Monday, December 26, 2011
This story predates the first book of the Austin Family series, Meet the Austins. Here Vicki is seven years old, and she is very excited because she has been chosen to play the part of the angel in the Christmas pageant. Unfortunately, she overhears an unkind remark made by the adults directing the play, commenting on the fact that she is awkward and clumsy, not the best choice for the part after all. While Vicki is crushed, she turns to her parents for help, and she works very hard to improve her performance. Just as things seem to be looking up, the alarming possibility occurs to her that her mother, who is nearing the end of her pregnancy, might not be able to see the pageant if the baby comes. She might not even be home for Christmas! As Vicki thinks about all the ways in which Christmas is only Christmas if the entire family is together, she becomes more and more worried about what might happen if the baby comes early.
The Austin family's Christmas is likely a much simpler affair than most children today experience. Every day they do something together to prepare and celebrate the advent season. They put out the figures from the nativity set one day, and they make a Christmas mobile from recycled tin cans the next. There isn't any mention made, really, of gifts and presents and what Vicki would like to receive for Christmas - it's about being together and enjoying holiday traditions, and I liked that. I think younger readers would enjoy the story as well, and they would definitely relate to Vicki's hopes and anxieties. Their eyes might not mist up as mine always do at the end of this story, but they'll be sure to enjoy it all the same.
Source: Purchased ebook
Books in the Austin Family Chronicles:
1. Meet the Austins
2. The Moon by Night
3. The Young Unicorns
4. A Ring of Endless Light
5. Troubling a Star
The Twenty-Four Days of Christmas by Madeleine L'Engle; illustrations by Jill Weber (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1964)
Reviews of other books by L'Engle:
A Wrinkle in Time
The Joys of Love