CHRISTMAS IN THE BIG HOUSE, CHRISTMAS IN THE QUARTERS by Patricia C. McKissack

CHRISTMAS IN THE BIG HOUSE, CHRISTMAS IN THE QUARTERS

Age Range: 8 - 13
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 It's Christmas 1859 on a Virginia plantation. The family in the Big House and the slaves in the Quarters prepare for their celebrations. It is a happy time for everyone. Families are united. Feast are prepared. Singing and dancing are seen everywhere. The McKissacks (The Royal Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay, 1994, etc.) have written a strangely romantic view of a pre-emancipation Christmas. Not that there isn't talk of freedom among the slaves, and of uprising among the whites; it's just not clear why these slaves are unhappy. They are obviously poorer than their masters, but, except for a New Year's Day separation of black family members, plantation life doesn't seem at all bad. Thompson's glowing pictures, depicting well-dressed, healthy slaves and their masters celebrating together do nothing to dispel this impression. Perhaps if the McKissacks had shown the contrast between Christmas and the rest of the year more clearly, rather than assuming that their readers would all understand the evils of slavery, their book might have been more successful. It's tricky to reclaim traditions from an unhappy past. The line between glorifying aspects of slave culture and seeming to ignore the brute evil of slavery is thin. Unfortunately, the McKissacks have stepped over. (Historical fiction/Picture book. 8-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-590-43027-0
Page count: 80pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1994




MORE BY PATRICIA C. MCKISSACK

ChildrenWHAT IS GIVEN FROM THE HEART by Patricia C. McKissack
by Patricia C. McKissack
ChildrenWHO WILL BELL THE CAT? by Patricia C. McKissack
by Patricia C. McKissack

MORE BY JOHN THOMPSON

ChildrenTHE FLYING BED by Nancy Willard
by Nancy Willard
ChildrenPRAIRIE TRAIN by Marsha Wilson Chall
by Marsha Wilson Chall
ChildrenTHE DEAD SEA SCROLLS by Ilene Cooper
by Ilene Cooper