The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

by Susan Wojciechowski

Other authorsP. J. Lynch (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1995


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Candlewick (1995), Edition: First Edition, 40 pages


The widow McDowell and her seven-year-old son Thomas ask the gruff Jonathan Toomey, the best wood-carver in the valley, to carve the figures for a Christmas creche.

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User reviews

LibraryThing member elander
I would highly recommend this story! It would be a wonderful addition to a classroom library, to accompany other holiday books. The story is one of hope and love, with the true meaning of Chritmas woven throughout.
LibraryThing member cjoymr
A nice example of the 'woman + child + special Christmas item' melts the heart of sorrowfully grumpy man trend in Christmas tales. The illustrations are exceptional.
LibraryThing member JackieKuhlman
Jonathan Toomey, or Mr. Gloomy as children called him seldomed smiled and never laughed. He was very sad because his wife and baby died of a sickness. He put everything he had into being the best woodcarving in the country. Thanks to widow McDowell and her son needing something very special carved
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by Christmas it brought Mr. Gloomy to be a very bright blue eyed Mr. Toomey again.

I had never read or even hear of this book, but as I engaged in reading it, it turned out to be one of the best Christmas stories I have read. It reminds me of all the people who have lost loved ones and have to spend Christmas alone and what it wouldn't hurt for people to make a special trip and maybe brighten someone's day.

There is a very strick line to seperate school and church, but this story does not primarily focus on religion but the story line is of Mr. Toomey. This would be a good book to share with students about community service.
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LibraryThing member JoleneShafer
This book can be used to teach children love for all people. Even those that seem fierce and mean at first. In the end the children will learn that love wins and warms people.
LibraryThing member StPaul43228
Product Description
"The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey" is a story of love, redemption and above all, hope. When a broken hearted boy loses the treasured wooden nativity set that links him to his dead father, his worried mother persuades a reclusive, ill-tempered woodcarver to create a
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replacement, and to allow her son to watch him carve it. The commission takes their relationship to unexpected places as the young boy makes greater and more difficult demands of the woodcarver’s ability, and as Christmas approaches, the three of them struggle to come to terms with each other, their painful memories and the process of putting their unhappiness behind them. Outstanding performances, stunning CGI visuals and a brilliant score make this compelling, funny and ultimately, very moving adaptation of one of America’s most loved and award winning children’s books a must-see family movie experience.
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LibraryThing member PennyAnn
This is one of my all-time favorite Christmas picture books. A heartwarming tale with gorgeous illustrations. My boys are grown and I look forward to sharing this beautiful story with future grandchildren.
LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Known as "Mr. Gloomy" in his small New England village, woodcarver Jonathan Toomey was a man who had no time for conversation, and no tolerance for the games of children. Enveloped in sorrow, at the death of his wife and son some years before, he had withdrawn from the world, devoting himself to
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work, and avoiding all human contact. And then one wintry day, the Widow McDowell and her young son, Thomas, knocked at his door, and commissioned a wooden crèche for Christmas. Slowly working their way into his life - Thomas asks to watch him work, having an ambition to become a woodcarver himself, one day - mother and son create a miracle. Just as another mother and son did, so many years before...

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey is one of those books that's been "on my radar" since it was first published, back in 1995, when I was working in the children's section of a large bookstore. But somehow, despite finding the cover immensely attractive, and being curious about the story, I never happened to pick it up. How glad I am that, prompted by the recommendation of a goodreads friend (thanks, Kathryn!), I finally did! A heartwarming story, satisfyingly emotional, without veering too far into the saccharine or sentimental, is joined to gorgeous watercolor artwork that perfectly captures the world being depicted. The reader feels as if she were right there, in that New England workshop with Jonathan - a note about location: although it is never specified in the text, the dust-jacket blurb about the artist mentions that he traveled to Vermont's Shelburne Museum, to study the early American artifacts to be found therein - and feels as one with the characters, both in loneliness and joy. The parallel between the miracle that reawakens the heart of Jonathan Toomey, and the larger miracle of the Christmas season, just adds depth to this wonderful book, which I highly recommend to anyone in the market for Christmas tales!
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LibraryThing member matthewbloome
Great story. I loved this book.
LibraryThing member Vanessamom25
Ages 4^-9. "Christmas is pish-posh," grumbles Jonathan Toomey, the best wood carver in the valley. He's a Scroogelike recluse; but he's a gentle grouch, it turns out, and he hides a sad secret. He's transformed, not by Dickensian ghosts, but by an eager seven-year-old boy and his widowed
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mother who ask him to make them a Christmas creche. The story verges on the sentimental, but it's told with feeling and lyricism (he "traveled till his tears stopped" ). Lynch's sweeping illustrations, in shades of wood grain, are both realistic and gloriously romantic, focusing on faces and hands at work before the fire and in the lamplight. In a beautiful, elemental scene, the angry wood carver stands on the threshold of his home, disturbed by the gentle widow and her son who want his help and will transform his life. Hazel Rochman
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LibraryThing member 1Avidfan
Beautiful book both the words and the illustrations. it tells how the meaning of Christmas can truly spread joy despite sorrow.


Young Hoosier Book Award (Nominee — Intermediate — 1999)
Kentucky Bluegrass Award (Nominee — Grades 4-8 — 1997)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

40 p.; 11.38 inches


1564023206 / 9781564023209


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