One year at Christmas, Tommy excited runs downstairs to see all of his presents, but stops short when he discovers his precious gingerbread house is gone. Crumbs litter the plate. Instead of eating the cookies and milk set out for him, Santa ate Tommy's gingerbread house! Tommy gets terribly upset. First he's sad; then he's mad. He decides he doesn't care about Christmas or presents or Santa and especially not about being good. He decides to be naughty.
Throughout the entire following year, Tommy is naughty. He pulls all sorts of nasty tricks in each month of the year! When Christmas comes, he's not excited. He knows he will get nothing but coal in his stocking. When he finally inches downstairs, Tommy is shocked to see loads of presents. A letter from Santa pokes out the top of his stocking.
In the letter Santa apologizes for eating Tommy's gingerbread house. He says he hopes Tommy enjoys the presents and explains that Tommy doesn't get presents for being good, but simply because he is loved. Santa's letter goes on to explain that this is the same reason God gave us Jesus.
"God didn't give us the best present ever because we were good. He gave us Jesus because he loves us very, very much. And because of Jesus, He gives us eternal life as a free gift..."
Santa's final words encourage Tommy to try to be good because "it makes me, your mommy and daddy, and God very happy ... And, if we really love Jesus, we will want to be good, and will be sorry when we are naughty."
Tommy is thrilled! He decides to be good. And to make another awesome gingerbread house.
What I Like: The concept is solid and presented in a really cute way. The author makes grace very clear. He does a great job of refuting a works-based salvation and glorifying the truth of God's free gift to those who believe. This is all done with a child-friendly approach. I liked the part in which Tommy's naughty acts are described. This section is rhythmic and creative, something that definitely appeals to young readers.
What I Dislike: Overall, this book presents a self-published feel. I would love to see more strength in the writing. Some parts seem long-winded and slow. I don't particularly care for the illustrations. They lacked detail. I definitely associate bolder hues and crisper lines with the holiday season. The use of pastels seemed an odd choice to me.
Overall Rating: Good.
Age Appeal: Not specified, but I would say ages 4-8.
Publisher Info: Dunrobin Kids, 2012; ISBN: 0988461307; Paperback; 40 pages; $9.99
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Special Info: See our review of another book by this author/illustrator team: Why Do We Celebrate Easter?