Throwback Thursday Review: The Bird’s Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Smith Wiggins


The Bird’s Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Smith Wiggins
Re-release Date: May 12, 2012 (originally published in 1888)
Publisher: None (Public Domain)
Pages: 36
Source: Book available for free on Amazon



The story is about Carol Bird, a Christmas-born child, who as a young girl is unusually loving and generous, having a positive effect on everyone with whom she comes into contact. She is the youngest member of her family and has devoted older brothers. At about the age of 5, Carol contracts an unspecified illness (possibly tuberculosis), and, by the time she is 10, she is bedridden. The novel primarily involves Carol making plans for a Christmas celebration for the nine Ruggles children, a poor, working-class family living near the Birds. The book is a wistful moral tale about a saintly child, but is enlivened by many humorous scenes, particularly those concerning the home life of the Ruggles family.


Review: This was possibly my favorite book as a child. I would request it from the library at any time of the year and it often had to be pulled out of storage since it was a Christmas book. When I saw that Amazon had a public domain version available for free, I snatched it up.

As I turned on my Kindle and opened the book, the first tear fell. Even after all these years, the story affects me even with just a few words. I have fond memories of Carol’s birth and how she got her name, after a Christmas carol being sung by a church choir. But I was soon smiling at her simple happiness and kindness, and then laughing as the Ruggles children took manners instructions from their mother.

Be warned, this is not an HEA book. The end leaves me sobbing every time, perhaps more so now that I’m a mother (and grandmother) than it did when I was a girl. But it’s a happy, completed type of sadness. The last line of the book explains this best:

“And so the old years, fraught with memories, die, one after another, and the new years, bright with hopes, are born to take their places; but Carol lives again in every chime of Christmas bells that peal glad tidings and in every Christmas anthem sung by childish voices.”