Ezra Jack Keats' The Little Drummer Boy and Four More Holiday Stories



Scholastic drums up memorable multicultural tales.
  • Review Date: November 15, 2006
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 42 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

One boy learns an important lesson about giving to those less fortunate. Stories are multicultural and honor diverse holiday traditions.

Violence & scariness

Some threats by neighborhood bullies in the story Merry Christmas, Space Case.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Little Drummer Boy, one of four stories included in this Scholastic collection, is about the birth of Jesus. In the story Sam and the Lucky Money, a young Asian-American boy encounters a homeless man in Chinatown while celebrating Chinese New Year with his mother. In Merry Christmas, Space Case, a boy is threatened by two neighborhood bullies. And in The Tomten, the title characters, who look like trolls or gnomes, were considered spirit beings connected to the winter solstice and the pagan celebration of Yuletide.

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Just one of four stories in this holiday collection, the version of The Little Drummer Boy on this DVD is really just the traditional song -- "pa rum pa pum pum"-- sung to some beautiful illustrations by John Ezra Keats. The next story is Merry Christmas, Space Case by James Marshall, in which Buddy McGee waits for his friend from outer space, who promised to visit him on Christmas. When the space creature doesn't come, the boy panics because he's already told the intimidating Goober twins about his friend. The next short, Sam and the Lucky Money, a book by Karen Chinn, is a wonderful story about a young Chinese boy who finds compassion for a homeless man he meets in Chinatown. And in The Tomten, a classic Scandinavian folktale, a bearded, gnome-like character goes around in the night whispering encouragement to sleeping animals and children. This set also includes a bonus story, The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Is it any good?


In unison, these distinct, cross-cultural stories make for a well-rounded winter holiday exploration. The Little Drummer Boy it might be the least interesting and engaging to your little ones. The other three stories offer much more.

Christopher Lloyd provides the delightfully manic narration for Merry Christmas, Space Case; the young character in Sam and the Lucky Money expresses truly heartfelt compassion, and The Tomten, updated by Astrid Lindgren (author of Pippi Longstocking), is considered the perfect bedtime story in Northern Europe for good reason.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the different cultures and celebrations presented in these stories. What's familiar to you, and what's different? What do you like about the holidays and traditions your family doesn't celebrate? Families can also discuss who the children meet in the stories and how it changes them. Why does Sam give his money to the homeless man? How does the space creature teach the bullying twins a lesson?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 1, 2006
DVD release date:October 31, 2006
Cast:Christopher Lloyd, Ming-Na, Owen Jordan
Director:Ezra Jack Keats
Genre:Family and Kids
Run time:42 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Ezra Jack Keats' The Little Drummer Boy and Four More Holiday Stories was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Cute animated tale with some mild peril and scary bugs.
  • Gross-out laughs meet a marvelous fairytale mix.
  • Sweet fairy tale classic for little princes and princesses.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 4 years old July 23, 2012

Scary , but encourages charity

my kids cried at the part with the bullies. But my kids want to help poor people now.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide