Last year I rounded up a number of Christmas-in-the-City books and will be doing the same this December. My first selection is brand-new to the shelves and quite a treat: Brock Cole's old-fashioned, humorous tale The Money We'll Save.
With all the children busy with their chores, Ma must send Pa to the grocer's with a list. When she gives the warning, "Christmas is not far off, and we must save every penny," Pa returns with a young turkey for the family to fatten up for Christmas dinner. "Think of the money we'll save!" he proudly declares. As you might imagine, raising Alfred (as the turkey is now called) is no simple matter. The family experiments with creative ways to keep Alfred from overrunning the apartment, all to humorous effect. Mrs. Schumacher, the neighbor, makes a cameo now and then to complain about the noise and compounding chaos but the family's attachment to Alfred grows and they simply cannot eat him for dinner. What will they do?
Cole's quirky, touching and lively story, set in a nineteenth century tenement apartment, is full of surprises. Other than a few scenes at the market, the action of the story takes place in the family's apartment (or on the fire escape!), emphasizing the intimate nature of the story. End papers show a bevy of hanging laundry in a group of tenement buildings. But while these are people who hang, rather than send their laundry we are never allowed to get bogged down with heavy handed ideas about poverty and hardship. Rather, the lively and appealing illustrations carry us along a wave of joyful, creative and enthusiastic problem solving!
A truly enjoyable holiday read.
Read a review at Waking Brain Cells.
Book Aunt looks at some other Brock Cole books.
I'm guessing you'll see this book reviewed several times in the next few weeks!
Many thanks to the publisher, Farrar Straus Giroux, for kindly providing me with a review copy.