Goodreads rating: 4027 (332 ratings)
My rating: 5
Endpapers: Front: an aerial view of the house, outhouses, and landscape during a winter storm/ Back: the same storm, looking at the house from the front, in the evening, and its close surroundings
Title Page: Double-page spread - a train stopped in the middle of a snowstorm on the middle of nowhere
Illustrations: trademark Patricia Polacco
1st page: "Every time I peel an orange and inhale the scent of it and feel the mist that sprays from its skin, I think of a very special Christmas and a flaxen-haired boy who lived many years before I was even born."
My comments: What a moving Christmas story! I was actually a little teary at the end. Based on a true story, as many of Ms. Polacco's are, this one was told by her grandmother and based on her grandmother's youngest brother. It is a story from a hundred years ago, still being kept alive and honored by her entire family. It is full of pictures of America's past. A large, hard-working family enjoys a simpler Christmas than we're used to, one steeped in traditions and hard work. A completely lovely "short story," illuminated by Patricia Polacco's incredible art. Loved it.
Goodreads: The Stowell family is abuzz with holiday excitement, and Frankie, the youngest boy, is the most excited of all. But there's a cloud over the joyous season: Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and Pa hasn't returned yet from his trip to Lansing. He promised to bring back the oranges for the mantelpiece. Every year there are nine of them nestled among the evergreens, one for each of the children. But this year, heavy snows might mean no oranges . . . and, worse, no Pa!This is a holiday story close to Patricia Polacco's heart. Frankie was her grandmother's youngest brother, and every year she and her family remember this tale of a little boy who learned--and taught--an important lesson about giving, one Christmas long ago.