Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in
Pub Date: 09/01/1993
List Price: $24.95
In this story, Renfroe Madison, who was first introduced in D.J.’s Worst Enemy, is three years older. It is Christmastime, and while Renfroe’s spirits are high, he is more conscious than ever of his selfish streak. With the family’s worn-out Christmas tree angel—hung by Renfroe on their smokehouse door—acting as his conscience, Renfroe tries half-heartedly to curb his selfishness: Should he have split a 75-cent store credit more evenly instead of buying a 50-cent knife for himself and 25-cent one for his brother D.J.? Should he have given his lasso to three neighbors who got only an apple, an orange, and a candy bar for Christmas? Should he have given his yo-yo to Nutty, a good family friend? Renfroe didn’t really enjoy the yo-yo, and Nutty got nothing but clothes for Christmas. Then, a smile from a handicapped boy redeems Renfroe. He spontaneously gives the boy his brand-new Mickey Mouse watch—“the finest thing I’ve ever owned myself”—because of the happiness it will bring to its recipient.
Renfroe’s struggle to come to terms with himself is paced by the activities of everyday farm life, as well as by a hilarious Christmas pageant, an experiment to increase milk production by singing carols to the Madisons’ cows, and a longing for the snow that seldom falls south of Atlanta.
A gentle Christmas story, too merry to be sentimental but touched with sentiment. . . . The family scenes are natural and lively, the story giving a particularly pleasant picture of a rural community’s close-knit relationships.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
The rural regional quality of the story is strong, the details of church pageant and party are relayed with humor, and the conversations abound in briskness and poignancy.
This understated story with its excellent characterizations has year-round as well as holiday appeal.
—Library Journal (starred review)