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The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll    by Patricia McKissack & Jerry Pinkney order for
All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll
by Patricia McKissack
Order:  USA  Can
Schwartz & Wade, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll is a heartwarming holiday tale of siblings, selfishness and self-growth, set during the Great Depression. Patricia McKissack's text pulls readers right into the middle of this African-American family's life - poor in material things but rich in values - while Jerry Pinkney's warm and lovely illustrations bring both their poverty and integrity to life for the reader.

The picture book begins, 'Christmas always came to our house, but Santy Claus only showed up once in a while.' The young narrator, Nella, middle of three sisters, badly wants a Baby Betty doll (advertized in the Pittsburgh Courier) for Christmas and even writes Santa a letter to ask for it. But, 'not in a million, zillion years' says her small sister Dessa, while big sister Eddy Bernice reminds her, 'We're in a Depression!'

The big day finally arrives and after the sack each receives of walnuts, peppermint candy, an orange, and raisins, there's one last package for the girls! It's a 'for-real, store-bought, brand-new Baby Betty doll, the color of chocolate, with rosy cheeks, black curly locks, and thick eyelashes.' Of course, they fight over it. Told to work it out, the three succumb to Nella's claim, since she 'wrote a letter to Santy'.

But Nella learns that playing on her own - even with a special, brand new doll, is not nearly as much fun as she anticipated. With Mama's wise intervention, she makes the right move, one that results in 'the best Christmas ever'. The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll, a sweet story with a meaningful message, is destined to become a holiday classic.

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