THE BELLS OF CHRISTMAS by Lambert Davis
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THE BELLS OF CHRISTMAS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

For readers older than those of Howard's Chita's Christmas Tree (p. 990/C-166), another vivid account of the holiday as celebrated by a black family in comfortable circumstances years ago--in this case, in 1890 Ohio. Hamilton uses well-researched, lovingly re-created details and deceptively simple, totally unclichéd language to describe the Bells: Papa, who runs a successful carpentry business with his older sons; Mama, a fine seamstress; little Melissy; and 12-year-old narrator Jason, who can barely wait for Christmas and the coming of the other Bells--Uncle Levi and his family. Splendid homemade gifts (including a new mechanical leg, custommade by his brother, to replace Papa's peg leg), food, and the celebration at church are all portrayed in telling detail; but most significant is this family's memorable joy at being together, and their pride in their 100-year tradition in this place alongside the fascinating, historic National Road. Davis' carefully crafted paintings with their sculptural figures and well-furnished interiors reflect the story's strong sense of stability and security. Perhaps as a result, though, they are stolid rather than lively; and when the yearned-for snow finally comes, Davis' depiction of it is greeting-card conventional--unlike Hamilton's lovely description of "the great white night" when lights from the house shone in "patches of gold [that] made the lane sparkle." An excellent addition to the author's fine oeuvre; a good readaloud.
Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1989
ISBN: 0152015507
Page count: 68pp
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1989




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