Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story

Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story

Cynthia Rylant
Illustrator:  Chris Soentpiet 
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 8
Scholastic, 1997   ISBN: 053130051X

One snowy evening, some years ago, a rich man had an accident on one of the roads in Appalachia. Luckily he was rescued by someone who took care of him until he was well enough to go home. The man was grateful for the kindness that he had received and wanted to pay the people who had helped him, but they would not let him do this for them. So, instead, every December 23rd, the rich man would bring the Christmas Train to the little Appalachian town. From the caboose at the end of the train the rich man would throw a silver wrapped package to every child who stood beside the railway tracks.

One year a boy called Frankie stood with the other children and waited for the train. He wanted very much to have a doctor kit in his silver package. Frankie's feet were very cold because his shoes were too thin, and as it happened, when he opened his silver package on Christmas morning he found that it had three pairs of socks in it. It also had a cowboy holster in it but no doctor kit. Every year that he waited for a silver wrapped package Frankie wanted a doctor kit, and every year he got a different toy.

Somehow though, Frankie got something else in those packages that was very important indeed. It was something that ended up changing his whole life.

Once again Cynthia Rylant gives us an unforgettable story with a message that touches the heart deeply. She reminds us that there are times where something truly meaningful lies beyond a simple hope, we just have to reach out a little further to find it. Combined with Chris K. Soentpiet's remarkable paintings, this is a book to read again and again.