HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Once in the Year: A Christmas Story
Author: Elizabeth Yates
Illustrator: Nora Spicer Unwin
Publisher: Upper Room, 1991
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Yates, Elizabeth. Once in the Year: A Christmas Story (published in 1947 by Coward McCann Inc.; republished in 1991 by Upper Room Books, a division of The Upper Room, 1908 Grand Ave., P. O. Box 189, Nashville, TN 37202). Young Peter, perhaps around twelve years old, lives on a Vermont mountain farm with his father Andrew, his mother Martha, and their hired man Benj. Peter hears his mother read the Christmas story, and tell him how she once went out on Christmas Eve and saw the forest in bloom. She even has a faded flower from the experience tucked in her Bible. Then Benj tells him about animals talking in Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born and how he heard the animals speak on Christmas Eve. Se Peter determines to go to the barn at midnight and hear for himself. What will happen?
Using characters from her 1944 Newbery Honor Book Mountain Born, and later found in its 1952 sequel, A Place for Peter, author Elizabeth Yates McGreal combines the retelling of two old and familiar traditional Christmas legends about the flowering forest and the barn animals talking at midnight in this lovely little Christmas story for children and adults. It is illustrated with beautiful pen-and-ink drawings of cookies, candles, flowers, leaves, birds, and squirrels by Nora Spicer Unwin, which make the pages delightful to look at. Those who object to any celebration or observance of Christmas will not care for this short book. But for others this would a wonderful tale to read to children on Christmas Eve, and the adults will likely enjoy it as much as the kids.