by Melissa Ann Goodwin
Don't be fooled, this is not a Christmas book. Sure, it takes place at Christmas time, but Christmas is not the overall theme of the story. Jamie Reynolds and his mother are facing difficulties in their hometown. They are being snubbed and have lost friends because of something terrible Jamie's father has done. The reader must be patient with this as the author does not reveal what he actually did until late in the book.
Jamie's mother decides that the two of them need a break from all the talk and stares so they go to visit Jamie's grandparents in another town. Jamie is understandably upset about his father and how he and his mother are being treated. His grandmother has an adorable model of Canterbury, a little Christmas village. Jamie imagines that the little people live perfect lives and he makes a quiet wish to live in Canterbury.
At midnight on Christmas Eve, Jamie hears voices coming from the village. Upon closer inspection he sees that the village has come alive. Two little children are skating on an ice pond when the ice breaks and the girl falls through. Jamie reaches out his hand to save the girl and is instantly transported into the village of Canterbury.
Although he literally seems to have come from nowhere, the good people of Canterbury take Jamie in and care for him. He discovers while Canterbury is indeed a wonderful place, it is far from perfect. The year is 1932 and Canterbury is struggling during The Great Depression. Many are having a hard time making a living and supporting their families.
This book is filled with interesting and exciting events that young readers will enjoy. What child has not fantasized about shrinking down and visiting a model city? Jamie makes new friends, but also makes an enemy in the dangerous and troublesome, James Gordon. In the end, a shocking event happens and Jamie is up against the clock. If he wants to return home before Christmas he must choose between going back or helping his friends. Children will like how this book turns out and will be shocked at the surprise twist at the end.
The Christmas Village reminded me of The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone.
I would recommend it for an independent read for grades 4-6 and for a read aloud for grades 3-5.
Melissa Ann Goodwin's second book, Return to Canterbury is also available. Please visit Melissa Ann Goodwin's website to learn more about her books.