The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll

The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll

2.7 4
by Patricia C. McKissack, Jerry Pinkney

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Newbery Honor–winning author McKissack and Caldecott Medal–winning illustrator Pinkney have outdone themselves in this heart-warming story infused with humor and the true spirit of Christmas.

Christmas always comes to Nella’s house, but Santa Claus brings gifts only once in a while. That’s because it’s the Depression and Nella


Newbery Honor–winning author McKissack and Caldecott Medal–winning illustrator Pinkney have outdone themselves in this heart-warming story infused with humor and the true spirit of Christmas.

Christmas always comes to Nella’s house, but Santa Claus brings gifts only once in a while. That’s because it’s the Depression and Nella’s family is poor. Even so, Nella’s hoping that this year she and her two sisters will get a beautiful Baby Betty doll.

On Christmas morning, the girls are beside themselves with excitement! There is Baby Betty, in all her eyelash-fluttering magnificence. “Mine!” Nella shouts, and claims the doll for herself. But soon she discovers that Baby Betty isn’t nearly as much fun as her sisters. Would it be more fun to share this very best gift with them after all?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Starred Review, Booklist, September 15, 2007:
"Parents looking for books on sharing will find this an appealing exploration of the subject, teachers seeking picture books set during the Depression will find many details that bring the period to life. A gentle lesson that plays into the spirit of the holiday."
-Carolyn Phelan

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2007:
“Full of humorous dialogue and scenes of realistic family life showing the close bonds within the family. Pinkney’s watercolor illustrations are masterful, as always…” - Kirkus Review

Review, The New York Times Book Review, December 2, 2007:
"An evocative book with a universal message."

Krystyna Poray Goddu
The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll is a rich portrait of a poor black family in the midst of the Depression. Written by Patricia C. McKissack, the winner of numerous awards, and illustrated by the equally renowned Jerry Pinkney, it has the look, sound and feel of a classic. McKissack's direct and unfettered language partners beautifully with the vivid tones of Pinkney's pencil-and-watercolor illustrations. Inspired by a true story, The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll is an evocative book with a universal message.
—The New York Times
Abby McGanney Nolan
Jerry Pinkney's lovingly detailed, pencil-and-watercolor illustrations reveal a humble but lively place where the family members and their colorful clothes stand out from subdued brown-and-gray surroundings.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

In expertly wrought watercolors, Pinkney focuses on how light hits certain objects-voluptuous oranges, a new patchwork quilt, a baby doll's yellow frock-which are some literal bright spots for a family holding onto the positive despite their Depression-era struggles. The newspapers that line the walls and three-to-a-bed sleeping conditions fade, ceding to the clan's Christmas observance. McKissack's story shines as well, homing in on the most straightforward language to convey realistic but difficult situations: "Christmas always came to our house, but Santy Claus only showed up once in a while." Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal

Gr 2-5-During the Great Depression, the all-black town of Boykin, AL, was identified as "the poorest place in America." "Santy" hardly ever showed up, but this year middle-child Laura Nell Pearson writes him a letter asking for a Baby Betty doll that she's seen advertised in a newspaper. Her two sisters are scornful, but to their amazement, the doll appears on Christmas morning. Of course there's a fight, and Daddy and Mama tell the girls to work it out. Laura convinces her sisters that the doll belongs to her, but soon discovers that playing with an inanimate object isn't as much fun as it is to play with real live sisters, and in the end invites them to a tea party for Baby Betty. McKissack's knack for combining historical detail with true-to-life family drama and language is shown to good effect, showcased beautifully by Pinkney's evocative watercolors, which give a real flavor of the time period. An author's note at the beginning gives the history of the story. Learning to appreciate what you have and to share what you get are two lessons that never go out of style.-Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
McKissack and Pinkney join forces for their third collaborative effort in this story of three sisters who have to share one doll for Christmas during the Depression. The middle sister, Nella, writes to Santa to ask for a Baby Betty doll, even though she knows there isn't much chance of receiving her due to her family's modest circumstances. On Christmas morning, the girls each receive a little bag of treats, but there is only one doll for all of them, leading to bickering and arguments. The wise parents tell their daughters to sort it out for themselves, and they do: Nella claims the doll as her own, and the other sisters ignore her and continue to play together. Nella finds that her sisters are more fun to play with than a silent doll, so she decides to share Baby Betty. The longer story is full of humorous dialogue and scenes of realistic family life showing the close bonds within the family. Pinkney's watercolor illustrations are masterful, as always, capturing the emotions on the girls' faces and filling in details of the family's Depression-era world. (author note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.85(w) x 11.33(h) x 0.43(d)
AD650L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Patricia C. McKissack is the author of The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural, a Newbery Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Award Winner, and its companion, Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters, and other Wily Characters, an ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Book. Ms. McKissack has collaborated with Jerry Pinkney on two previous picture books: Goin’ Someplace Special, a Coretta Scott King Award Winner, and Mirandy and Brother Wind, a Caldecott Honor Book and a Coretta Scott King Award Winner. Her most recent book, Never Forgotten, was a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and received five starred reviews. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Jerry Pinkney received the Caldecott Medal for his wordless retelling of The Lion and the Mouse. He has illustrated more than one hundred books, among them five Caldecott Honor books, including Mirandy and Brother Wind, written by Patricia C. McKissack; five New York Times Best Illustrated Books; and five Coretta Scott King Award winners. Some of his most beloved titles are The Talking Eggs, John Henry, The Ugly Duckling, Goin’ Someplace Special, and The Tortoise and the Hare. Mr. Pinkney lives in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, with his wife, author Gloria Jean Pinkney.

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The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll 2.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why do you care?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why did you write such a long review?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book resonates with me because of the lessons it teaches, but the great thing is that Patricia C. McKissack gets these lessons across so well that kids who read it won¿t feel like they¿re being ¿preached¿ at. Three of the most important lessons I got from the book are: 1. People are more important than things First, McKissack does a beautiful job of demonstrating through a bit of humor that people are indeed more important than things. When Nella first claims Baby Betty as her own, she has a great time playing all alone with her¿for a while. Then Nella gets increasingly frustrated when Baby Betty doesn¿t respond to her stories or songs until she finally sees her sisters in the other room having a great time playing together and feels sad and lonely. It¿s not until she invites her sisters to join her and Baby Betty for tea that she truly has a good time. In fact EVERYONE has a good time, and Nella is finally able to say it was the best Christmas ever. 2. Be thankful for what you have The second lesson the book teaches us it to be thankful for what you have. The Pearson¿s have to fill the cracks and line the walls with newspaper to keep the cold out. They are in the Great Depression, and money 'and work and food and toys' is hard to come by. Yet, when the girls receive their bags of raisins and nuts for Christmas, they are very pleased because it¿s the most they¿ve ever received. And when they get the Baby Betty doll, they are excited beyond belief. Children who are used to receiving tons and tons of gifts may be horrified at the meager gifts the girls receive, and it¿s a perfect opportunity to let them know that are many kids out there who are less fortunate than them. It could also be a good time to introduce them to charitable giving and get them involved in helping out kids who are less fortunate. Perhaps volunteer at a local food bank, participate in a toy drive, or ¿adopt a family¿ for the holidays. Your children may have great pleasure going out and finding the ¿perfect¿ gift. 3. Share what you are fortunate enough to have Finally, McKissack shows us that by sharing what you do have, everyone wins. Nella is miserable until she asks her sisters to join in the fun and have tea with ¿their¿ Baby Betty doll. A great lesson, especially if you have kids who squabble over toys and other things a lot.