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Grace at Christmas



Warm tale of a girl opening heart and home for the holiday.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers are exposed to the far-away places of Gambia in Africa and the Caribbean island of Trinidad. 

Positive messages

Grace learns that sharing Christmas with friends in need is not such a bad thing -- in fact, it adds to the fun of a holiday celebration. 

Positive role models

Grace's Nana and Ma are open and generous, and sensitive to Grace's having a rough time sharing her home at Christmas. They encourage her to open up to the guests, who are strangers to Grace. Grace's papa calls from Gambia to wish her a merry Christmas, showing his desire to stay connected, even though he has another family there since divorcing her mother. Grace's diverse group of friends at school off her comfort and encouragement when she vents about the unexpected visitors. 

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this seventh book in the series that started with Amazing Grace deals with having house guests from her Nana's native Trinidad at Christmas. Grace has to sleep on the couch, learn to get along with a girl her age, and cope with her disappointment that she will never get to spend Christmas with both her parents, because they are divorced and her father lives in the African nation of Gambia with his other family. 

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What's the story?

Grace is excited for Christmas with Ma and Nana to come, until she learns that another woman and her daughter -- who is Grace's age -- will be staying over because of a snafu with their flight back to Trinidad. Grace is angry she has to sleep on the couch and sad she can't be with both her parents because they are divorced and her papa lives in Gambia. When Grace finds Savannah crying because she can't be with her papa on Christmas, either, they bond and have fun putting on a Christmas play for the family in the apartment.

Is it any good?


The story does an excellent job of showing the changing emotions of young Grace. She is thrown at first by Christmas not being what she had imagined it would be, then finds it more fun with the addition of two strangers who needed a place to stay. The expressive watercolors amplify the mood shifts and help the reader experience Grace's initial trepidation and ultimate joy.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what it's like to not have the holiday you imagined in your mind. Do your high expectations sometimes get in the way of enjoying the celebration as it unfolds? 

  • At first Grace doesn't like the idea of having to move out of her room so the visitors can sleep there. Does that ever happened when relatives come to spend the holiday with you?  

  • This is the latest book in the Grace series. Have you read any others? How does this one compare? What is it about the Grace character that makes kids enjoy these books so much?

Book details

Author:Mary Hoffman
Illustrators:Cornelius Van Wright, Ying-Hwa Hu
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Dial Books
Publication date:October 13, 2011
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):3 - 8

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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