Cover image for Was that Christmas?
Was that Christmas?
McKay, Hilary.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2002.

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 26 cm
Now that both Bella and her cat are three years old, they are big enough to learn about all the wonderful things that happen at Christmas.
General Note:
Originally published: London : Hodder Children's Books, 2001.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Holiday

On Order



At preschool Bella learns all about Christmas -- that Santa Claus will come in his sleigh pulled over the snow by his reindeer. And he will bring a huge brown sack full of presents. Bella tells her beloved cat, Black Jack, about it when she gets home. But when Santa actually comes to her preschool, Bella is bitterly disappointed. He doesn't seem to be the real thing at all -- no sleigh, no snow, no reindeer, and, worst of all, no present for Black Jack in his huge brown sack. Was that Christmas? Bella sobs to her mother on the way home from the school party.So Bella's family has to show her all the things that still have to be done before it is really Christmas, like baking mince pies, buying presents for her mother and father, icing the cake, and getting the Christmas tree.This is a delightful story for small children about all the wonderful things that make Christmas so special, told and illustrated by an award-winning author-and-artist team.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

PreS-Gr. 2. This marvelous little story gets right inside a child's concerns. Preschooler Bella thinks she has a handle on Christmas: at least she knows that Santa Claus will come in a sleigh pulled by his reindeer. But when Santa appears with a sack full of toys at her school pageant, Bella is first taken aback, then appalled. Where are the reindeer? The snow? Santa didn't even bring a present for her kitty! Outraged, Bella starts crying, "Was that Christmas?" In sweet profusion, Bella's mother begins listing all the wonderful things yet to do: mail cards, bake pies, get the tree. Each day, Bella asks, "Now?" But no. They must still buy the presents and fix the lights. At long last, it's Christmas. Because this is a British import, there will be some traditions unfamiliar to American children (Christmas crackers, sausage rolls), but Bella's heartfelt emotions are universal, and the building excitement of the holiday season is the same no matter what the specific traditions. Harvey's charming watercolors mostly play off the sweetness of the season, but when Bella is expressing her outrage about the faux Christmas during a rainstorm, there are clenched hands and bitter tears. Lovely for families, especially those with young ones who may also be a wee bit confused about holiday preparations. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

Santa's visit to her preschool leaves Bella disconsolate: he didn't bring a present for her cat, he didn't bring his reindeer, and there isn't any snow. "Was that Christmas?" she wails. Her mother assures her that it's "just the beginning," and outlines upcoming preparations. Bella replays her question twice more, giving her father and grandmother each a chance to describe more traditions. As in her novels, McKay (The Exiles) mines family dynamics with wit as well as tenderness, and the patterned structure, like Harvey's (My Friend John) mellow vignettes, will beguile a preschool audience. Ages 2-6. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 1-Three-year-old Bella learns all about the tree, the sleigh, and the sack full of presents, but is disappointed when Santa arrives at her preschool without snow and nothing for her black cat. "Was that Christmas?" she complains. Her parents reassure her that there is much more, and show her the fun involved in preparing for the holiday. When it arrives, Bella is pleasantly surprised to see snow and a stocking full of gifts for Black Jack. A simple and reassuring story with perfectly suited soft pastel vignette and full-page illustrations.-M. W. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.