Reading/Interest Level: Primary
Author: Susan Wojciechowski
Illustrator: P.J. Lynch
Johnathan Toomey is called Mr. Gloomy by the village children because he never smiles and sits alone carving wood most of the time. His life changes when the widow McDowell and her son, Thomas, come to him asking that he would carve a set of Christmas figures for her. As Thomas and the widow describe the pieces and watch him work, they are initially put off by Mr. Toomey’s gruffness. However, as Thomas provides Mr. Toomey with suggestions on how the figures should look, the widow and her son start to become friends with the woodcarver. Slowly Mr. Toomey begins to heal from the thing that made him so gloomy for so long through their friendship and thinking about the miracle of Christmas.
The 20th anniversary of this Christmas classic is a beautiful story of how love and Christmas can touch hearts. Thomas’s descriptions of the individual figures and characters in the nativity make the Christmas story feel more real to both Mr. Toomey and the readers. The anniversary edition has a new cover, but the story and the classic beautiful illustrations are the same as what previous readers of the book will remember. This book is a classic picture book that should not be missed during the Christmas season.