Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12 to 18
- Grade: 7 to 12
Do Not Open Until Christmas is a collection of Christmas-themed short stories from critically acclaimed children's author Jean Little. From a young boy settling in with a new family complete with new siblings (and a chipmunk and raccoon!) just in time for Christmas to a Dickensian story of Barnardo children trying to settle in to a new home after being rescued from the poverty of living on the dangerous streets of 19th century London, these stories are filled with hope and all of the warm and joyful feelings of the holiday season.
About the author
Jean Little was born in Taiwan in 1932. Her parents were both doctors. Jean grew up in Ontario and graduated from the University of Toronto. She was born with a severe eye problem and is severely visually impaired. A special "talking" computer assists her with her writing. She has a retired seeing-eye dog named Ritz and a new one named Pippa, with whom she travels. The author focuses on her experiences from the time she was a child through young adulthood in her autobiography, Little by Little, and continues her story in Stars Come Out Within. The books, which will appeal to children 10 and older, are both humorous and poignant as Jean describes living with a disability and the ridicule she sometimes experienced as a result, as well as her love for the world of reading and books. Jean's books include From Anna, Listen for the Singing, Stand In The Wind, Mama's Going To Buy You a Mockingbird, Hey World, Here I Am!, Look through My Window, Emma's Yucky Brother, The Belonging Place, and Mine For Keeps. Listen for the Singing was the Canada Council Children's Literature Award winner in 1977. Mama's Going to Buy You a Mockingbird was the CLA Book of the Year in 1985.
Jean Little's first book, Mine for Keeps, won the Little, Brown Children's Book Award in 1962 and was republished by Viking Penguin in 1995. It tells the story of Sally Copeland, a 10 year old with cerebral palsy, and her adjustment to being home after spending several years in a special school. You'll find that several of the themes in this book appear in a number of the author's other books: dealing with a handicap and the responses of others, fitting in, and adjusting to new situations and surroundings.
"Beloved author Jean Little is an expert at creating stories about the inner lives of children, a talent that is on full display in each of these 12 Christmas-themed tales. . . The stories are quick and accessible, each with a heart-strings-tugging conclusion. The miraculous coincidences and orphan characters at times touch on Victorian sentimentality, but Little's expression of children's realistic passions and troubles places her collection firmly in the contemporary world. In her hands, Christmas is a place — one of angels, carols, unexpected gifts, and the promise of comfort, however it might manifest."
— Quill & Quire
"The spirit of Christmas is love. It's about faith, and hope, and giving. In each of these stories, there is love. There is also faith, hope and giving. In each of these stories, the children are resourceful beings who fight for what is truly meaningful. In some cases, there is help from loving adults, but it's the children who take the initiative to resolve the problems they're faced with. . . In these stories, there are some surprising twists that may give young readers new thoughts. But this reader thinks it is in relaying the darker realities of life while imbuing those suffering them with the hope and resilience necessary for life to continue and even to flourish that Jean Little's prose shines. She makes readers believe in guardian angels after all.
— CM Magazine
Other titles by Jean Little
A Long Way Home
Le long chemin
Harry's Hiccups Read-Along
Listen for the Singing
Dear Canada: Hoping for Home
Stories of Arrival
Once Upon a Golden Apple
25th Anniversary Edition
Pippin the Christmas Pig
Hand in Hand
Inspired by the real-life story of Helen Keller and Martha Washington
Dear Canada: Exiles from the War
The War Guest Diary of Charlotte Mary Twiss, Guelph, Ontario, 1940