An old, lonely woman wakes on Christmas Eve with no food and no money. After all her efforts to earn some extra cash in town fail, she turns toward home, despondent but still with enough goodness in her heart to stop a thief from robbing a small church and tenderly reassemble the nativity set he had knocked over. When she collapses on the snowy road back to her home, the figures in the church’s nativity set magically come to life, eager to return the kindness she so willingly showed to them. Together they toil to give her a Christmas she will always remember and show us all that even the very small can work miracles.
I remember “reading” Peter Collington’s book Little Pickle when I was a little girl and being fascinated by the idea that you could tell a whole story with no words at all. I loved it. It still gives me a warm feeling to just think about turning the pages of that book, drinking in those pictures, feeling the story come alive inside of me. Of course, I never paid attention to author and illustrator names when I was little, but I knew immediately when I found A Small Miracle in the library that it must be by the same guy. I love how an artist’s unique touch can evoke those same feelings, no matter what the story, and I especially loved watching my children experience that same excitement as they narrated those beautiful pictures to me.
This story is really great too, and I will only talk about two of the reasons today. First of all, it is a great “true meaning of Christmas” story. It is all about giving and generosity and love that we especially want to teach our kids. It incorporates Christ without being preachy about it, and shows us that there is a lot that we can do for people that are very close by but that we might not see in our busy lives. Secondly, I love the use of little people performing miracles. Yes, they are statues that magically come to life. No, our kids won’t have anything as valuable as the 3 wise men’s gifts that they can sell to buy someone groceries. And they certainly should not be using axes by themselves to chop firewood for the less fortunate. However, children instinctively reach out to and relate to anyone who is little. They feel an alliance with them, and when they see other little people or things accomplishing something big and important, they feel that that has a special significance for them. I love books that help kids feel that they can change the world for the better, that they can do something miraculous, and this is one of those books.