Cover image for What child is this? : a Christmas story
What child is this? : a Christmas story
Cooney, Caroline B.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Delacorte Press, 1997.
Physical Description:
150 pages ; 20 cm
When seventeen-year-old Matt tries to find a family for an eight-year-old foster child, his attempt backfires and both of them need a Christmas miracle.
Reading Level:
750 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.3 5.0 28087.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.1 7 Quiz: 12351 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


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X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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On this Christmas Eve, the snow lies on the ground and the stars shine bright, but the grown-ups leave a lot to be desired. And the children desire so much. Katie, a foster child, wants only one thing: a family. Who is there who can bring such as immense gift? There are no wise men coming from the East. There are no shepherds watching in the fields. But there is Matt Morden, age sixteen, who believes he is doing a good deed. There is Liz Kitchell, also sixteen, whose family decorates and celebrates but leaves Liz wondering where the meaning of the holiday has gone. There are Mr. Knight and his son, Tack, who run an inn and put up a tree on which children's wishes will hang, waiting to be granted. It's Christmas, the season of miracles, joy, and hope. Is that spirit strong enough to bring about the impossible? Join Caroline B. Cooney, bestselling author of The Face on the Milk Carton and The Voice on the Radio, in celebrating a most memorable Christmas. What Child Is This? is a story about giving and the beauty of love.

Author Notes

Caroline Cooney was born in 1947 in Geneva, New York. She studied music, art, and English at various colleges, but never graduated. She began writing while in college. Her young adult books include The Face on the Milk Carton, Whatever Happened to Janie?, The Voice on the Radio, What Janie Found, No Such Person, and the Cheerleaders Series. She received an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and an ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults for Driver's Ed and an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers for Twenty Pageants Later. Two of her titles, The Rear View Mirror and The Face on the Milk Cartoon, were made into television movies.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-10. In a New England community, three teenagers and one little girl grapple with what Christmas really means. For Liz, the holiday has always meant exquisite food and decorations, with no mention of Jesus allowed. For Tack, it has meant church activities and putting up a tree covered with wishing bells for children who would otherwise not get gifts. For Matt, Christmas has meant different foster homes and the constant fear of being sent away again. With devastatingly perfect pitch, Cooney catches the cynicism and laziness of adults as perceived by teenagers and depicts church as a place of comfort and community that reflects the true beauty of the holiday. If the climax is overly dramatic (Matt's foster sister Katie becomes lost in the snow), it is easier to forgive when the subject is Christmas. --Susan Dove Lempke

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-10‘A heart-tugging story with an upbeat ending, told in alternating chapters by the young people involved. Eight-year-old Katie, an emotionally starved foster child, writes a wish on a paper bell that will be hung on a Christmas tree in a local restaurant. There, members of the community can choose a request and give a gift to a needy child. However, Katie doesn't ask for toys or clothing‘she wishes for a family. Although the social worker says her request is inappropriate, Matt, a high school student who lives in the same foster home and works in the restaurant, hangs the bell on the tree. Liz, Matt's classmate, is upset when her uncaring father reads the wish, calls it ridiculous, and tears up the bell. Meanwhile, Liz's older sister struggles with her grief over the recent death of her baby. When Matt tells Katie on Christmas Eve that her wish will not come true, the devastated girl runs out into a blizzard, setting off a chain of events that brings about a resolution befitting a holiday tale. Showing her flair for adolescent angst, Cooney allows the characters to speak for themselves, eventually weaving their lives together into a fitting climax. A moving, fast paced novel, sure to appeal to Cooney's fans. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



It's Christmas, the season of miracles, joy, and hope.  Is that spirit strong enough to bring about the impossible? "Katie, age 8, wants a family." Katie 's Christmas wish is perfectly simple.  And perfectly impossible.  Katie lives in a foster home with fifteen-year-old Matt, another foster child who is so frozen that the warmth of Christmas can't even begin to thaw him. A family, thought Katie.  You'd sit on their laps, and their hugs would last and last. Not hugs like social workers gave: quick as grades. Hugs like mothers gave: wrapping-you-up hugs. Hugs like father gave: hoisting-you-into-the-air and tossing-you-around hugs. Being a foster kid was like living in a blender.  Life was always flinging you against sharp blades. But amazingly, as Christmas approached, Matt was suddenly willing to help Katie with spelling and arithmetic.  Matt was silent but mean; mean from years of no family...and Matt helped her. She wondered if he would let her walk with him part of the way to the restaurant when he went to work tonight.  Sometimes he did, and sometimes he would let her stop and talk about the pretty decorations people had.  Once, he had held her hand. Excerpted from What Child Is This?: A Christmas Story by Caroline B. Cooney All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.