“Firewood and Christmas Potatoes” by Robin Carole, illustrated by Sally Fantasia, has been released worldwide. This 52-page work of children’s nonfiction tells the true story of young Delia and her family as they move from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl to California during the 1930s. Seeking agricultural work to support her family during the Great Depression, Delia’s mother, Momma, teaches her daughters about the importance of perseverance, making the most of what they have, and the power of love to keep the family together.
As Momma works tirelessly to build a life for her children, Delia and her sisters find the small joys in their simple home and do their best to beat the California heat. Delia faces derision at school for being an “Okie,” for being poor, and for being the new kid, but takes it in stride, instead using the axe her mother bought with the last of their money to gather firewood in preparation for winter.
As Christmas approaches, Delia and her mother leave modest gifts of firewood and potatoes for their neighbors, accompanied by a loving note from Delia. When Christmas arrives and the church elder reads one of her notes to the congregation, Delia truly understands that her loving actions and the goodness in her heart are precious, and that the warmth she feels from loving others is the greatest gift of all.
Based on the lived experiences of the author’s mother, the story teaches young readers about the hardships so many people faced during the trying times of the Great Depression and the universal challenges of poverty. Despite the somber setting, the book is ultimately a heartwarming, inspiring story about family, kindness, and loving with an open heart. It shows that small actions can make big differences, and that no matter the circumstances, loving kindness is always the best course of action.
To provide additional context, the book’s appendix contains brief histories of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and Okies, as well as Delia’s recipe for quick and easy potato soup! With an emphasis on faith, family, and making the most of meager circumstances, Carole offers young readers an educational and hopeful message that applies to anyone’s life. She shows that hard times don’t have to mean unhappiness, that charity begins at home, and that the smallest gifts can have the greatest impact.
Firewood and Christmas Potatoes (ISBN: 9781961532113) can be purchased through retailers worldwide, including Barnes and Noble and Amazon. The hardcover retails for $30.99, the paperback retails for $21.99, and the ebook retails for $2.99. Review copies and interviews are available upon request.
From the back cover:
The hardest times can teach the greatest lessons.
During the 1930s, eight-year-old, Delia, along with her four siblings and mother, leave the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma. Taking only a few belongings and using the last of the money to buy a two-headed axe, Delia’s mother travels to California to find work in the agricultural fields – with tomatoes, grapes, cotton – anything that would support her family during the Great Depression. While confronting severe poverty, Delia brings to life her mother’s morals: hard work, sharing, and the universal need to be loved. Based on true events, Delia’s story will take young readers to a time when approximately three million Americans (including children) were once treated harshly as they journeyed to a different state to begin a new life. Children encountered challenges and embraced hardship by allowing their heart to love all.
Firewood and Christmas Potatoes is a heartwarming story that will become a family favorite during the holiday season.
About the author:
Robin Carole was born in California and grew up in the wine country regions. Robin’s fondest Christmas memory growing up is of her older brothers peering through the front window of their apartment as her date arrived to escort her to the Christmas banquet during her first year of high school. Unbeknownst to Robin, her brother, Allen, worked additional hours at the town’s health food store to earn extra money, so, her date could present her with an orchid corsage ($18.00 for a corsage was a considerable amount of money in the 1970s, especially since the average hourly wage was $1.60). It would be years later that Robin learned of this precious gift from her brother. “My education, my work, my goals, and accomplishments are here for only a moment, but my family is a lifetime.” – R.C.
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