One of the keys to Christmas is generosity, and The Legend of the Christmas Stocking by Rick Osborne is a great way to emphasize this with our children.
In this children's adaptation of the bestselling adult's book of the same title, we're taken back to Victorian times when a young boy named Peter is anxiously awaiting the return of his father's ship. He's also anxiously awaiting the day he can purchase a fine model of that ship, with money he's earned selling newspapers. But Uncle Jim asks: "What if your dad doesn't get back by Christmas? Would you be willing to use the money you saved to buy presents for your family instead?" Peter's is the only available money for Christmas presents, but Peter can't bear the thought of not getting his much longed for model. Can he really sacrifice his own wants for that of his sisters'?
Then Pastor Spring preaches a sermon on giving, telling his congregation the story of St. Nicholas, who knew three young women who could not afford a dowry, and therefore would never be able to marry. Secretly, he tossed bags of gold through two of their windows, ensuring the girls a more pleasant future. With the last girl, the gold lands in her stocking, which has been hung over the fireplace to dry. Pastor Spring says:
"Nicholas served God. He knew that God gave us Jesus, even though we didn't deserve him. When we give, it shows God's love."Hearing this, Peter asks God to help him be more giving. On Christmas morning, his sisters find gifts in their Christmas stockings, and just as his mother opens the present Peter has given her, Peter's father bursts through the door and presents Peter with the model ship he's so wanted.
What I Like: Children will recognize themselves in this story's protagonist; Peter struggles with his desire to give and his own selfishness, just as most of us do. It's also nice that this book gives a peek at the story of the real Santa Claus. The illustrations by Jim Griffin are beautiful - realistic, compelling, and detailed.
What I Dislike: Nothing.
Overall Rating: Excellent.
Age Appeal: 4 - 8
Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 2004; ISBN: 0310708982; hardback; $15.99