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4.8 out of 5 stars40
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 12 April 2000
This book is one of the most wonderful stories I have ever read. A widowed wood carver, lost in self pity and the pain of a broken heart, is taught to live again by an irrepressable small boy - also suffering the loss of a loved one. Full of sentiment, yet without any sentimentality this book communicates the true spirit of Christmas in a story that can be read at any time. Susan Wojciechowski is a truly gifted writer, able to communicate so much so economically and P J Lynch's illustrations will take your breath way. Buy it for your children, your friends' children or yourself. It will stay with you forever.
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on 17 October 2002
This has been a family favourite in our house for nearly two years - and not just at Christmas time either. It's rare to find a children's book that deals with the serious matter of bereavement and this one gets it just right. No matter how often you are asked to read it, you will always be touched as Jonathan Toomey's lonely existence is gradually and convincingly transformed through his friendship with a little boy and his widowed mother.
The illustrations are quite beautiful and harmonise perfectly with the text.
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on 29 March 2006
I have nine children. I bought this book for the oldest two - probably over ten years ago. It is a beautiful book, wonderfully illustrated, with a great Christmas story.
I dislike sugary sentimentalism and one of the problems I have buying childrens books (particularly Xmas ones) is that the market is so over-loaded with 'sugar' that it's verging on a serious case of diabetes!
This book is not sugary, nor even particularly sentimental. It tells a fine story, quietly and with dignity.
Our copy is now so well thumbed I think I may have to buy another. It has been a favourite book of all our children (those able to give an opinion), and between them they cover a large range of tastes, opinions and ideas. I think it would be safe to say that pretty much any child that likes books will like this.
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on 30 January 2009
As a mother, childminder and Sunday school teacher I borrowed a pile of Christmas books to share with all the children in my life over the Christmas period. The first time I opened this book I was impressed with the fantastic illustrations, which were a great discussion tool for the younger of the children. Once we started reading the book I was totally engulfed as the story unfolded with a tale of a man who was misunderstood and mocked by the village children. "His name was Johnathan Toomey but the children called him Mr Gloomy". It tells the tale of a young widow and her son who arrive in an a town before Christmas to discover that their precious nativity figures have been lost in the move. They enlist the services of the village carpenter Mr Toomey, who is very unapproachable. Gradually the young boys discription of the figures and what it meant to each of the nativity figures to be at the birth of Jesus, begins to melt the heart of the readers as they feel the effect it has on the hardened Mr Toomy. This is a real heart warming tale that will bring tears to your eyes as it has to mine EVERY time I have read this book. This book is suitable for any age and younger children can grow into it. An ideal present for families.
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on 6 July 2008
This is such a fabulous story!

It is about a man whose wife and baby died many years ago, but he has been unable to come to terms with his loss. He still works as a woodcarver, so, one December, a widow and her young son ask him to carve some Christmas figures for them.

I first heard this story as a little girl at school and, thinking about it, I can see similarities between this and another of my favourite stories; Goodnight Mister Tom, by Michelle Magorian.

As I have already said, this is a fabulous story about coming to terms with the loss of a loved one (which, believe me, is difficult), especially the part of the story when Mr Toomey is trying to carve the last two figures; Mary and baby Jesus. It is just so.................. magical, as, each time I read it (I try not to read it that often, so that when I do read it, it will still be as magical as it was last time), I am able to feel just how emotional the character is at that point in the story. I won't say anymore.
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This is an absolutely beautiful story book. The illustrations and story are above and beyond normal childrens books.

The story is ultimately uplifting and happy and deals with the 'human' side of Christmas magic. It's an embodiment of what Christmas is all about.

It's not a sentimental or mushy tale but it did make me cry (have a tissue ready if you're the type of personality who cried when Bambi's mum died).

I don't want to spoil the story but it deals with a lone Scrooge type character who rediscovers the joy of life at Christmas time with the help of people in similar circumstances.

This book would also be extremely useful for any child dealing with bereavement whether it's Christmas time or not.

Very Highly Recommended.
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on 8 September 2000
I read this to my children as a bedtime story and cried my way all the way through it.This story is so special that it speaks directly to the heart.It is tender and beautiful and the illustrations are exceptional.This is the best book i have read in years. Oh and my children loved it too!
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on 28 October 2000
Beautifully drawn and written, this moving tale tells the story of a widowed Mr Toomey. He lives for his work so when a single Mother asks him to make a wooden nativity scene, how can he resist? He doesn't realise that with this job brings a young child who shows him not only how to make his nativity scene more special but how to enjoy the Holiday season. A must read for all ages
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on 3 January 2000
It draws the readers into the story line as if we are living next store. We are able to experience the emotions of all three characters. It establishes a feeling of lonliness, frustration, accomplishment, through to joy. I have enjoyed the listening too, and the reading through of this story many times through-out the holiday season. I will continue to hold onto this book as one of my very favorite. I thank the author and the illustrator for their heart in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. I pray that they would continue to write and distribute books of this excellence.
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on 2 March 2016
THIS IS AN UNUSUAL BUT NICE LITTLE STORY FOR ALL AGES REALLY - VERY SEASONAL. I WAS EXPECTING THE ILLUSTRATIONS THROUGHOUT TO BE SIMILAR TO THE FRONT COVER, BUT THEY WERE QUITE DIFFERENT - LARGE AND BOLD AND SOMETIMES ACROSS BOTH PAGES OF QUITE A LARGE SQUARE BOOK, WHICH IS OFTEN THE CASE WITH CHILDREN'S BOOKS LIKE THIS ONE. IT IS A BOOK WHICH WOULD SUIT BOYS PARTICULARLY, WHEN IT COMES TO CHILDREN, AS A YOUNG BOY IS ONE OF THE MAIN CHARACTERS.
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