Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 5 to 18
- Grade: k to 12
As Jo helps her mother and her baby brother on a cold and windy Christmas Eve, she searches for shelter — any kind of shelter — for the little family. Her mother is ill and the baby needs feeding.
There is no other option but a barn owned by a local farmer known as a solitary grouch. Nobody cares for Franklin Murdoch, and Jo doesn't trust him to care for her family.
But Murdoch turns out to be less of a threat than Jo has feared. He makes the desperate family a warm sanctuary in his home. And when the wind has died and snow falls on Christmas morning, peace has come to them all.
Stephanie Simpson McLellan's spare text is complemented by the subtle but beautiful art of Brooke Kerrigan in a book that is a reminder of the essential story of Christmas.
The wind elbowed Jo's mother and kicked her to the ground.
"Stop it!" Jo shook her fist at the sky. Ignoring her, the wind stole her scarf and blew out the light.
Her plan was to be on a bus halfway to someplace else by now, but they weren't even close to the station.
She pulled her mother to her feet. With a howl, the wind forced them off the road and into the prickly fields.
This starkly beautiful story highlights the heroic spirit of a young girl and the generosity of a stranger in a book that reveals what the real spirit of Christmas is all about.
About the authors
Stephanie Simpson McLellan
is the author of the stunning The Christmas Wind, published by Red Deer in 2018, as well as a number of other picture books, including the award—winning The Chicken Cat. She lives in Newmarket, Ontario.
Brooke Kerrigan has loved to draw ever since she was a little girl. If there was a pencil nearby she couldn't resist the urge pick it up and begin to doodle, so it seemed only natural that she grow up to become an artist. Of all her creative endeavors, illustrating children's books is her favourite. Born in Toronto, she currently lives in a little town in the French Alps that inspires her every day. Brooke has illustrated six previous picture books, among them Kiss Me: I'm a Prince!, Dog Breath and Fishermen Through and Through — nominated for a Blue Spruce Award.
"Soft watercolor washes and pencil illustrations in muted tones often accentuate the words through unusual visual perspectives. The opening image of a scarf blown away from the forlorn family on the ground sets the stage for this lovely, thinly veiled retelling of the Bible story. . . A charming use of a modern setting to convey the familiar theme of the Christmas story."
— Kirkus Starred Review
"The lovely, soft illustrations, created by Brooke Kerrigan to suggest an earlier time in the last century, are a perfect match to the gentle, spare prose of the story. Her depiction of the prairie windstorm will make readers shiver. The Christmas Wind will make an excellent addition to the elementary library's collection of seasonal picture books. . . It would make a fine read aloud for the holiday season."
— CM Magazine
"The Christmas Wind is special. It is very, very special. And I suspect that it will be the Christmas book for this year and many to follow because of its secular telling of the Christmas story without getting bogged down in the religion. . . How the story ends is secreted away in the glorious final pages of The Christmas Wind. Suffice it to say that the Christmas wind brings snow and so much more.
"Though Stephanie Simpson McLellan touches on the Christmas story with the homeless Josephine, Merry and Christopher, a barn and a manger and a man's name that encompasses the gifts of the magi, The Christmas Wind is not the story of the birth of Christ. It is a story of compassion and grief and determination and acceptance. Though Brooke Kerrigan's outstanding illustrations suggest another time, perhaps the 1940s, The Christmas Wind is a story for our time. There is too much misunderstanding and jumping to conclusions and fears about others when we feel vulnerable but it is compassion for others that bridges all that separates us. Like the wind that carries the family to Mr. Murdock's farm and heralds a new world blanketed in snow, The Christmas Wind portends the need for a deeper meaning to the holidays that should supersede all else. . .
Stephanie Simpson McLellan's words are rich and atmospheric, and deep in spirit. Partnering her text with Brooke Kerrigan's impressive artwork is inspired. The softness of the watercolour and pencil of Brooke Kerrigan's images conveys much about the characters' strengths and pains, the briskness of that wind, and the inner shelter of barn and house. The Christmas Wind is a complete package of words and art about that which is right or should be for the holiday season and always."
— CanLit for LittleCanadians
"This charming read reminds us of what is most important during the festive season and has many elements of the original Christmas story hidden within its spare text and stunning illustrations. Both McLellan and Kerrigan have outdone themselves in the creation of this beautiful new Christmas story."
— Canadian Children's Book News
"Brooke Kerrigan's images evoke the power of the wind, the warmth of the simple house, and the strength of a young girl bent on caring for her family. A prairie blizzard is a perfect setting for finding help when is most needed.
"Elements of the Christmas story are evident throughout, in the choice of names, the setting, and the circumstances; it is not a retelling. Rather, it is a story of misunderstanding, compassion and hope for the future.
"This book reminds me of another book that has been a perennial favorite for more than twenty years — The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey. I hope you can find a copy to share. It, too, is a very special book for this holiday season."
— Sal's Fiction Addiction
"A great, brand new book for the holidays is always a pleasure to find. The Christmas Wind by Stephanie Simpson McLellan is a sure to be a favourite this year, particularly as a read aloud for the grades 3-6 range. For teachers and parents, this book raises a lot of timely topics for discussion if you're looking to have that 'meaning of Christmas' or 'holiday spirit' conversation. . . With beautiful illustrations, The Christmas Wind shows that the holiday season can be a difficult time for some, and that the power of human kindness can be a beacon of hope for all."
— What Should I Read Next? A teacher-librarian's thoughts on great books for kids
"Heartwarming. . . I really enjoyed The Christmas Wind by Stephanie Simpson McLellan. The part I liked the most in the story was how the author made the reader feel like they were right there with Jo and her family in the bitter cold looking for shelter from the wind. The story line sometimes reminds me of the first Christmas miracle with baby Jesus.
The illustrations were drawn by Brooke Kerrigan and they are very beautiful with lots of detail and vibrant colors. I think people of all ages will like to read a story with such a warm and happy ending that is not your usual Christmas theme. I would have liked to find out what happens to Jo and her mom and baby brother after they meet Mr. Murdoch.
I recommend The Christmas Wind, not just for a Christmas story but a book to enjoy all year long."
"McLellen's spare text is deftly complemented by the subtle but beautiful art of Brooke Kerrigan. . . An original and destined to be classic addition to collections for the Christmas season."
— Midwest Book Review