Jonathan Toomey is a lonely man who rarely smiles and never laughs. He is the village woodcarver, and the best in the valley. One day he finds his simple life intruded upon by a young widow and her son, who request a carved nativity set to replace the one they lost when they moved. As the story progresses, we learn more about what makes Jonathan Toomey so gloomy, and begin to see his character gradually change. As each piece of the nativity scene slowly takes shape amid the story, the heartwarming message of patience and healing, family and friends is artfully spun.
The richly detailed watercolors depict the small details of faces, hands and wood grain lit by the winter firelight of an early American setting. Their beauty compliments the author’s lyrical style and brings the characters perfectly to light. I highly recommend this book for family reading nights, for its wholesome and heartwarming theme, and will likely reread it myself every Christmas for years to come.