It is Christmas morning and at first everyone in Morris’s family is very happy. But while Morris’s three older siblings are all interested in swapping with each other for playtime with their new presents (a beauty kit, hockey outfit, and chemistry set), they don’t want to swap for playtime with Morris’s new bear. Morris is deeply disappointed. But what is that under the tree? And what is a disappearing bag anyway? The answer surprising, and the book is a total pleasure–perfect for any sibling, or anyone who’s ever felt in need of a bit of magic.
Every year, after Thanksgiving, I bring out the Christmas books. Every
year, after New Year’s Day, I put them away again. I still read the
books aloud to the boys in the order they pick, and each year this book
(along with Shall I Knit You a Hat?, which I’ll be posting about soon; Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree; and The Christmas Wombat)
is one of the first chosen. My oldest likes it so much that in 2017
he asked for (and received) a bear just like Morris’s as his Christmas
Abraham Lincoln was a doting, devoted, and devastated father. This work of historical fiction focuses on his relationship with two of his four sons. Willie narrates the first half of the book (this narration is partially based on a 200-word fragment by the historical Willie; all of the events in the book are historically accurate). When Willie dies at age eleven, partway through his father’s term of office, the narration is taken over by his younger brother, Tad. (The Lincolns had already lost another son, Eddie, at the age of three, while Lincoln was practicing law in Springfield, Illinois.) The book ends as the Civil War ends, before Lincoln’s assassination. (The book does not go on to note that Tad outlived his father, but died at age eighteen and the Lincolns’ only surviving son, the one Lincoln had the most distant relationship with, then arranged to have his mother committed to a psychiatric hospital.)
While this is clearly not the happiest of stories, Lincoln loved his wife and their boys very much and his (over?) indulgence of his boys and joy in their company make this a very accessible, warm book. It is memorable too; my oldest drew Lincoln (complete with this stovepipe hat and beard) and one of his sons in response to an end-of-the-school-year question, along with the following explanation: “My favorite social studies is Aedrham Lingkne. Cus he is vary nice to his cids and evry oun eles!”
This classic is one of the very best books to read aloud to children. (I’ve been known to read it to babies.) Our edition has gently colorized pictures that gild the lily a bit but please the boys. It called the Signature Edition and is out of print but fairly simple to find.
We also enjoy the (much less beautiful) animated movie now and then (mostly for the songs).
Author: E.B. White
Illustrator: Garth Williams, with watercoloring by Rosemary Wells