Together at Christmas
By Eileen Spinelli
Illustrations by Bin Lee
Ten little mice find themselves out in the snow on Christmas Eve. One by one, each finds a way to get warm but each is by himself and lonesome. So they come back together to dance and celebrate and, in so doing, they find a hollow log big enough to accommodate all of them.
This has a second grade reading level and a situation a second grader would appreciate. The mice are cold and need to find a way to get warm. There is no explanation for why the mice are not hibernating. There is the tried and true structure of a countdown. The rhythm and rhyme are strained at times. The beautiful illustrations capture a sense of wonder for the season and highlight the love of friends and family that is central to the story. This is a gentle Christmas story that does not bring in religion or a tradition of Santa but instead focuses on the joy of gathering together, making it appropriate for all audiences regardless of holiday traditions. Good as an independent read or as a read aloud, a possible extension activity would be for the students to write an essay about who they like to visit during the holidays.
There are videos of Eileen Spinelli and her author husband, Jerry, on teachertube and YouTube, but nothing specifically on this book. She has her own website: http://www.eileenspinelli.com/heart_002.htm.