Title: The Christmas Eve Ghost
Author: Shirley Hughes
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Concepts: scarcity, poverty, Great Depression, jobs, caring labor
Review: Bronwen and Dylan had moved to Liverpool with Mam after Da died in a mining accident. Mam found paid work washing other people's laundry, but because she could not afford a babysitter, she had to leave the children alone early in the mornings when she collected and returned the laundry. Then Bronwen and Dylan would keep Mam company all day while she worked in the washhouse at the back of their home. Some of their favorite times, though, were those precious evenings when they could sit in Mam's lap and listen to exciting stories.
Little did the children know that they would become part of a very real and thrilling story themselves when Mam had to step out on Christmas Eve and they heard some strange plonking noises coming out of the washhouse. If Father Christmas was too big to fit in the fireplace, could a scary ghost be causing those noises?
Set in England during the Great Depression, this book describes a single mother working her fingers to the bone to support her children while trying to provide them with as much love and guidance as she can. Also woven into the story is a surprising twist about tolerance of others from different economic and religious backgrounds. True to the old adage that one cannot judge a book by its cover, this picture book is no run-of-the-mill book for the holiday season; rather, it offers a sophisticated story line, classic illustrations, and a lasting impression.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children