Monday, December 12, 2022

Sometimes Monday ...

 ... is a good day to look through another Christmas picture book. The one I've chosen for today is The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, written by Susan Wojciechowski and illustrated by P.J. Lynch. 

I'll be honest, I enjoyed this book more than my kids did. They tolerated it when I chose it, but the recommended age level is grades 1-4, and I was reading this to them when they were much younger. But that's okay; sometimes the reader gets to choose a book they love even if those being read to don't love it quite as much. 

Jonathan Toomey is the best woodcarver in the valley, but he is always alone and never smiles. The children in the village call him Mr. Gloomy. One day a widow and her young son come to his woodshop with a request for nativity figures. 

The young boy has some specific requests, like the sheep need to be smiling and happy. 

Mr. Toomey works on the nativity figures over several days while the boy and his mother try to be quiet and unobtrusive. But the woodcarver has a problem when it comes time to carve Jesus and Mary. 

He despairs getting the expressions right until he retrieves a photo from a closed drawer of his wife and child that he had lost to illness. 

Through his carving of the family he lost, Mr. Toomey once again finds love and hope in his heart and even has a smile on his face at the end of the book. 

This story isn't nearly as saccharine as I may have made it sound. I hardly ever cry reading books, but this one does make me a bit misty-eyed. 

If you'd like to see the whole book and have the story read to you (by James Earl Jones), you can click below.

"I met a teacher who talked to me about how perceptive children are. She had read the book to her first-graders, then asked questions. When she asked what Jonathan Toomey had taken from a drawer, a child answered, "He took his heart out of the drawer." When you read the book, you'll understand the profound depth of that child's answer. "
~Susan Wojciechowski (Author's note)

I don't think you can go wrong with a Christmas story about hope and heart!


  1. That sounds like a lovely story Bonny! Colin probably would not have enjoyed it, but I would!

  2. I'm not familiar with this book but it sounds wonderful, thank you for sharing it with us.

  3. This sounds lovely, though I admit when I hear Mr. Toomey, I think of the soon-to-be-out-of-office senator from Pennsylvania.

  4. The illustrations are beautiful.

  5. I do love this book and I can't believe we don't have a copy of it! Thank you for reminding me of this lovely story!

  6. isn't it funny how we liked some books more than our kids? Loved the flip through and we need more books on hope!

  7. This book is one of our favorites, too. Or, at least, one of MY favorites. The kids never quite liked it as much as I did (just like you and your boys). I thought it was too heavy a story for the lightness of the season, maybe? And the illustrations are quite muted (but beautiful). But, wow! What a story! I still get teary when I read it each Christmas. XO

  8. Ok, now I'm crying! I've never heard of this book. It's beautiful.

  9. Amen, a Christmas story about heart and hope is perfect.


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