A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
A couple of instances of mild swearing.
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Products & Purchases
Some toy brands.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Matt's mother is a drug addict.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a tearjerker. If you're not up for weeping over it with your child, best to trot out Night Before Christmas instead. There are some toy brands mentioned, there is some mild swearing, and Matt's mother is a drug addict. Also, characters don't believe in Santa.
Is It Any Good?
Yes, this is a string of clichés: loving orphan needing a family, callous rich people, near death in the snow, warm hearts, happy endings, a few good sobs along the way. But when it's stylishly and lyrically done by a veteran YA novelist, and it's December, that most uncynical of months -- well, what more could anyone want? This is what happens when a cliché is put into the hands of a master.
Before the waterworks start in the last quarter of the book, take time to savor Caroline Cooney's beautiful writing, the way she allows the reader to climb inside the heads of the major characters, and the chapter titles, each a line from a different carol that relates to the story. Come January you may feel sheepish about having sobbed over this one, but during the holidays it touches the heart in the most satisfying way -- so powerfully, in fact, that it may get the whole family out of the house on a quest to help others.
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