By Marcia Maynard Fowler
Rhode Island author, Elizabeth Brown, has roots in coal country, Pennsylvania. In her picture book, Coal Country Christmas, she combines her family’s history of living in a coal mining town, with their familial love, to create a warming holiday story.
Young Liz and her mother travel to Pennsylvania to visit Grandma, aunts and cousins for Christmas.Â Brown uses beautiful language to show us the journey. “Along the road, black as coal, we snake our way up and into the mountains.” Â When they arrive at Grandma’s, Liz is swallowed up with a hug and readers feel the happiness shared by this close family.
Coal country isn’t an easy or healthy place to live. Brown shows the reader this truth but writes it in a way so the reader accepts it, but doesn’t feel sad. She combines the magic of the holiday in with the reality of living in a mining town.
Younger children and older ones will enjoy the illustrations, story, and connections made to any family gathering. Older children can also learn more about living in a mining town.
Coal Country Christmas, winner of an International Reading Association Notable Book Award, makes a lovely addition to a collection of holiday books.
Elizabeth Ferguson Brown is an author and retired elementary school teacher. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Coal Country Christmas
Author, Elizabeth Ferguson Brown
Illustrated by Harvey Stevenson
Boyds Mill Press, 2003
Prior to staying home with her young children, Marcia Maynard Fowler was a reading specialist and early childhood educator. She currently sells Barefoot Books online at http://www.bfbooks.net.