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by Lynn Manuel & illustrated by Carol Benioff

Age Range: 5 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-525-46120-5
Publisher: Dutton

A young girl named Chloe is reluctant to enjoy Christmas because of her beloved grandmother’s recent death in this bittersweet, well-told story. As part of their family holiday celebrations, Chloe’s grandmother created handmade Christmas ornaments that she called “thingamajigs,” and she and Chloe would decorate the tree and then dance around it together. Chloe is understandably sad and tries not to participate in the Christmas preparations, but her understanding grandfather patiently and wisely talks to her over several days, helping her to remember and honor her grandmother and their special traditions. In a sweet conclusion, Chloe and her grandpa dance a “thingama-jig” around the tree together. While making effective use of the powerful emotional setting of a family Christmas celebration, Manuel’s (Lucy Maud and the Cavendish Cat, not reviewed, etc.) gracefully told story transcends the holiday genre, as this could be a valuable work at any season for anyone (including adults) who has lost a parent or grandparent. Benioff, in her first work for children, does a fine job of bringing the characters to life, especially Chloe. Her jewel-toned paintings of the present contrast with sepia-toned illustrations that recall fond memories of earlier days with Grandma. The spreads that include both timeframes connect gracefully through various shared connecting devices: open doors, an old tree with spreading branches, or an open window, linking the past to the present. (Picture book. 5-10)