Silver Bells (2010), by Susie Bragg

This review was first published in Resource Links Magazine, “Canada’s national journal devoted to the review and evaluation of Canadian English and French resources for children and young adults.” It appears in volume 16.3.

An interesting little note about this book: I received the book for review from a friend of the author, actually John Bishop of restaurant fame. When we visited his restaurant for our anniversary in early December, 2011, he had just received his copy, and was excited to share it; I liked it enough to want to review it.  I did so with the promise that I would donate it to my daughter’s school library when I was finished, but when I tried to do so, I was told that it was inappropriate for the library shelves due to its Christian message (which is not overt, but inherent in its being a Christmas book).  Now, at first this seemed like blatant censorship, but the truth of the matter was that adding it to the library would disturb the balance between Christian and non-Christian holiday texts.  So it ended up in the school office, where they keep books for students to read while they are waiting for parents, to see the principal, etc.  What do we make of this?

Silver Bells

Illust. Merry Meredith.

This is a delightful tale, presented partially in rhyme with colourful paintings of a traditional family Christmas.  The young protagonist tells her readers of Christmas “When I was one or two, or maybe three,” complete with snow and “woollies and mittens and scarves and bows” and a special hat with two sliver bells jingling on top, that her mother knit especially for her.  There is no deep plot or mystery here, just a nostalgic memory of the dog who came to church, the silver bells that the parent tease are Santa’s, and a little girl tired out after a long day of family fun, who drifts off to sleep dreaming she hears silver bells…
Susie Bragg’s playful presentation of a young child’s even younger memories is completed by Merry Meredith’s friendly paintings of the young girl, her dog Prince crouched under the church pew, her parents teasing her while they walk smiling home through the snow.  Parents will love the simplicity of the tale; children will love the magic of Christmas and the family memories it builds.

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