13 December 2009


by Patricia MacLachlan

Siblings Lily and Liam look forward all year to Christmas on their grandparents' farm, where they will help Grandpa with the chores, take snowy walks, withdraw books from "the lilac library," and shop in the small village nearby for Christmas gifts. But this year Liam is worried; their favorite farm animal, "White Cow," is now alone and seems unhappy. And if it takes everything he has, Liam will make sure White Cow is no longer sad.

It's hard to put a finger on an era for this book. It reads as old-fashioned, almost 1940s, with no television, computers, videogames—the kids are actually voracious readers!—or even radio in sight. On the other hand, MacLachlan refers to "chapter books" and a volume about "the emotional lives of cows," which no one in the 1940s would have cared about. Not pinning the time down is probably deliberate, to make the story seem timeless, and in the end it does. It's a good-natured, sweet book about two kids who do a good deed, something you might read aloud on Christmas Eve by the light of the Christmas tree to younger children. Older kids might find it "corny."

I loved the beautifully detailed black-and-white illustrations as well.

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