Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Coal Country Christmas

Coal Country Christmas

Elizabeth Ferguson Brown
Illustrator:  Harvey Stevenson 
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Boyds Mills Press, 2003   ISBN: 978-1590780206

A girl and her mother have come to coal country to spend Christmas with her grandmother. They are the three Liz’s, the three of them basking in the warmth of the stove, in the warmth of memories, and in the warmth of the love that they share for one another.

All around them there are the reminders of the days when the mines were working, when the men were going down into the bowels of the earth. There is the empty rocking chair where her grandfather used to sit. Lung sickness, an ailment that was commonly found in mining communities, took his life. The houses tilt because of the subsiding earth and windows at night are left cracked for fear of coal gas. The sad legacy of the mines lives on and yet Christmas is still a time of joy, of the bringing together of families, of celebration. For this Christmas in her grandmother’s little home there are special traditions to share, special joys to savor and a myriad of treats to enjoy.

In this very moving book the author has created a wonderful tribute to those members of her family who were miners and who struggled to provide for their families under very difficult conditions. The author reminds us that there are still the women who were left behind, who lived on surrounded by their memories even after the mines had closed, and after their husbands and sons were no longer with them, claimed by the mines in accidents or by illness.

With delicacy and a great skill with words, the author has created a thought provoking and sensitive book which offers a wonderful view of an often forgotten world.