Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Christmas Candle

The Christmas Candle

Richard Paul Evans
Illustrator:  Jacob Collins 
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 8
Simon and Schuster, 2006   ISBN: 1416926828

A young man called Thomas is walking home one cold snowy Christmas Eve. He is eager to get home but the candle in his lantern is finished and he needs to buy another. Luckily Thomas sees a chandler’s shop nearby. Inside the shop he comments on how foolish the chandler is to carve candles in many lovely shapes, for when the candles melt the beauty will be gone. Thomas only wants a candle to light his way and so he buys a plain and inexpensive one for his lantern.

It is only when he begins he journey home that he comes to realize that there is something special about the candle after all. By its light he sees a beggar woman on the streets asking for “a pence.” To Thomas’ horror the woman looks like his mother. He cannot believe his mother would be in such a state and he wraps her in his cloak. Then, to his amazement he sees that the woman is not his mother. How can this be?

Not long after Thomas sees what he thinks is his brother lying in the gutter. Is this really his brother or just another illusion?

What the special Christmas candle shows Thomas is that everyone is someone’s brother, someone’s mother, someone’s sister. We all “belong to one family” and therefore it is up to us to look after one another. Thomas comes to see that just as he cares for his own immediate family, he must also care for the poor people who need and ask for his help. He, in short, learns one of the most precious lessons of the Christmas season – to love others.

Sometimes we forget what Christmas is really about and this very special and powerful little story puts things in perspective, reminding us that Christmas is truly a time for giving.