From Publishers Weekly
A native of the Appalachians, Houston (The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree) obviously writes from the heart. Though injured while trying to prove to his exacting father that he is a "man," Littlejim practices reciting Bible verses for the school competition; if he wins, he will be able to take part in the Christmas celebration at the church, which his father otherwise refuses to let the family attend. The boy manages to win the contest, purchase the doll that his younger sister longs for, and soften his father's stony demeanor in this unabashedly sentimental-but affecting-tale. Hazy, sepia-toned illustrations contribute to the story's nostalgic aura. Ages 6-10.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 2-4. Houston continues the story of Littlejim (1990), about a boy in Appalachia around 1917 who longs for recognition from his macho father. Littlejim wants to go to the church Christmas tree celebration, but his father says there's no time for funning and frolicking; there's a war on, and there's work to be done. The boy dreams of proving himself a man, and he saves the dimes he earns so that he can buy a set of tools and help his father. Then, in time-honored fashion, Littlejim uses the hard-earned money to buy a doll as a Christmas gift for his little sister. When he is called on to help his father cut down logs in the icy woods, Littlejim can't keep up the pace and injures his hands. The story comes close to sentimentality, especially when Bigjim reluctantly attends the Christmas party and embraces his son with gruff tenderness. But the period details create a realistic setting without overwhelming the story, and Allen's soft, pastel-like illustrations in sepia shades capture the winter mountains and the people who live there. Children will feel for Littlejim as he longs for love from a distant parent. Hazel Rochman