by Patricia Polacco
I love true stories, even if they are only based on a true story. Patricia Polacco is well known for the beautiful accounts of her own family stories. This book tells of Frankie, who is Patricia Polacco's grandmother's youngest brother. It is the story of Frankie's last Christmas and the power of giving when you don't think you have anything to give.
Frankie's mother was a great example of giving. She generously made breakfast every morning for the train engineer and "hobos" who hopped off the train when they made their stop near the Stowell home. The best part is, she always recruited her nine children to help. It was on one of those mornings that Frankie saw one old man who drew his attention as being particularly cold in the December snow. As the man washed up, Frankie could see he had no shirt on under his tattered jacket. Quickly, Frankie ran up to his room and grabbed the only sweater he knew would fit the man. It was his best sweater.
Frankie didn't want to tell his mother he had given away his best sweater, especially because money was so tight and the sweater had been a gift from his sister. The night before Christmas Eve Frankie's sister tells him that she's made him a muffler to match the beautiful sweater. Frankie believes he has done something wrong, and holds it all in to not spoil Christmas for everyone.
Although I think this story could have held up on its own as a great read just with that story alone, Polacco continues on to tell about Frankie's father getting stuck in bad weather while on his way to get the traditional family oranges for Christmas. There is a lot more to this story, and in the end I think it sounds like she tacked on the ending of "The Christmas Orange," but it's still a fantastic book and well worth the read. And if it really did happen, I love the story all the more!
So peel open a Christmas Orange and read a good book!
images via www.patriciapolacco.com