The Shine Man: A Christmas Story

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the first of several Depression-era tales, a penniless shoeshine man fashions an angel doll, a "spoolie," out of spools, yarn and cloth. When an urchin shows up, the "Shine Man" first gives the boy his threadbare cap, then his sock-gloves and, finally, the spoolie. In Quattlebaum's (Underground Train) lyrical, mystical tale, the man's generosity is unexpectedly rewarded when the boy reveals his identity ("the Heavenly Child") and spirits the man away. Ladwig (What Does the Sky Say?) effectively evokes the setting through the use of perspective and reflected light in his watercolor and acrylic illustrations. Ages 5-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
In the bad times before Christmas in 1932, a hobo shiner of shoes named Larry tries vainly to earn some money. A poor boy stops to admire the angel he has made from a spool and bits of cloth. Cold as it is, Larry gives his hat to the bareheaded boy. The next day the boy comes back, and he notices that he has given away his shoelaces. Larry gives the shivering boy his sock-gloves. The next night, Christmas Eve, when the boy returns sock-less, Larry wonders, "what fool gives his clothes away?" The boy wonders as well; but seems to "know" a lot. When Larry gives him the spool angel and shines his shoes, a miracle happens, for the boy, born in a barn, is the Heavenly Child, who takes Larry up with him into the sky to shine the rest of the night. For those who can believe in it, the parable is moving and inspiring. Ludwig's vision creates naturalistic, watercolor and acrylic double-page paintings with perspectives that emphasize the emotional thrust of the action—facial close-ups, birds-eye and shoe-level views, along with scenes of the grim reality of the Depression and the gradual spiritual enlightenment. 2001, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, $17.00. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-The Great Depression provides a suitably bleak background for this tale of generosity and redemption. On three successive days, Larry, a vagabond shoeshine man, gives his cap, his sock-gloves, and a spool-and-yarn angel (a "spoolie") to a poor boy. With nothing left to give, freezing and hungry, he shines the boy's shoes-and discovers he is "the One.-The Heavenly Child." Suddenly, Larry and the glowing youngster are flying over the town, hand-in-hand, "And all they did for the rest of the night-was shine." With a light touch, Quattlebaum leaves the deeper meaning of the story to readers' imagination: some may realize that Larry flies to heaven to become a star because he died; others may take the adventure at face value. The watercolor with acrylic illustrations feature dramatic perspectives, and many details (ornate gas lamps) to reinforce the period setting. Despite the handsome packaging, this metaphor-laden story may be a hard sell to children.-S. P. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802851819
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 8/28/2001
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.64 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.41 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2002

    Inspirational Christmas Story!

    This was truly a heartwarming Christmas story worthy enough to become a traditional read each Christmas! Set during the depression, this story breaks away from the typical cutesy Santa stories, but still gives children a different kind of wonder. The story is about Larry, a hobo, who becomes a shoeshine man. He has lost interest in people; that is until he meets a poor homeless boy. Larry soon discovers that his kindness to the boy, is not forgotten.

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