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Great Joy    by Kate DiCamillo & Bagram Ibatoulline order for
Great Joy
by Kate DiCamillo
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2010 (2010)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Maybe you are a person who doesn't notice things, but I do. One day I saw an organ grinder and his little monkey on the street outside our apartment. It was the week before Christmas and there was snow everywhere.

Organ grinder music is kind of neat and I enjoyed watching the monkey hold out his tin cup asking for money as the old man turned the crank making music. But, I wondered, where do they go at night? I asked my mom but she replied, 'Oh, Frances. Don't ask me questions that I can't answer.'

Now it isn't that my mom doesn't care about people or stuff like that but she was working on my costume for the Christmas play I was going to be in. Mom gets a little testy when she has a lot to do.

Keeping in mind what my mother said about everyone having to go somewhere at night, I kept awake that night until everyone was asleep. Then I went to our window, looked down on the street and was surprised to see the man and his monkey were resting in a doorway. I felt really, really bad so I asked my mom if we could ask them in for dinner. Of course, she said, 'No, they can't come for dinner. They're strangers.'

Everyone needs a place to go at Christmas time, but this poor man and his monkey apparently didn't have one. That made me really sad so the evening we left the apartment to go to the Christmas play I was in, I stopped quickly, put a nickel in the monkey's cup and invited the man to come to the church down the street where the play was being held. He just smiled but his eyes looked very sad.

You can perhaps imagine that I was not in a great mood when we reached the church. In fact I forgot my lines when the time came to say them, but then something very wonderful happened and I remembered them. Now, I'm not going to tell you how my story ends, but I think you'll really be happy with how everything turns out. It was a very special evening. And this will probably become one of the special stories you like to read year after year at Christmas time because it will give you and your family Great Joy!

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