Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll

The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll

Patricia McKissack
Illustrator:   Jerry Pinkney 
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 8
Schwartz & Wade, 2007   ISBN: 978-0375837593

Though Christmas always comes to Nella's house, Santy Claus doesn't and she is rather anxious about this. The country is in the middle of the Great Depression and her family is very poor so Nella knows that there is good chance that Santy won't come this year but she cannot help hoping that he will. So she and her sisters and Mama get to work getting the house ready for Christmas, stripping the old newspaper off the walls and putting up new.

It is a week before Christmas when Nella tells her sisters how much she wants a Baby Betty doll. Her sisters remind her that there is a Depression on and that there is no point wishing for something "you ain'never gon'get." Refusing to listen to these voices of reason Nella writes a letter to Santy Claus asking him for a Baby Betty doll.

On Christmas morning Nella and her sisters each get a sack with walnuts, candy, an orange, and a box of raisins in it. What a treat! And then Daddy surprises the girls even more by presenting them with another sack and inside it there is a Baby Betty doll. At once the girls start fighting over the doll. Their father tells them that they need to come to some sort of agreement about the doll, which they do; the Betty Baby can be Nella's doll since she was the one who asked Santy for it.

At first Nella is thrilled but she soon finds out that having such a perfect gift is not as wonderful as she thought it would be.

In this unique picture book the author perfectly captures the warmth that three sisters share on one very special Christmas day. Nella comes to realize that having her dream come true really has no meaning if she cannot share that dream with her sisters. Beautifully evocative illustrations show the intimate moments in this family's life as they do the best that they can to make Christmas special during the lean Depression era years.