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The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sneve (Lana’s Lakota Moons) warm, nostalgic story recalls a holiday season on the reservation where her father was the Episcopal priest. Virginia has outgrown her tattered winter coat, but when a donation of used clothing arrives, the girl, guided by her mother’s admonishment (“The others need it more than we do”), doesn’t end up with the coat she longs for. Beier’s detailed, pastel-dominated watercolor and gouache paintings affectingly convey Virginia’s swirling emotions as she tries to reconcile her longing for the coat, her jealousy of the girl who gets it, and her obedience to her mother, which is eventually rewarded. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—Based on the author's 1940s childhood on a Sioux reservation in South Dakota, this richly descriptive narrative is well matched by detailed and expressive watercolors. Together they tell a poignant, heartwarming tale that evokes a real feel for the time and culture. Virginia dreams of a new winter coat, but being the child of the Episcopal priest means getting the last of the pickings from the "Theast boxes," cartons of used clothing from church congregations in New England. Luckily, a surprise donation means that Virginia has a happy and warm Christmas after all.—Maureen Wade, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews

This straightforward, heartfelt reminiscence recalls a Christmas season from the author's childhood on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, a time when she needed a new winter coat and her younger brother needed snow boots.

When boxes of donated clothing arrive before Christmas, Virginia and her brother are the last to receive anything. Because their father is the Episcopal priest at the reservation, the children are trained to let others take precedence. A snotty rival of Virginia's selects a fur coat that Virginia covets, and when that doesn't suit, she later takes the plain cloth coat set aside for Virginia as well. But on Christmas Eve, two special boxes sent just for the priest's children are set out for Virginia and her brother, containing a soft red coat and sturdy cowboy boots. The story unfolds in a linear, matter-of-fact way reminiscent of the writing of Laura Ingalls Wilder, with school and family scenes and a strong sense of the main character's emotions and family ties. Realistic illustrations in watercolor and gouache capture the snowy, flat landscape, the simple schoolroom and the crowd of children each experiencing something different at the holiday events.

Virginia's personality shines through in this poignant story that entertains and informs without recourse to stereotypes. (Picture book. 5-9)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823421343
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/12/2011
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 225,089
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD740L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.50 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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