Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Audrey Couloumbis
For ages 9 to 12
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2010   ISBN: 978-0375856303

It is a Saturday morning just before Christmas and Jake and his mother have just bought groceries. They are walking out to the car in the parking lot when Jake’s mother slips on the ice and she falls. Jake quickly realizes that is mother is badly injured, and sure enough, when they get to the hospital, they find out that she has a spiral fracture in one of her legs. Jake’s mother is not going to be going anywhere for a while.

By the next morning, Jake’s grandfather has arrived. Jake barely knows the man, and he is not sure if they are going to get along. Since the death of Jake’s father when Jake was little, Jake and his mother have had very little contact with Granddad.

Thankfully, Jake’s neighbor and dear friend, Mrs. Buttermark, comes to the rescue. She is very good with people, and she soon makes friends with Granddad and with Granddad’s dog. She helps smooth over the rough patches as Jake and Granddad try to get to know one another.

As he tries to deal with his mother’s absence and his Granddad’s sudden appearance, Jake remembers some advice that his Aunt Ginny once gave him. She suggested that one should try to find something likeable in people who seem to be unlikeable. Clearly Granddad loves his dog and surely this must mean that Granddad has a soft spot. Perhaps Jake can find a way to tap into that soft spot.

In this heart-warming and memorable book, Audrey Couloumbis explores the nature of family. She shows to great effect how a family gets through a crisis, and how they manage to have a joyful holiday despite everything.

Jake’s voice is so genuine and so honest, that readers will quickly find themselves identifying and sympathizing with him as he tries to come to terms with what is happening around him.