Allison's Book Bag

The Christmas Sock by Marion Brake

Posted on: July 31, 2013

ChristmasSockIn the middle of a different project, author Marion Brake felt inspired to write a story in honor of soldiers and their families. The Christmas Sock is the most professionally produced of all Brake’s books. It’s cloth bound and illustrated by a professional artist, Cassandra Gallant, who also designed Brake’s subsequent fiction. According to Brake, the story flowed easily for her, and one can tell she cares deeply about her characters. Dedicated to a Scottish war bride, friend, and neighbor, The Christmas Sock is a charming story about what matters most during the holidays.

As I read this seasonal tale, I almost felt as if sitting next to Brake and listening to her tale. Her opening description feels immediately inviting: “It was the time of year when everyone started to think about Christmas. There were parties to plan, cookies to bake, and gifts to buy.” Moreover, Brake strikes a delicate balance between creating an atmosphere and establishing a conflict: “Not everyone, however, had money to spend on gifts this year. Isobel Moore’s parents had been one of those parents experiencing hard times.” Brake also understands young people. She knows that even the nicest children care about what their friends think. Hence, while Isobel doesn’t want to hurt her mom’s feelings, she also hates the idea of standing out among her classmates by bringing an old sock as her gift.

If I were to quibble with anything in Brake’s style, it would be that she relies too heavily on telling instead of showing. For example, Brake summarizes Isobel’s reaction to her mom’s idea of decorating an old sock by stating, “Isobel became angry with that suggestion.” There are certainly other times when she does show, such as when Isobel’s mom explains that what’s most important is that they’re giving from their hearts, and Isobel huffs and leaves the house. But she could go even further in showing with the inclusion of dialog, which young children especially love to read.

All this said, Brake at times beautifully captures a scene, such as the evening when Isobel’s mom stays up late to “turn the wool sock into something Isobel would be proud of.” Brake describes how Isobel’s mom rummages through a craft basket, finds dark green velvet material for a cuff, ties on a bow from a gold ribbon, and sprays the sock with green and gold dust. She even adds red buttons and one of three shiny gold buttons that belong to family members who are serving in the army.

Brake has packed a lot of story into twenty-one lavishly illustrated pages. With a few lines of dialog here and there, The Christmas Sock would make for an even stronger story. As it is, this endearing tribute to soldiers and their families brought a smile to my face. That’s enough reason for me to recommend it.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

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