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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Review: Cole Family Christmas by Jennifer Liu Bryan with Hazel Cole Kendle

Title: Cole Family Christmas: A Treasured Tale, A Gift to Share
Author: Jennifer Liu Bryan with Hazel Cole Kendle
Illustrations: Jenniffer Julich
Pages: 74
Publisher: Next Chapter PR (September 15, 2008)
Genre: Childrens/Family/Historical Fiction/Holiday
Edition: Hardback - many thanks to Lisa of Online Publicist for sending me a copy to review just in time for the holidays!!

Update: I must apologize - I thought this review was published automatically during the week prior to Christmas, but just found that it was sitting there in draft form. If you have read this book, let me know and I'll add your review, and if you haven't read it, I hope you will pick it up - it is a wonderful family story!

Perfect for : Family reading / Children

In a nutshell: This is a beautifully written and illustrated book full of fun family memories. Written by the youngest Cole child, Hazel, and her grand-daughter-in-law Jenniffer, the authors write a wonderful story that retells a favorite family Christmas that took place just before the Depression. I had so much fun taking a walk down memory-lane with this book. While I did not grow up in a coal town, I did enjoy making my list for Santa from the Sears Wish Book each year when I was younger! I also remember sitting with my parents and reading from family books each night, which is something the Cole family does. Finally, the book leaves the reader with a powerful message of love, family, and Christmas wishes.

Stop by here to read the first chapter!

Extended Review: With nine children in the house, something was bound to happen sooner or later, and the story starts with one of Mother Cole's favorite carnival glass bowls accidentally being broken. That night after dinner, the children get to look through the special Wish Book and choose something they want to write to Santa for.

Christmas Eve arrives and the family gets ready for the town holiday party. The party ends early as the miners need to try to get one more load onto the train and out of the town before the snow storm shuts the rails down. All through the night, Mother Cole stays up to make sure her husband returns safely, and the children pray for his safe return.

With the worst snow storm in 100 years, the family fears that Santa won't be able to make it to their house, but the children each receive a precious gift that they will always cherish.

Characters: The members of the Cole family make up a heart-warming group. The main character of the story is Ruble, whom the authors disclose as the families main story-teller. This wonderful family will work its way into your heart and help you remember what the holidays are really about!

Story-line: I can see why Hazel chose to retell this family story with the help of her grand-daughter-in-law - it is a wonderful story, and I hope to have many family memories like this one.

Readability: A very fun and easy read, great for children and adults alike.

Overall: A wonderful family-friendly holiday story. This wonderful family will work its way into your heart and help you remember what the holidays are really about! I hope you will join me in adding this book to your holiday collection.

From Amazon:
The wish book.
This amazing year, the nine children in the Cole family have been allowed to sit down with the Sears, Roebuck and Company catalogue to choose the gift they would most like to receive for Christmas. This is a rare event, for the Coles are not wealthy.

Indeed, Cole Family Christmas is the true, tender, and wholly unforgettable tale of a coal miner's family. The story takes place in the small company town of Benham, Kentucky, in a time (1920) and place when coal was king and families made their precarious living mining the dirty and sometimes deadly coal.

When one of Mama's few possessions, a treasured purple glass bowl with fluted edges, is accidentally broken by exuberant children rushing in from the outdoors, and an unlikely blizzard prevents Papa from coming home after working extra hours at the coal mine on Christmas Eve, the stage is set for a Christmas morning in which gifts are given and received that no one could have predicted.

From the Publisher
* Based on a real family, the youngest of nine children in the story, Hazel, is the 88-year-old co-author of the book.

* Set in the heart of Appalachian coal country in 1920, the book depicts a slice of life in the company town of Benham, Kentucky.

*The book explores the true meaning of Christmas as it follows the worries, fears, joy and love of a coal miner's family during the holiday.

First Paragraph:
The Cole house was strangely quiet. Ruble rocked her baby sister in the living room and wondered at its silence. Normally, the small house vibrated with the sounds of its eleven occupants. The doors creaked and dishes clattered, her brothers' and sisters' voices tumbled over one another, and their footsteps pounded against the wood floors.

About the book site: (from the publisher's site)
Jennifer Liu Bryan is the granddaughter-in-law of Hazel Cole Kendle.
She lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband Kendle and their son Jack.

Hazel Cole Kendle is the youngest and last surviving member of the nine Cole children.
She has four children, seven grandchildren, and one great- grandchild. She lives in Milford, Ohio.

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!


Anonymous said...

I've read positive reviews of this elsewhere, too. We have a big collection of holiday books, and will look for this one for next year.

Argh! Too bad about the auto-post!

Anonymous said...

I loved this book, I thought it was a great family read. I'm not sure how to link so you can just click on my name to see my review :)

Anna said...

I've heard a lot of good things about this one.

Diary of an Eccentric

Brimful Curiosities said...

I liked the old-fashioned feeling of this book. Here is my review:


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