Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Fig Pudding

Fig Pudding

Ralph Fletcher
For ages 9 to 12
Clarion, 2009   ISBN: 0395711258

Clifford Allyn Abernathy III (Cliff), is the oldest of six children. Though there are some good things about being the eldest, there are also some things that Cliff is not so enthusiastic about. For example, Cliff is often the one who has to set an example for everyone else. His parents “expect more” from him, and when he messes up, he has to listen to a long lecture about being responsible etcetera and so forth.

Cliff’s memorable year begins just before Christmas. Grandma comes to stay, and she begins her visit by making stollen, a special Christmas bread. All the children help, and they  have a wonderful time stirring, mixing, eating. Then the family discovers that the baby of the family, Josh, is really ill. The family doctor quickly decides that Josh should be in a hospital; he is a very sick little boy.

With everyone worrying about Josh and his prognosis, it is hard to enjoy getting ready for Christmas. Grandma makes some more stollen, but no one really want to eat much of anything. After a very anxious time, spirits at last lift when Josh starts to get better. Josh goes back to telling everyone that he wants a  “yidda yadda” for Christmas and finally, in the hospital, his family figure out what he is asking for.

This delightful story captures the high points and the low points during a special year in an eleven year old boy’s life. Birthdays come and go, a quiet member of the family asserts himself in a clever way, and the family suffers a terrible loss that they have to learn how to live with. With humor, sensitivity and poignancy, Ralph Fletcher goes from Christmas to Christmas, showing his readers how a family copes with successes, tribulations, and grief. Best of all he shows how love (and sometimes humor) is truly the glue that holds everyone together.