by Sherrill Silberling
In the early 1920’s a family celebrates the Christmas and New Year holidays in eastern Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal region. Although the setting is specific, the themes are universal.
The foundations of which families are built — bonds of love, trust, and fun — and the perpetuation of family values and traditions are messages for all generations. Older readers may find nostalgic reminders of tales told by parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents. Younger readers will glimpse a humanized period in history they’ve met only in textbooks while recognizing situations and emotions that feel contemporary and familiar.
The author has created characters modeled on her mother’s family and plots inspired by her mother’s stories delivered in a style reminiscent of oral storytelling. The result is a blend of fact, fiction, and a sprinkling of fantasy to illustrate that gifts come in a variety of forms, tangible and intangible, and flow through our lives like a river.