Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The First Christmas Stocking

The First Christmas Stocking

Elizabeth Winthrop
Illustrator:   Bagram Ibatoulline 
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 9
Random House, 2006   ISBN: 978-0385328043

Long ago a little girl lived in a dark little house in the "lowest valley of the town" with her father and her mother. Her father went to work in the mine every day and her mother spent her day knitting warm and beautiful hats, vests, scarves and other garments for the rich folks. Sitting on her mother's lap the little girl, Claire, learned to knit stockings "to keep my toes warm." Following her mother's direction she would "dream your dreams and knit them into the wool."

Unfortunately Claire's lovely mother died one winter and left Claire with no one to spend her days with. All by herself Claire would sit in her mother's rocking chair and knit stockings. All around town Claire became knows as the "stocking girl."

One winter's day a tall lady knocked on Claire's door and told Claire that she wanted her to make three pairs of stockings for her children. The lady wanted to give the stockings to her children for Christmas. Claire would to have the stockings ready by Christmas Eve which was only two days away.

Working hard until her back and fingers were stiff, Claire managed to get the stockings finished in time. Better still the designs that she had created on them were the best that she had ever done.

Quickly she set off for the rich lady?s house. On the way she saw a ragged child sitting in the snow. He had no socks on his feet, no mittens on his raw little hands, and no hat on his cold head. Before she knew what she was doing she had given him five of the stockings that she had knitted to put on his feet and hands and head. She simply could not bear to leave that poor child to freeze in the snow.

When she got to the lady's house with just one knitted stocking in her basket, the lady was furious and sent Claire packing. To make matters worse she told Claire that she would be coming to Claire's house to collect the yarn she was due.

Poor Claire got home cold and miserable. Not only had she not been able to deliver the stockings she had worked so hard to make, but she now would have to find some way to get yarn for the rich lady. And she had not been paid so she and her father would not be able to have much of a Christmas celebration either.

In this wonderfully moving and gorgeously illustrated picture book, young readers will get to read an original story which explains why they get gifts in their stockings on Christmas Eve. For her kindness to a poor cold little street child, Claire is rewarded and her reward is passed on to good children all over the world from that time on.

This heartwarming story is beautifully told and children and their families will love reading it together during story times on the days leading up to Christmas.