Lee Kingman Ellen Lewis Buell - Essay

Ellen Lewis Buell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The best [Christmas stories], of course, are those which can be shared by the whole family, read aloud in the evening. Such a story is "The Best Christmas"…. When news came just before Christmas to the Seppalas that big brother Matti's stone barge was missing out of Boston gloom descended upon that big affectionate Finnish-American family…. How 10-year-old Erkki did his whole-hearted if unskilled best to make the presents which Matti might have given, how it turned out to be the very best Christmas ever is told in a tender story which captures the real essence of giving.

Ellen Lewis Buell, "New Titles on the Younger Reader's Bookshelf: 'The Best Christmas'," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1949 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), December 4, 1949, p. 42.∗

[The Quarry Adventure is a] frolicsome family story, with a touch of mystery-adventure for spice; involves a lively Finnish-American family and a lonely little girl who learns how to have fun and a sense of responsibility…. A joyous, appealing story….

"Eight to Eleven: 'The Quarry Adventure'," in Virginia Kirkus' Bookshop Service, Vol. XIX, No. 21, November 1, 1951, p. 635.

Once you meet Lauri Sorinen and his family [in "The Quarry Adventure"], you care not that they happen to be Finnish working people, living on Cape Ann, about 1920. Like the poor little rich girl, Garnet, you are just plain fond of them….

Boys and girls will like Lauri and Garnet…. We have had plenty of happy though poor families in children's fiction, and too many horrid little rich girls who are always reformed by meeting them. But the way [Lee Kingman] makes clear the details of living on very little money will be interesting to children. And these lovable Finnish parents would appeal to anyone. It looks a bit like a "junior mystery," but it is much more than that. Aside from its fun, its human relations are tops, and the funny bits of the Finnish language may help youngsters think more kindly of all who speak differently from themselves. Or, so we can hope.

"American Families, Then and Now," in New York Herald Tribune Book Review (© I.H.T. Corporation; reprinted by permission), Vol. 28, No. 13, November 11, 1951, p. 10.∗