What Child Is This?: A Christmas Story

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Not everyone is lucky at Christmas. Some people would call 16-year-old Liz Kitchell and her family truly fortunate, but it doens't feel that way to her. It seems that only a miracle can give 8-year-old Katie her holiday wish. She wants a family, something she does not have as a foster child. As for 17-year-old Matt, he too is in a foster home and is finally letting himself feel a sense of belonging. When he allows himself to do a good deed for Katie, he doesn't realize what would happen. Is the spirit of ...

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Overview

Not everyone is lucky at Christmas. Some people would call 16-year-old Liz Kitchell and her family truly fortunate, but it doens't feel that way to her. It seems that only a miracle can give 8-year-old Katie her holiday wish. She wants a family, something she does not have as a foster child. As for 17-year-old Matt, he too is in a foster home and is finally letting himself feel a sense of belonging. When he allows himself to do a good deed for Katie, he doesn't realize what would happen. Is the spirit of Christmas strong enough to grant the impossible?

When seventeen-year-old Matt tries to find a family for an eight-year-old foster child, his attempt backfires and both of them need a Christmas miracle.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Sarah A. Hudson
A departure from Cooney's adventure and suspense novels, this, too, is a page turner. The modern Christmas story centers on three teenagers, Tack, Liz, and Matt, whose lives are intertwined during the holidays. Liz is the younger daughter of materialistic parents, for whom Christmas is a party. She has a crush on classmate Tack, whose strong, close family owns a restaurant, the River Wind Inn, where the Christmas tree displays bells expressing the Christmas wishes of underprivileged children. Matt, a foster child for many years, works at the River Wind Inn. He has become a survivor of the foster system by daring not to feel hope, only anger. These three are brought together by the hope and need of Katie, Matt's younger foster sister, whose Christmas wish is to have a family. Cooney's characters come alive. Matt's frustration and anger are realistic, as are Liz's and Matt's quests for more meaning in their lives. Cooney gives us excellent Christian fiction, as well as an uplifting novel of the human spirit. The story is not just about how Katie finds a family at Christmas, but also about how Matt and Liz learn to think of others more than the adults in their lives have taught them to do. Allowing themselves to feel all emotions, seek community, and believe in a high power bring meaning to their lives. This beautiful novel deserves to be read by many. The story evokes such emotion that I am still thinking and talking about it with friends and colleagues. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
School Library Journal
Gr 5-10A heart-tugging story with an upbeat ending, told in alternating chapters by the young people involved. Eight-year-old Katie, an emotionally starved foster child, writes a wish on a paper bell that will be hung on a Christmas tree in a local restaurant. There, members of the community can choose a request and give a gift to a needy child. However, Katie doesn't ask for toys or clothingshe wishes for a family. Although the social worker says her request is inappropriate, Matt, a high school student who lives in the same foster home and works in the restaurant, hangs the bell on the tree. Liz, Matt's classmate, is upset when her uncaring father reads the wish, calls it ridiculous, and tears up the bell. Meanwhile, Liz's older sister struggles with her grief over the recent death of her baby. When Matt tells Katie on Christmas Eve that her wish will not come true, the devastated girl runs out into a blizzard, setting off a chain of events that brings about a resolution befitting a holiday tale. Showing her flair for adolescent angst, Cooney allows the characters to speak for themselves, eventually weaving their lives together into a fitting climax. A moving, fast paced novel, sure to appeal to Cooney's fans.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385323178
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 10/6/1997
  • Pages: 147
  • Age range: 10 - 15 Years
  • Lexile: 750L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.46 (w) x 7.86 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Caroline B. Cooney is the author of Goddess of Yesterday (an ALA Notable Children’s Book); The Ransom of Mercy Carter; and The Face on the Milk Carton (an IRA–CBC Children’s Choice). She lives in Westbrook, CT.

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Read an Excerpt

It's Christmas, the season of miracles, joy, and hope.  Is that spirit strong enough to bring about the impossible?

"Katie, age 8, wants a family." Katie 's Christmas wish is perfectly simple.  And perfectly impossible.  Katie lives in a foster home with fifteen-year-old Matt, another foster child who is so frozen that the warmth of Christmas can't even begin to thaw him.

A family, thought Katie.  You'd sit on their laps, and their hugs would last and last.

Not hugs like social workers gave: quick as grades.

Hugs like mothers gave: wrapping-you-up hugs.

Hugs like father gave: hoisting-you-into-the-air and tossing-you-around hugs.

Being a foster kid was like living in a blender.  Life was always flinging you against sharp blades.

But amazingly, as Christmas approached, Matt was suddenly willing to help Katie with spelling and arithmetic.  Matt was silent but mean; mean from years of no family...and Matt helped her.

She wondered if he would let her walk with him part of the way to the restaurant when he went to work tonight.  Sometimes he did, and sometimes he would let her stop and talk about the pretty decorations people had.  Once, he had held her hand.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 20 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2000

    BOOORING

    THIS BOOK IS NOT GOOD AT ALL. THIS BOOK IS BORING. I HAD TO STOP AT THE THIRD CHAPTER. I COULD NOT READ ON.

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