Father Christmas

Children - Coming of Age
105 Pages
Reviewed on 12/31/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

What is the meaning of Christmas? And is Father Christmas real? Ten-year-old Annie is about to find out. The middle child of a large family, Annie’s parents assured her that she was old enough to stay up on Christmas Eve to meet Father Christmas when he comes to fill their stockings. She nearly floats through Christmas Eve day as she helps Mama with the baking, the younger siblings and going to the store for some last-minute purchases. The family’s not well off, being a coal mining family during the Depression years, but, as Daddy points out, at least he has a job. And, it’s enough to care for their large family with enough love and compassion to help others, including a hobo who appears on their doorstep Christmas Eve and accepts the invitation to join them for dinner. Annie is proud of her new status, but she’s in for an unexpected surprise when Father Christmas arrives. What she doesn’t expect is to discover the true meaning of Christmas: the joy and the love found within a person and within the family circle.

Rowdy Herrington’s early chapter book story, Father Christmas, is a treasure to warm your heart as we never can learn enough about the true meaning of Christmas. The author carves a compassionate plot around a large coal-mining family, struggling to make ends meet, while at the same time not losing touch with what it really means to love and to care. The characters are well developed; the setting is aptly described (with the assistance of several black-and-white sketches) and the plot develops at a steady pace. The message is clear and the telling is compassionate in a way that will have every reader’s eyes tear up. A powerful story and a great addition to a child’s Christmas library.

Heather Stockard

It’s almost Christmas in a 1935 coal town. Ten-year-old Annie O’Neill is the daughter of a miner, and one of seven children. This year, she’s finally old enough to stay up on Christmas Eve and she’s excited to see Father Christmas. Money is tight and there is tension between her parents. Her father must work on Christmas this year, despite being promised the day off. Still, Annie’s mother and father are determined to give their children a merry Christmas. The girls and their mother spend the day before Christmas cooking and baking, and that night Annie is allowed to sit up with the older children and her mother. As she watches her father decorate the Christmas tree and put out gifts, Annie has a realization about the identity of Father Christmas that leads to a deeper understanding of the true meaning of the season.

Father Christmas by Rowdy Herrington is a sweet holiday tale set in a depression-era coal town. While written for older children, adults will also enjoy Herrington’s lovely descriptions and accurate depiction of the lives of coal miners. The characters are well-written and realistic, and the struggles of the parents and the innocence of the children are touching. It’s really a tale of growing up, taking the first steps from childhood toward adulthood for one little girl. She’s a relatable character for many children who have gone through similar experiences and even for those who haven’t. This is a beautifully written story that is perfect for any reader looking for simple holiday charm.

Deborah Lloyd

Annie O’Neill, a ten-year-old girl living in Brilliant, Ohio, was looking forward to Christmas this year. She thought she would be old enough to stay up with her older siblings and meet Father Christmas for the first time. Annie’s father was a coal miner, and money was tight. However, her parents, Amos and Mary, worked hard to provide a wonderful holiday for the family. When Amos came home from working in the mines on Christmas Eve, Annie was filled with excitement at being included in the grown-up preparations. Annie was devastated when she learned who the real Father Christmas was. However, when she thought about what happened, she realized the true meaning of Christmas. Author Rowdy Herrington has crafted a beautiful Christmas story for older children in Father Christmas.

This book contains many important life lessons for children, with the most obvious being the revelation of the Christmas spirit. Family values are also explored, as all the family members share what they have, contributing to the wellbeing of the entire family. They find joy in the simple things in life – homemade bread, feeding a homeless man, and hand-me-down clothes. Including a typical workday for Amos working in the coal mines will be eye-opening for many children. The author has developed the main characters well, and any reader will be able to visualize each one clearly. The illustrations also add to the depth of the story. Father Christmas, written by Rowdy Herrington, will be a great addition to any elementary school-age child’s library. The story will remind each young reader of the true meaning of the holiday season.

Allison Warren

Truly a vivid coal country Christmas experience that will take you back to an important Christmas of you're own.