Monica Twisdale’s new children’s book centers on a young girl named Katey, her beloved cat, Old Man, and the true spirit of Christmas.
Katey loves spending time with her pet. She is also looking forward to Christmas, and Christmas presents. Then Katey’s teacher explains the history of Christmas and that the holiday is truly not about presents but about “giving and being thankful for all the blessings that we have.”
Oblivious to all this, Old Man gets into mischief with the Christmas decorations. When he manages to upset the Christmas tree, Katey’s parents lay down the law: Old Man will not be allowed outside Katey’s room as long as they have the tree. But soon Katey’s Grandpa Harvey arrives to celebrate the holiday and comes up with a solution that pleases everyone.
A mischievous pet’s antics have great potential to amuse young readers, and a story about counting one’s blessings can be heartwarming if done sensitively. But in Old Man’s First Christmas, these two aspects of the story do not seem organically intertwined, which gives the narrative a jumbled feeling. Twisdale writes in plain, declarative sentences that lack the energy readers would expect from the story of a troublemaking cat. Jan Micahel Vincent Sy’s illustration of Old Man tangled in Christmas lights is charming. The other illustrations, however, lack flair and often do not illustrate the most exciting aspects of the text on the facing page. For instance, the page on which Old Man knocks over the Christmas tree is illustrated with the family going tree-shopping.
As a result of these flaws, Old Man’s First Christmas is unlikely to appeal to its target audience, despite its focus on a reliable premise.