3 out of 4 stars
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Laura had high expectations for the big family Christmas celebration. A large extended family of aunts, uncles, and nine cousins would soon fill the house with love and laughter. Katie decorated the tree with popcorn and practiced her song for the play. Mom baked cookies and prepared a turkey for the family meal. Dad went to town to pick up the Christmas gifts the family had ordered from various catalogs.
Laura went to town with dad in the family truck. When they arrived at the store, Mrs. Hoffman gave Laura the small leftover piece of a candle they discovered in a box. Laura went back home with Aunt Kathy, but Dad stayed behind to work at the Christmas tree lot. By the time he was ready to head home, a big snowstorm was brewing. How would Dad and Uncle Dennis get back in all the snow? Laura was just a child, and her candle was so small. How could her little efforts make any difference when the storm was so strong?
The Little Candle by Richard W. Rogers is a children’s Christmas story set in the Blue Ridge Parkway of North Carolina. Laura, the main character, learned that being small is not the same as being insignificant. The story described many small acts of kindness that spread great happiness to others. I liked the positive parental modeling between the father and daughter on the drive into town. Katie, the quirky younger sister, added humor to the story with her unique clothing choices.
The characters spoke openly about their faith in God and belief in biblical teachings. Prayers flowed effortlessly from their hearts and lips. The author assumed readers would be familiar with the traditional Christmas story and delights readers with a modernized version of the Wise Men’s journey. Christians would enjoy this story, but all readers would feel their hearts warm with the love and generosity manifested by various characters in the narrative.
I thought the appearance of Pastor Mike in a Santa hat was out of place. The rest of the book emphasized the family’s faith and trust in the God of the Bible. Inserting this secular character into the narrative detracted from the story’s focus and message. I also noticed ten grammar errors and some anomalies in the illustrations. Laura’s dad drove a “light blue” truck that the illustrations consistently portrayed as red.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. The beautiful descriptions of the setting, the well-developed characters, and the positive message that little things can make a big difference made this a captivating story. The grammar errors and the awkward image of Pastor Mike in a Santa hat were my reasons for lowering the score. Readers of all ages would enjoy this book. Younger readers would learn that, even though they are still small, their small acts of kindness can bring joy to others. The Little Candle would enhance any family or school library as it opens hearts to the true spirit of Christmas: “a grateful heart filled with love.”
The little Candle
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