A CHRISTMAS SONATA by Gary Paulsen

A CHRISTMAS SONATA

by & illustrated by
Age Range: 8 - 12
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Tapping his sources for The Cookcamp (1991) once again, Paulsen tells another evocative story about a small boy alone with his mother during WW II. It could be the same boy, perhaps a year later, who describes their long train journey to northern Minnesota to visit an aunt and uncle who live behind their country store. The boy is troubled by doubts: Before they left Chicago, he glimpsed a mean old neighbor, Mr. Henderson, dressed in a Santa suit. Is it still worth trying to be good if Mr. Henderson is Santa, or if Santa doesn't exist at all? Also, the boy's slightly older cousin Matthew--bedridden and known to be dying--is a subduing source of puzzlement: The boy's father might die in Europe, meaning that he would never come home--but Matthew is already home. What, then, can dying mean? Skillfully and unsentimentally, Paulsen depicts the adults' grief as they prepare for Matthew's last Christmas through the perceptions of a narrator who is so young that he can't really comprehend, but is already a thoughtful and caring individual. The boys' friendly interaction--Matthew contrives games they can share and they worry together about Santa's existence--ring especially true. In the end, a Santa in whom the boys can believe does turn up; it's up to the reader to judge whether he's Uncle Ben's doing, or Paulsen's. A holiday heartwarmer that will appeal to a wide audience. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-385-30441-2
Page count: 80pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1992




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