I recently took a copy of A Little Women Christmas (Simon & Schuster, 2014) to read with my Reading Buddy, Heidi. Author Heather Vogel Frederick took the story of Mr. March’s surprise homecoming from Louisa Mae Alcott’s classic, Little Women, and adapted it for 4-7 year olds. Who better to review a book than someone it was written for?
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Heidi is in kindergarten, so we usually spend time working on learning letters and beginning sight words, but I asked Heidi if, that day, she would help me read a new book. I pulled the book out of my bag and as I told Heidi a little about Little Women, I could see the girl at the table behind us listening, a light in her eyes, craning to see the book. The illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline, rich in color and detail, captured her eye.
I explained to both of them that Little Women is really for older girls, 10 or older, to read, but that Frederick wanted younger girls to enjoy the story, too. I am sure that our little neighbor would have been happy to sit and read with us, but her recess bell rang so she reluctantly said goodbye, and we settled in to read.
Frederick lived in Concord as a girl, biking past Orchard House, the Alcott family home, almost daily, and saving her babysitting money to visit it as often as she could. “It was incredibly inspiring to me to see the rooms where Louisa lived and worked,” she recently wrote. “The half-moon desk that her father, Bronson Alcott, built for her so that she could have a place to write; the dining room where she and her sisters put on plays, just like my sisters and I did—I couldn’t get enough of it.” She cites Alcott as one of her inspirations, setting her highly successful Mother Daughter Book Club series in Concord.
A Little Women Christmas captures the liveliness and family love that permeates the original novel, getting to the heart of the true meaning of Christmas with its messages of love, goodwill and sharing. When Jo and Laurie give Beth a surprise of a snow maiden, it is amusing and heartwarming. And when Mr. March walks into the room after being away at war and wounded, I choked up, just like when I read the novel.
But what did Heidi think? As we read, she moved closer and closer to me and to the book, as if she wanted to step right into the pictures. When we reached the final page, we read it together. I closed the book and she announced, “I loved that book.” When I asked her what, especially, she mentioned the sisters, the snow maiden, then sighed and declared, “I loved everything about it.”
What better endorsement is there?
Be sure to enter to win a copy of A Little Women Christmas, autographed by author Heather Vogel Frederick.