REVIEW: Ruby’s Christmas Gifts by Nancy Oswald
It’s Christmas time in 1896 Cripple Creek, Colorado, and Ruby May Oliver and her donkey, Maude, roam the streets in search of Maude’s missing foal. Along the way, Ruby comes upon four people in need of gifts—gifts she discovers she can give. This gentle tale, enhanced by the evocative illustrations of Nathaniel Jensen, is a great read-aloud or independent read for grades 2 thru 4. Readers who have enjoyed the antics and adventures of Ruby May Oliver and her donkey, Maude, through the award-winning Ruby and Maude Adventure series, are in for a treat with this heartwarming story as Ruby enters more and more deeply into the true spirit of Christmas.
I have never read any of the books about how young Ruby gains her menagerie of animals while living with her widowed father in a late 19th mining town, but I got the chance to read this short Christmas addition to the series. The illustrations have a charming “old fashioned” feel and look to them and the story is simple to follow. As Ruby and Maude search for foal Willy (aka for Willful), Ruby learns that even with little money, she can give gifts and help others. One thing that did bother me was that some of the people Ruby gave to didn’t even bother to say “thanks” to her. But important lessons, about how you don’t have to give expensive or elaborate things, can be learned. Giving from the heart to address the need you see others have is just as important. B-