts. Though Martin doesn’t think there are enough nuts to share, Clara decides to have a Christmas celebration. She invites all the animals, asking them to bring something to share. Three little blue birds give everyone the news.
Sharing Christmas has no Santa Claus bringing gifts or saving the day. These animals are self-reliant, finding food and then sharing what they each have. By putting all these things together, the group has more than enough to eat. While they did have help, the animals had to trudge through the snow to find what was left for them. In the end, Clara had made a wish on a twinkling star, but it was her efforts that helped the wish come true.
Young children will especially like Sharing Christmas since sharing is a concept they are trying to master. They can relate to Martin wanting to keep all the nuts for himself. “There isn’t very much. Share?” asked Martin again. Children will also relate to the other animals, especially Clara, who wants to celebrate Christmas by sharing what they have with each other. Sharing can make good things happen. Just as young children must learn to share in kindergarten (often with kids they do not know), by letting the blue birds tell all the other animals, Clara was willing to share with those she has not yet met.
As a Christmas story, Sharing Christmas is the perfect story to read to all the kids at a family gathering, maybe before the gift exchange, to remind them sharing, caring, and giving are all Christmas concepts. Children from nearby farms helped Clara and the other animals. They, too, feared there was not enough food for everyone. Thinking of and helping others are probably the most important Christmas concepts.
I love the illustrations. A couple of spreads remind me of classic Currier and Ives. There is nothing cutsie about the animals. Each looks realistic, as do the snow covered houses and trees. The one exception is Clara’s ear mittens, which the story needs. After reading Sharing Christmas, readers should come away with a renewed spirit to share, to give, and to care. It might even give readers one last thought; one they could turn into action: winters are harsh, so why not add extra to the bird feeder, or toss a pumpkin at the edge of the woods.
Kate Westerlund and Eve Tharlet wrote and illustrated a beautiful Christmas story. Though there are several lessons in it, Sharing Christmas is not a didactic story. Sharing Christmas is a joyful story and one that should be on your Christmas story list. Originally released a mere twelve years ago, Sharing Christmas is not yet a classic, but in time, Clara and her Christmas celebration will be loved the world over.
“Sharing is giving, and giving is what Christmas is all about!”
When I originally read this sentence in my mind, I skipped a few words, unintentionally. The result was this: “Sharing is giving, and giving is Christmas.”
Originally published as Sharing Christmas by Minedition, © 2007, Zurich, Switzerland.
Available at Amazon
SHARING CHRISTMAS. Text Copyright © 2007/2019 by Kate Westerlund. Illustrations copyright © 2007/2019 by Eve Tharlet. Published by Michael Neugebauer Publishing, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Copyright © 2019 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
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