In Dandi Daley Mackall's "I Can Read!" Level 1 early reader book, An Ali Cat Christmas, Katy is in love with the trappings of Christmas. She loves to wrap presents, decorate Christmas trees, and open lots of gifts on Christmas morning. On Christmas Eve, Katy, her mom, and her cat (named Ali Cat) drive over to Grandma's house for a visit. Katy isn't all that enthusiastic because Grandma has a tiny, tabletop tree with only a few gifts under it - and she's pretty sure her gift is a pair of socks. "Granny always makes us socks," Katy says.
When it begins snowing, Katy has a grand time outside, but when she learns the snow will prevent them from going home that night, she's sad. It just won't be Christmas without the gifts under their Christmas tree, she thinks.
That night, they read the biblical Christmas story and Katy and Ali Cat fall asleep on the floor - much like Mary and Joseph might have. The next morning, Katy opens her socks. When her mother says the snow will allow them to go home now, Katy says, "Could we stay here longer? Ali Cat and I are having a very merry Christmas!"
Throughout, illustrations by Janet McDonnell bring the story to life.
What I Like: The idea that Christmas is Christmas even without presents is a welcomed one.
What I Dislike: It's unclear why Katy has her change of heart. Before she goes to bed, she's sad to be away from home on Christmas, when she wakes up, she doesn't mind. We never really learn why.
Overall Rating: Good.
Age Appeal: 4 - 8.
Publishing Info: Zonderkidz, 2008; ISBN: 9978-0310717034; paperback, $3.99