Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Jingle Bells: How the Holiday Classic Came to Be

Jingle Bells: How the Holiday Classic Came to Be

John Harris
Illustrator:  Adam Gustavson 
Historical Fiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Peachtree Publishers, 2011   ISBN: 978-1561455904

It is November in Savannah, and James Lord Pierpont is feeling very hot as he and his daughter sweep up the broken glass that lies on the floor of his church. Someone has yet again thrown a brick through one of the church windows because someone is angry that four members of the congregation are ex slaves.

As they work, Mr. Pierpont tells his little daughter what it is like in Boston at this time of year. She has never seen snow or gone on a sleigh ride, nor has her friend Ester. Wanting the girls to have a sense of what a sleigh ride is like, Mr. Pierpont sits down at the church organ and he starting tinkering with sounds and words, trying to capture the essence of a snowy New England day.

Every year, for the Thanksgiving Day service, Mr. Pierpont performs a new song in a concert. Knowing that his congregation needs a new holiday song that will lift up their spirits (and that will take them away from hot Savannah to a place where sleigh bells jingle), Mr. Pierpont puts together a wonderful holiday gift.

Using a number of stories that describe how James Lord Pierpont composed Jingle Bells, John Harris has created a story that is heartwarming and uplifting. Readers will see how a little idea can grow until it becomes something beautiful and joyful.

At the back of the book, in an author’s note, the author tells readers a little more about the Jingle Bells story and how he came to write it.