Rylant, Cynthia. Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story. Illustrated by Chris K. Soentpiet. Orchard, 1997. ISBN 0-531-30051-X. $15.95. 32 pp. A K-3 PB Reviewed by Gabi Kupitz Years ago, while traveling by car in the Appalachian Mountains, a rich gentleman suffered an accident. He was pulled from his disabled car and nursed back to health. Desiring to repay this kindness, he offered money, but was refused. To settle his debt, he resolved to supply the area children with a present. Every year, on December 23, from the platform of the caboose, the rich man tossed a silver paper-wrapped present into the hands of all the children waiting next to the train tracks. For some, this was their only Christmas present. Every year, young Frankie hopes that his package will contain his secret wish: a doctor's kit. It never does. Frankie grows up and moves to the city. He never forgets the kindness of the rich man and wonders how he can repay his debt. Eventually, he moves back to the mountains, where folks are waiting for him. It is the Christmas season and again time for the train to make its annual run. This year, while joining the children at the tracks as an observer, Frank assists a little girl who, in her eagerness for a silver package, runs, trips, and falls to the ground. Frank reassures her-then looks for a bandage in his black doctor's kit. The watercolor paintings are a splendid addition to the text, but could move the story along on their own. A wonderfully simple yet many-layered story of doing good and realizing one's dreams.
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