The Christmas Boot
by Lisa Wheeler
illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2016. 32 pages.
Here’s a wonderful new Christmas story. As the book opens, we see an older lady out in the snow. She has a hat, coat, and scarf, but her hands are bare.
Deep in the forest on Christmas morning, Hannah Greyweather gathered bundles of kindling wood. For her, this day was no different from any other. As she went about her chores, she chatted to the forest, she talked to the mountains, but mostly she spoke to herself.
“Brrrrr,” she said to the mountain. “Will this winter ever be over? It chills my bones.”
The mountain didn’t answer.
Then Hannah sees a boot in the snow.
“Glory be!” Hannah exclaimed to the forest. “Who could’ve lost this?”
The forest remained silent.
And since her feet were fully freezing, and since it looked to be such a nice boot, she slipped her rag-wrapped left foot deep within it.
“Ahhh,” Hannah said. “That does feel nice.”
It surely must have, for when she slid her tiny foot into the very large boot, it suddenly took on the shape and size of Hannah’s own foot. The boot fit perfectly.
That night, as she goes to sleep, Hannah says, “I only wish I had your mate.”
In the morning, a second boot is standing next to the first one.
Hannah’s so happy, when she goes to gather wood, she makes snow angels.
That night, Hannah placed her boots next to her bed and marveled at her good fortune.
“Such a magnificent find,” she said to the left boot. “Who could have lost such a treasure as you?”
The boot stood silent.
“No matter,” said Hannah. “I’ve made good use of you. If I had mittens as toasty warm, I would be the happiest woman in the world.”
And in the morning, there are bright red mittens tucked inside the boots.
“If the boot is magic,” Hannah said to the mittens, “will it give me more? Will it give me a fluffy feather bed? A fabulous feast? A big fancy house?”
The mittens stayed mute.
“I suppose that is too much to ask,” said Hannah. “I best get about my chores.”
Well, after her chores are finished, Hannah finds her wishes have indeed been granted, though these new ones don’t “fit” quite as well as the first wishes.
But then a man in a red hat and red suit knocks on the door. He is wearing one black boot. Hannah knows where the boot came from now, and she gives it back. When she does, all her wished-for items disappear.
When the man apologizes as the wishes disappear, Hannah says, “It is as it should be. The boot didn’t belong to me, but I enjoyed it while it was here.”
But Santa knows how to make it right.
This is such a lovely book, with very large pages and Jerry Pinkney’s colorful paintings. I especially like about it that Hannah isn’t greedy, and she has such a joyful spirit. She delights in the lovely warm things, but isn’t sad to give them up. And they help her realize that she doesn’t need much to be happy.
So the reader leaves smiling when Santa makes her very modest wishes come true.
With lots of words on each page, it’s appropriate for preschoolers who are good listeners and elementary school kids.
Just a warm and wonderful new holiday story.
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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.
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