Read Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters by Patricia C. McKissack Fredrick L. McKissack John Thompson Online


Rich in historical detail and filled with luminous illustrations, this poignant book movingly describes the holiday celebrations of both slaves and slave owners on a pre-Civil War plantation.The year is 1859, and it's Christmastime on a Virginia Plantation. The slaves are cleaning and setting up the Big House--where their masters live--for the festivities. The Big House isRich in historical detail and filled with luminous illustrations, this poignant book movingly describes the holiday celebrations of both slaves and slave owners on a pre-Civil War plantation.The year is 1859, and it's Christmastime on a Virginia Plantation. The slaves are cleaning and setting up the Big House--where their masters live--for the festivities. The Big House is filled with warmth, colorful decorations, and yummy food...but there is talk of war and a sense that times may be changing. In the quarters--where the slaves live--conditions are poor, dirty, and cold, but the slaves are filled with hope for better times ahead, and they sing songs of freedom.Moving deftly between two worlds, this beautifully illustrated book is a historical tale as well as a holiday treat....

Title : Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780590430289
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 80 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters Reviews

  • Nefertari
    2018-10-16 14:21

    Read this as a child, just as good the second time around. Though, as an adult, you pick up on a lot more nuance...

  • carrietracy
    2018-11-09 20:17

    Hiding in the guise of a holiday picture book, this Coretta Scott King award winner is really about a country on the brink of war. I was concerned at first that it would be providing an overly saccharine take on slave life in order to draw parallels between Christmas celebrations of the whites and blacks at the time, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I should have know to trust Patricia and Fredrick McKissack who are excellent African American authors. Right from the outset, the Author’s note sets the historical tone for the book.As the book continues, it covers traditions typical of plantation owners and slaves from the time leading up to Christmas through the New Year. It contains many specific references to songs and practices that would have been common at the time. But as I said before it is not simply about Christmas and the winter holidays. It is about the chatter in the drawing rooms about the unrest in the country. It is about the hopes of slaves that they will find a way to be free.Since the book is told manly from the slave’s perspective, it keeps from idealizing the “Big House” Christmas too much and also uses this to call attention to the faults of the “Massa”. Despite the fact that a relatively sympathetic slave owner is depicted here, it is clear that you really can’t have a good owner.Because of it’s historical information, this book is actually quite complex. I would recommend it for third graders with considerable adult assistance (such as in a teaching setting) or older. There are frequent references to important historical figures and events which will largely be unknown to students who have not had formal teachings regarding the Civil War and the years leading to the secession. Additionally, quotes from period songs are used and dialect is common throughout. This will provide an additional challenge for young readers.All in all, it’s an interesting book, but there are mismatches between the content (better understood by much older students) and the format (resembles a picture book) and the tone (likely appropriate for middle grades readers).

  • Meltha
    2018-11-13 17:19

    This was an excellently written and remarkably well-researched book. The juxtaposition of the white plantation owners' lives with those of the enslaved African Americans was clearly drawn, but literally and figuratively. The attitudes (and sometimes the faked attitudes) or the people in the story were also very revealing. The owners do seem fairly idiotic to some extent for not figuring out how upset the workers are, and it might have been my imagination, but while the African American portraits in this were remarkably clear, nearly photographic, the white people seemed somewhat vague or less defined in the pictures. The inclusion of recipes, folk beliefs, dances, music (would have loved some musical notation), and poetry was also very helpful in creating the setting. Of course, this is essentially a very sad book in places, ending with families being broken apart and callous racism on the part of the owners, so reading it as a Christmas book is going to be more of a depressing than uplifting experience. While my library actually classified it as a holiday book, I don't think I would designate it specifically as such in the way holiday book is usually perceived. This is definitely more of a historical picturebook. The end notes were very helpful and helped immensely in understanding the text, and bibliography is well done too. My only qualm on this is the length. It's an unusually long picturebook, broken into chapters, so for some of the exercises I would use it for in class, I think I would need to consider it a short chapter book or novella rather than classifying it with traditional picturebooks. On the whole, though, I would easily use this as a text again.

  • Faith Joy
    2018-11-02 12:42

    “Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters” will take you back in time with its rich historical details taking place in 1859. It’s Christmastime on a Virginia Plantation. The slaves are helping set up and clean the “Big House”- where their masters live- for the Christmas festivities. Their house is filled with warmth, colorful decorations, and good food. In the quarters- where the slaves live- there is talk of war and a feeling that times will be changing. The conditions are poor, dirty, and cold; but the slaves are filled with hope and sing songs about freedom. The headings & subtitles help clarify the difference between “the big house” and “the quarters.” Bold & italic fonts label the songs, riddles, and jokes used by the slaves. Text boxes are used for certain recipes made during Christmas time, and the notes after the story point out certain pages with keywords and saying meanings explained. This text enhanced my understanding of the content by adding elegance and beauty to a story about a region and its people on the eve of a war. When the war was over, the plantations were never the same. Only the memories of Christmases in the Big House and in the Quarters are remembered by Southerners as they moved throughout the United States. I would recommend this book because of the amazing illustrations and the incredible story about what happens in preparation for and in celebration of Christmas in both the big house and the slave quarters. I enjoyed reading about the traditions of the slave and the master and how similar, yet extremely different they were.

  • Gale
    2018-10-26 17:15

    “A Tidewater Upstairs, Downstairs” In some 60 pages (followed by 4 pages of Notes) the authors present a faithfully detailed account of the contrasting ways that Christmas was celebrated in the Big House (white masters) and down in the Negro slave Quarters. Shocking extremes are revealed; the lavish hospitality of pampered, wealthy families versus the homespun generosity and simple frolics of the overburdened, underfed slaves. From mid December through First Day the Big Times are carefully documented and contrasted. Some songs, rhymes and recipes are included for historic flavor and authenticity. Set on a Tidewater,VA, plantation which represents several around Jamestown this book also hints of the monumental changes in social structure and law of the impending future. With frequent references to John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859—the year of the story—there is a glimmer of hope to modern readers that slavery would not long be permitted to sully American dreams of democracy. Yet the slaves would soon learn that Freedom is a prize to be purchased with sorrow and blood. Expect no definitive plot or character development. Interesting color illustrations enhance the reader’s enjoyment and overall comprehension of this modest historical treatise.(December 18, 2013. I welcome dialogue with teachers.

  • Lindsey
    2018-11-09 19:39

    I think this book would have been better if there had been more illustrations and if the format had been less dense. The separation between the Big House and the Quarters just wasn't done that smoothly in my opinion. Plus, this is a very dated edition. I think the ending of this book is better than the beginning. At the end, you really realize how much better Christmas time (of The Big Times) is better for slaves than after. In the beginning of the book, it seems more of a difference between the rich and the poor, but the end really shows a harsher side of slavery. It isn't nearly as brutal as it probably should be. I mean this is a children's book so of course they will gloss it over, but I really don't think the slavery part of this book is captured nearly as well in the beginning as in the end. Lots of long passages and not nearly as many illustrations as I'd like. Probably too long for a read aloud.

  • Cara Wilson
    2018-11-07 16:42

    Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters by Patricia C. McKissack and Fredrick L. McKissack Cara W., Spring 2015This book shows life on a plantation in the south in 1853. The view points are from both parties, the slaves and the landowners. This is not a true story, but is a historical fiction of sorts as it takes the readers on a “tour” of what would be happening in each part of the plantation. I found this book very visually exciting. The pictures are photographic and there are other elements that set the story very well. I found this book very interesting, eye opening, and wonderfully done.This would be great at Christmas time or even when talking about slavery.

  • Audrey
    2018-10-30 14:22

    This book tells a narrative story based on multiple actual accounts that demonstrates the differences in the Christmas experiences between slaves and their owners in 1859.This book fascinating and very well-written. The book conveys accurate portrayals of the lives of slaves and plantation owners during this time. The authors conducted much research while working on this book. The book incorporates slave songs, and even Christmas recipes from both slave and white kitchens of the time. There is an appendix in the back of the book that goes into greater detail regarding many topics mentioned in the book. The book covers a difficult subject, but is a definite must read for everyone.

  • Janine
    2018-10-16 19:25

    This book leaves the reader with a dangerously happy outlook of what it meant to be a slave. Did slave owners invite their slaves into their home and shower them with (albeit hand me down) gifts? Was there no sense of community within the slaves own quarters, that they only felt joy when invited into their master’s home for Christmas? Were slaves really deep down happy people, but would be happier if they were free? According to Patricia and Frederick McKissack in Christmas in the Big House, yes. A true disappointment in children’s literature, I would keep this book out of the stockings (and off of my bookshelf) this Christmas.

  • Emily Garrison
    2018-10-18 15:27

    This book has won the Coretta Scott King Award. This story is full of amazing illustrations and is a true retelling of some of the last Yuletide celebrations on plantations prior to the Southern Rebellion. The book tells an incredible story about what happens in preparation for and in celebration of Christmas (The Big Times) in both the big house (the plantation house) and in the slave quarters. I really enjoyed reading about the traditions of the master and the slave and how they were similar in many ways but also extremely different. I also enjoyed the songs and superstitions that were shared throughout the story.

  • Holly Brown
    2018-11-03 14:23

    This book is about Christmas in 1859. It shows the traditions that the masters of the slaves have, as well as the traditions of the slaves. This book is set right before the slaves are set free and shows the views of slavery on both sides.I wasn't that interested in this book. I am not much of a history fan, so this book was boring at times to me.I would use this book in my classroom to teach my students about slavery in the US before the Civil War. This book would be an excellent way to show them the different points of view from the slave owners and the slaves. I could read segments of this book to my students in order to get them interested in informational books.

  • Sue
    2018-10-18 17:37

    This is a children's book and was mildly interesting. The illustrations were oddly rendered - almost photographic but everyone seemed lopsided - and the text was quirky too - sort of told a story but then would interject fact - like the 'Big House' family burned their Christmas tree on New Year's Day but some neighboring families kept theirs up until Epiphany. The idea of contrasting the Christmas experience of the family in the Big House with the Sales in the Quarters is a good one, though.

  • Shauna
    2018-10-19 13:41

    This book would be good for middle elementary students (grades 3-4). It shows the different ways both slaves and slave owners celebrated Christmas during the Civil War. This would be great to go with a History lesson, and introduce some of the ideas of slavery and vocabulary.

  • AnnieM
    2018-10-17 14:29

    This is what Everyone should read. It tells the two sides of the story. You get the glamor and grandeur of the big house. You also get to see the quarters and how they celebrated the same holiday. The illustrations add that extra something to the story. Add this to your reading list.

  • Raquel
    2018-11-10 19:25

    Sencillo, pero emotivo. Al menos eso me pareció a mi.

  • Victoria Greer
    2018-11-11 19:40

    An heirloom book for christmas.

  • Karen Gibson
    2018-11-03 19:32

    Very well written and informative.

  • Kaye
    2018-11-03 14:21

    A well written and child friendly account highlighting the differences between slaveholders and slaves in the 1850s.

  • GPPL Youth
    2018-11-13 18:13

  • Bonnie Pohlig
    2018-10-31 14:30

    The story of Christmas on a Virginia plantation in 1859. It held my interest very well, and I learned a lot, too.

  • Amy Yount
    2018-10-16 17:14

    Recommended Reading Chapter 1

  • Jennifer
    2018-11-16 12:35

    Historically accurate, but not very uplifting. Or maybe I just can't be lifted up right now.

  • Jewell DeLeon
    2018-10-16 16:39

    Christmas time 1859. Before the Civil War, two very different sets of traditions entwined in each other.

  • Machim
    2018-11-14 13:25

    Children's Books