Christmas after all: the Great Depression diary of Minnie Swift /

Author Lasky, Kathryn.
Language English
New York: Scholastic, 2001


In her fictionalized journal, eleven-year-old Minnie Swift recounts how her family dealt with the difficult times during the Depression and how the arrival of an orphan from Texas changed their lives in Indianapolis just before Christmas 1932.

Subjects :

  • Juvenile fiction
  • Fiction
  • Depressions
  • Family life
  • Orphans
  • Diaries

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Author Illustrator(s) :

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Best Books :

  • Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005 H.W. Wilson
  • Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Supplement to the Eighth Edition, 2002 H.W. Wilson
  • Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2002 National Council for the Social Studies NCSS

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State & Provincial Reading List :

  • Young Hoosier Book Award, 2004-2005; Nominee Indiana

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Curriculum Tools :

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Reading Measurement Programs:

Scholastic (New York:) 2001.

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Middle Grade
Book Level 5.4
Accelerated Reader Points 5

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.

Lexile Measure 770
Accelerated Reader Points

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 6-8
Reading Level 6
Accelerated Reader Points 9

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Standard Learning Info :

Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2002 Time, Continuity and Change-II; Individual Development and Identity-IV National Council for the Social Studies NCSS

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Reviews :

Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature)
The hardships of the depression are being felt by the Swift family--businesses are closing, husbands are losing their jobs and worse some have committed suicide or deserted their families. For the most part, Minerva Swift also known as Minnie leads a pretty good life in spite of the hardships around them. The family has shut down rooms in the house, keeps chickens in the garage, limits the use of the car and thanks to the talents of one sister remake old clothes into fairly fashionable outfits. The girls are full of fun, the diarist Minnie is a great observer and like the rest of her family has a good heart--they take in a destitute orphan cousin named Willie Faye from Texas. They complain among themselves about the food which is stretched by adding cheese and they rate the meals on their vomitometric scale, they love the radio, and in spite of no money are looking forward to Christmas and creating presents themselves. The scariest part of the story relates to their father's abrupt disappearance. However, in this tale, all ends well--almost too well, but it doesn't mar the pleasure. The book is fiction and it is an engaging read. The Epilog is a real flight in fantasy and will bring smiles of delight as each of the sisters and their brother live out their dreams. Readers will absorb plenty of information about this difficult time in America and the factual information at the end of the book will further reinforce the facts. 2001, Scholastic, $10.95. Ages 8 up.
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic (New York:), PUBLISHED: c2001.)

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2001 (Vol. 69, No. 22))
Minnie Swift is 11 years old in 1932 and the Great Depression has hit Indianapolis very hard. In the diary format that characterizes this series, Minnie records the daily life of her family, with all the anxieties over money and work, the makeshifts and the make-dos, the food made to go further by stretching it out with flour and cheese, and the curtains made from old dresses. All is not sadness, though, since Minnie, her siblings, and their orphaned cousin manage to find comic moments and fun despite their worries. There is an African-American maid whose ingenuity is important to the family's well-being, and who comes to work every day for no pay except for food and old clothes-surely, many readers will find this, if not disturbing, at least unlikely. Also unlikely is the implausible (and very sudden) happy ending that could have come right out of a 1930s "picture-show," when the absent father reappears, successful and prosperous, just in time to end the book with a very happy Christmas for all. As in some others of the "Dear America" series, it seems as if every historical phenomenon, every fashion, every fad, every happening that could possibly be associated with the period has been crammed into this one book. But the historical detail is both accurate and interesting, as is the historical appendix containing information and photographs of the period. 2001, Scholastic, $10.95. Category: Fiction. Ages 9 to 11. © 2001 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic (New York:), PUBLISHED: c2001.)

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Kathryn Lasky adds to the Dear America series with Christmas After All: The Great Depression Diary of Minnie Swift, set in Indianapolis, Ind., in 1932. Even though things look bleak, Minnie's family figures out a way to celebrate the holiday. Period photographs and the lyrics to Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? add historical color. (Nov.)
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic (New York:), PUBLISHED: c2001.)

Laura Woodruff (VOYA, February 2002 (Vol. 24, No. 6))
Part of the Dear America series, this journalized novel details the life of eleven-year-old Minnie Swift from November 1932, until Christmas during the heart of the Great Depression. Her large Indianapolis family grows by one when cousin Willie Faye arrives. Also eleven, small and recently orphaned Willie Faye is sent from Texas by neighbors who are escaping the Dust Bowl and have "no room in our jalopy." Stiff with grit and wearing shoes held together with tape, she has never seen a bathroom or heard of Charlie Chan, Buck Rogers, or Dick Tracy. Minnie, amazed at Willie Faye's ignorance, makes her a personal project. Although Papa still works, meat is seldom seen on the dinner table, and everything is served "O'Groton," which Minne finds "vomitous." The Swifts blame the hard times on "That Fool Hoover" and regularly visit the shantytowns of the unemployed to deliver food and messages of hope. When Papa finally loses his job and shortly afterward disappears, the family grapples with shock and despair. Strong-spirited Willie Faye becomes Minnie's support. All ends happily when returning on Christmas Eve, Papa reveals that he has traveled to New York and sold his "Ozzie, the Boy Wonder" radio scripts, making the family wealthy and ensuring bright futures for all the children. An epilogue details their lives and gives further information about the times. The character of affectionate, fun-loving Minnie gives the story reality and holds it together. The author painstakingly reproduces the language and habits of a middle-class family of the time, giving less attention to the Depression itself. Entertaining for middle school readers, especially girls, the novel is also appropriate for seasonal or Great Depression units. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2001, Scholastic, 192p. PLB, $10.95. Ages 11 to 14.
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic (New York:), PUBLISHED: c2001.)

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Publication Details:

  Publisher ISBN Notes
New York: Scholastic, 2001

Media Type: Language Material
182 p.:
PZ7.L3274 ([Fic])

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