Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Birds' Christmas Carol: Review

The Birds' Christmas Carol (1886) is a very sweet short novel written by Kate Douglas Wiggin and illustrated by Katharine R. Wireman. It centers around Carol Bird--originally destined to be named Lucy until she arrived unexpectedly on Christmas.  She grows to be an exceptionally happy, loving, and generous girl--despite the fact that she is diagnosed with an unspecified illness at age five and is bedridden by the time she is ten.  As the story says, "perhaps because she was born in holiday time, carol was a very happy baby...she may have breathed in unconsciously the fragrance of evergreens and holiday dinners; while the peals of sleigh-bells and the laughter of happy children may have fallen upon her baby ears and wakened in them a glad surprise at the merry world she had come to live in."  Just by being Carol, she manages to influence her unruly brothers to behave more generously to one another and her entire family learns lessons about the true meaning of Christmas from their very own Christmas Carol.

Carol manages to teach her family and readers alike that it really is better to give than to receive.  Her fondest wish is to prepare a gala Christmas celebration for the nine Ruggles children who live in a small house behind her own.  She finds a way to earn her own money to provide a Christmas dinner that the children will never forget as well as presents the likes of which they have never seen.  While the story is primarily a moral tale about a very angelic child with an incredibly giving heart , it also features some very humorous scenes--particularly when the Ruggles matriarch is attempting to prepare her large brood for their first fine social occasion.

Even though it is tinged with sadness at the end, this is a truly lovely story--entirely suitable to the Christmas season. Five stars.

It is very funny, but you do not always have to see people to love them. (p. 17)

Each girl had a blue knitted hood, and each boy a red crocheted comforter, all made by Mamma, Carol, and Elfrida. ("Because if you buy everything, it doesn't show so much love," said Carol. (p. 58)

"Mamma, dear, I do think that we have kept Christ's birthday this time just as He would like. Don't you?" [Carol]
"I am sure of it," said Mrs. Bird, softly. (p. 62)

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