All of these books are in our library and all are illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. Great Joy is by the wonderful Kate DiCamillo and along with the gentle illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline this is a book that will bring you great joy this Christmas.
Great Joy is not a new book. It was published in 2007 but oddly today was the first time I had read this important story and I am so glad I did. Did I tell you Kate DiCamillo will visit Australia (Sydney) in 2017? Read my review of Flora and Ulysses and Raymie Nightingale.
The adults don't seem to notice the man on the corner, an organ grinder with a monkey but Frances is a caring child. She is intrigued by the man, the monkey and the sad songs he plays. She wonders where they go at night as the streets fill with snow. Her mother cannot or will not answer her questions so Frances stays awake and at midnight she looks out through their living room window.
"It was the organ grinder who looked up. He took his cap from his head and raised it to her."
As Frances and her mother rush to the church for the Christmas pageant Frances stops to invite the man. "The organ grinder smiled at her. But his eyes looked sad." Frances stands on the stage ready to say her line in the play but she finds she simply cannot speak.
I do hope you can find this book to read for Christmas. Here is a treat you can listen to the first four pages of this book. I would pair this book with A Christmas star called Hazel and The Stone Lion by Margaret Wild. Kate explains the inspiration for her first picture book. You can see a video of the whole book here with an excellent narration.