Susan Campbell Bartoletti

The Christmas Promise

The Christmas Promise
The Christmas Promise

by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
illus by David Christiana

Blue Sky Press / Scholastic, 2001
hardcover: 978-0590984515
40 pages, ages 4-8

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About the Book

A young girl and her out-of-work father ride the rails during the Great Depression looking for a place to call home, but with Christmas approaching and no job, Poppa leaves her in a foster home, promising to return as soon as he can.


Bartoletti’s poignant story is also set during the Depression. “Do hoboes have Christmas?” a girl asks her down-and-out father, after weeks spent hopping freight trains. “They figure out a way,” he tells her. The girl is taken in by a kindly woman while her father continues on his search for work, and the two reunite just in time for Christmas. Christiana’s gloriously haunting, dreamy artwork captures all the pathos of this affecting tale. (Publishers Weekly)

The story, told in the girl’s straightforward voice, is clear and sweet. Christiana, illustrator of The Tale I Told Sasha (1999), offers dreamlike perspectives, casting the radiance of memory, hope, and imagination over dark streets and dank railroads.  (John Peters, Booklist)

Although many young children have little awareness of the 1930s, this story will speak both to the homeless children of the 21st century and to those children of plenty, who might come to understand the pain of those without. … A very different, and definitely not sugarcoated Christmas story. (School Library Journal)