Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

When Christmas feels like home

When Christmas feels like home

Gretchen Griffith
Illustrator:  Carolina Farias 
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Albert Whitman, 2013   ISBN: 978-0807588727

One day Eduardo and his family members climb into the family car with their belongings and they leave their village. They drive for many, many hours until they came to a house on Sleepy Tree Lane. When they arrive, Eduardo carries a box containing the nativity scene that he and his grandfather made into the house. Then Eduardo plays with some American boys, kicking around an American football and the futbol that he brought with him. They have fun, but when Eduardo reluctantly goes into his new house it does not feel like home.

   Mama tells Eduardo that his new house will feel like home when they unpack the nativity scene, but that is not going to happen straight away. Tio Miguel explains that “some things take time.” First the mountain will “turn the color of the sun,” and the pumpkins in a nearby field “will smile.” Then the “trees will become like standing skeletons.” Tia Sofia tells him that his new school will feel like it is his school when he sees his words “float like clouds from his mouth.” Eduardo does not believe that these strange things can ever happen. Who ever heard of smiling pumpkins.

   For some time Eduardo has a hard time adjusting. He does not speak any English and does not understand what his classmates and teacher are saying. He does understand the math though. Math is the same in Spanish and English.

   Then one day Eduardo notices that the trees on the mountain are starting to change. Their leaves are turning red and gold, the color of the sun. Then Eduardo and his family pick pumpkins and carve them, giving them big smiles. Could it be true that the things his tio and tia told him about are all true? Will Eduardo really start to feel at home when they unpack the nativity scene?

   This heartwarming story shows readers what it is like for a child to move to a new place where the culture, language, traditions and even the seasons are different. We see through his eyes what it is like to experience fall (where the leaves on the trees change color), Thanksgiving and Halloween for the first time, and we see how, with time, he starts to feel at home.