great-joy Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Bargram Ibatoulline

It is just before Christmas when an organ grinder and monkey appear on the street corner outside Frances’s apartment. Frances can see them from her window and, sometimes, when it’s quiet, she can hear their music. In fact, Frances can’t stop thinking about them, especially after she sees the man and his monkey sleeping outside on the cold street at midnight. When the day of the Christmas pageant arrives, and it’s Frances’s turn to speak, everyone waits silently. But all Frances can think about is the organ grinder’s sad eyes — until, just in time, she finds the perfect words to share.

The illustrations are absolutely beautiful. The softness and details truly add to the story. This book reminds us of one of the great lessons of Christmas, that’s it’s for everyone. However, I was disappointed in the ending. I realize it was a picture book and therefore short, but the ending was rather abrupt, Amber even asked, “Is that it?”