Terry Overton (author) Chris Jackson (illustrator)
Emerald House Group, Incorporated (2021)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views Kids (12/2021)
“Oddball Ornaments: The Story of Christmas” by Terry Overton is a wonderful story about the spirit of Christmas and the reason for the holiday celebration.
Up in the attic, there is a box labeled “Oddball Ornaments” containing four special treasures: Nutcracker, Ballerina, Train, and Red Ball. The ornaments know it’s almost time to be hung on a tree and displayed for human enjoyment. But when Grandma visits this year, something isn’t quite right; she’s sad and Grandpa is missing. She also brings a new box of ornaments with her and the Oddballs fear being replaced. Things just aren’t making sense and the Oddballs have many questions. Why is Grandma sad? Where is Grandpa? Is it true Box Day isn’t just about admiring the ornaments? Curious, the gang appoints Nutcracker to climb to the top of the tree to talk to Angel—maybe she can unravel the mystery. What Nutcracker learns is more than the Oddballs could ever envision.
Told from the perspective of a group of ornaments, “Oddball Ornaments” is a delightful and ingenious way to celebrate Christmas and the reason for the season. Terry Overton crafts one of the most original stories about Christmas I have ever read. The ornaments make charming characters kids will adore, and by kids I mean kids of all ages. Though I’ve celebrated several decades of Christmas, I found it as appealing as any book I read about the holiday. “Oddball Ornaments” is a “keeper” I will read often over the years. I am especially eager to read it to my granddaughter when she gets a little older. At 20 months old, I doubt she will sit still for a 100+ page story, but that day will soon be here…
The writing is impeccable, thoughtful, and the message conveys in a manner that is as amusing as it is informative. The characters (the ornaments) are fun, entertaining, and splendidly well-developed for being well… ornaments! Nutcracker does a fabulous job of relaying the true meaning of “Box Day” (Christmas) to the other ornaments, which requires faith-based acceptance by something they did not witness themselves. Other themes represented in the book include the meaning of prayer, what happens when someone goes to Heaven, and being kind to others. The illustrations by Christopher Jackson also add a festive touch to the story and I’ll admit to peeking ahead to look at all the pictures before I read through the story. Christmas just brings out the kid in all of us, doesn’t it?!
I whole-heartedly recommend “Oddball Ornaments: The Story of Christmas” by Terry Overton. It’s best suited for young readers and middle grade, though all ages will enjoy discovering the true meaning of the Christmas season with the quirky group of ornaments. The most exciting news of all is that there will be another story featuring these lovely ornaments coming soon.