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Great Joy

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4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,260 Ratings  ·  195 Reviews
In her first picture book, America’s beloved storyteller Kate DiCamillo reunites with Bagram Ibatoulline to offer readers an unforgettable holiday gift.
It is just before Christmas when an organ grinder and monkey appear on the street corner outside Frances’s apartment. Frances can see them from her window and, sometimes, when it’s quiet, she can hear their music. In fact,
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Hardcover, 32 pages
Published October 9th 2007 by Candlewick Press
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A Christmas Carol by Charles DickensHow the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. SeussThe Night Before Christmas by Clement C. MooreThe Polar Express by Chris Van AllsburgThe Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Favorite Christmas Books
77th out of 796 books — 1,106 voters
The Star by Michele BrezaHow the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. SeussThe Christmas Giant by Steve LightLlama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna DewdneyGreat Joy by Kate DiCamillo
Best Picture Books for the Holiday Season
5th out of 80 books — 13 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,463)
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Kathryn
Dec 09, 2008 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Exquisite! I loved this book, so gentle and yet so powerful. Really captures the moment when a child realizes the injustice in the world, the lack of compassion--and how troubling that can be, especially when the grown-ups in life can't/won't fix it. And yet, she finds her own way to make some "great joy" in the end. The pictures are absolutely stunning and I really like the "old fashioned" element--I'm guessing '40s--in terms of the style of dress, hair-dos, cars, etc.
Amanda
Dec 28, 2011 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Each time I finish reading a book by by Kate DiCamillo I say to myself, "This woman is a genius." And, this gentle picture book is DiCamillo at her best - tender, meaningful, and enlightening without even a hint of preachy judgment. Simply beautiful.
Tricia
Jan 15, 2016 Tricia rated it it was amazing
I really liked it when I read it to myself. But when I read it to my family, I sobbed like a baby.
Laura
Jun 30, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
The illustrations for this book are simply astounding, I loved looking at them, remembering all the magical moments I had as a child when I didn't know how to read and would glean what I could from the pictures. The story was very sweet and made me smile. Definitely read if you are a fan of Kate DiCamillo.

*Taken from my book reviews blog: http://reviewsatmse.blogspot.com/2008...
Jaleesa
Mar 15, 2015 Jaleesa rated it liked it
This book is about a girl named Frances and the Christmas pageant she is in. While getting ready for the pageant she notices an organ grinder on the street corner and his pet monkey. She asks her mother about where he goes at night and her mother glosses over the subject. Frances goes on to invite him to her pageant and when he walks in the door she feels right saying her lines. I feel like this book glosses over the idea of homelessness. It doesn’t spend any time discussing how he became homele ...more
Linda Lipko
The combination of a Christmas story of homelessness, a little girl who is concerned, and the inclusion and safety of a church, lends to an incredible tale, rich in meaning and significance at this time of year. With the added lush, stunningly beautiful, incredible illustrations of Bagram Ibatoulline, of the 102 children's illustrated books I've read thus far, this is my favorite of 2014.

When a little girl notices a lonely organ grinder and his monkey standing on the street corner during a very
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Judy
Jun 03, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it
There is always much warmth and good spirit in Kate DiCamillo's books. It's a hopeful tale, and it addresses both directly and indirectly the spirit of Christmas which should really be an all year thing... caring for one another and particularly those in need. It also raises a lot of issues that could be discussed in a classroom setting or at home, or simply provide a subject for personal reflection and self examination.

The depiction of the mother was, I felt, particularly telling. She is not a
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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I read this gem of a story on Christmas Eve, the perfect time for such a beautiful tale. Little Frances feels sorry for the organ grinder and his monkey, who sleep out on the streets in the cold. She tries to get her mother to invite him in for supper, but her mother says no. Finally, as they're heading to church on Christmas Eve, she manages to invite the organ grinder to her church--and the rest of the story will bring the tears to your eyes. Bagram Ibatoulline's illustrations really make this ...more
Kellie
Feb 28, 2014 Kellie rated it really liked it
I discovered this book while I was shelving at work. I wish I had seen it during the holidays! However, I still took it home to read because I love Kate DiCamillo's work, and I loved the illustrations.

A lovely book about kindness, compassion, and giving. I may make this one of my Christmas traditions, to read it every year. :)
Kelsi
Feb 28, 2014 Kelsi rated it really liked it
Shelves: february
Overall I thought that this was a beautiful story that focused on an important aspect of the holidays. The artwork was beautiful- the paintings that were used through out really captured the essence of the story and what the meaning behind it was. I loved that the story focused on the importance of being a friend to all. I think that this would be a great book to be read to children to help them understand the important message that goes along with this story. I thought that the ending was somew ...more
Kristen Herzog
Apr 18, 2014 Kristen Herzog rated it it was amazing
Shelves: homeless
Loved the story Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo! What a good message for kids to read about, it is important to think about others and to not judge but ask questions about their situations. The pictures were absolutely beautiful and I actually really liked how they went with the time frame of when the story takes place. The little girl is so worried about the organ grinder and his monkey but kids today wouldn't even know what an organ grinder is. Excellent way to put a teachable moment into the read ...more
Jessica
Feb 26, 2014 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: february
This book is probably my favorite picture book that I have read so far. It gave me chills. It is a wonderful story that illustrates the difference that one person can make. Not only that, but it shows the pure and simple heart of a child. The world would be a much better place if we were as undiscriminating as the little girl in this story. Great joy is felt when we feel love toward one another, especially at Christmas time. The thing that I liked most about the artwork is the use of color. It r ...more
Melissa Izzo
May 22, 2011 Melissa Izzo rated it it was amazing
This book is a story of compassion at Christmas Time. It is a sweet story of a little girl who is curious where a homeless man goes at night. She has such care and concern for the man because it is snowing and cold. Her mother wants nothing to do with the man, but that doesn't stop her. To be so young and want to reach out and help someone you have never met just tugs at my heart. This was Kate DiCamillo's first picture book and I want her to write more of them! I have read this book across grad ...more
Hannah
Dec 12, 2015 Hannah rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. The illustrations were lovely, and the story was nice, but nothing too special. Kate DiCamillo can do and has done so much better.
Cody
Why do all DiCamillo's books make me tear-up in public???
Kathryn
Jan 26, 2016 Kathryn rated it really liked it
This book is about a little girl who looks out her window and notices a man and his monkey. She watches them through the day as they stand on the corner of the sidewalk across from her apartment. She becomes curious of where they go at night. She has a sincere and innocent curiosity about the man and his monkey, but her mother knows that it is someone who the girl should not be concerned for, because he was a stranger. I won't tell he ending, but it was lovely. It shows that we should care about ...more
Rubi
Apr 01, 2014 Rubi rated it it was ok
Another ok book.
The illustrations were beautiful, but I found the story kinda sad and pointless.
Yes, the girl (Frances) was kind, but nothing is really fixed for homeless musician and his monkey.
He just got a kind invitation to church :)
And there is no real satisfying ending (at least for me). It seems like the play ended and everyone ate and life went on like nothing happened. :/
Still, I wish more people would be like Frances instead of her mother. We need people like her in this world.
Relyn
Mar 12, 2016 Relyn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: teachers, parents, kids
Recommended to Relyn by: Kate DiCamillo
This book is remarkable! The art is incredible and the message, hopeful. I tear up each time I read it.


Lesson Connections
One of the Christmas gifts I give my students each year is an extra read aloud every day from the weeks after Thanksgiving till Christmas break. I gather lots of Christmas story books and read one a day. It makes us all happy and the season more celebratory.
Katie Farmer
Dec 10, 2015 Katie Farmer rated it it was ok
I know so many people love this story and I so wanted to enjoy it but I didn't. The writing wasn't bad, I just felt it barely skimmed the surface of DiCamillo's abilities as a writer. There were some beautiful spreads by Bagram Ibatoulline, but not enough to make the story. I expected this to pack a punch in a small picture book. Sadly, it did not do that. I think a first time reader, who isn't familiar with Kate DiCamillo's or Bagram Ibatoulline's work, might enjoy this much more than me and li ...more
Josiah
Dec 25, 2009 Josiah rated it it was ok
"In a dark time, doors will sometimes magically open and let us step inside to the warmth and light of a community."

—Kate DiCamillo

The big-scale paintings done by Bagram Ibatoulline that decorate this book are an absolute, no-doubt-about-it knockout. I don't know if I've ever seen such breathtaking artwork in a Christmas picture picture outside of The Polar Express, and these paintings add incredible dimension to Kate DiCamillo's soft-spoken, unpretentious narrative.
Great Joy is one of the b
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Nicola Mansfield
Oct 08, 2010 Nicola Mansfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reason for Reading: I am a fan of the author.

This is a lovely Christmas picture book that, aside from a religious aspect, captures the true essence of Christmas. First of all, the illustrations are absolutely breathtaking paintings done in acrylic gouache. They place the story in the past sometime, but it is not until we see the photograph of the man in uniform do we place the story as being during, World War II. This book is worthy for its pictures alone. Yet, it has a text equally breathtaking
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Timothy Darling
This story is lovely. The paintings are washes of candlelight across a canvas of a more defined life. The blurb on the back of the book says "luminous" and I cannot think of a better description. The illustrator believes in human beauty. Mother is graceful, children are cherubic, and the organ grinder's face is a map of character experience. Remembering my inclinations from youth, I'm sure that if I were a little boy reading this story, I would be in love with Frances' mother. I wonder a little ...more
Liza
Jun 28, 2012 Liza rated it really liked it
DiCamillo, K. (2007). Great Joy. Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.
Gr. K-3. Outside her window each night, Frances sees an organ grinder with his monkey, playing in the cold and the snow. As she is on her way to perform in the Christmas pageant, Frances makes a decision: she invites the organ grinder and the monkey to watch the play. When the two show up just as Frances is about to deliver her line, she finds the true meaning of joy.
Curriculum: This would be a good book to talk about compassion an
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Sarah Sammis
Sep 30, 2010 Sarah Sammis rated it liked it
Harriet's got the holidays on her brain right now. She's been wanting to read stories about Christmas and Hanukkah. One of her first choices was Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo.

The book takes place during WWII in a large city. Frances and her mother live in an apartment while her father is away fighting in the war. Frances has a part in the upcoming Christmas pageant but she is preoccupied by the organ grinder who has come to street corner across from her bedroom window.

The story's about charity dur
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Fictionboy
Nov 19, 2014 Fictionboy rated it it was amazing
For me the Christmas season starts early. Earlier than today, Nov. 19 when I post this review, more like...., lets say, I don't know? September!

Reading this book really made me feel great! Aside from the presents and the shopping, and Santa, which most Christmas picture books are written about, this one focuses on the Christmas season, what makes Christmas so happy, and peaceful! I really adore this picture book! I think it's my favorite! What a great kick-off to the Christmas season!
Schuyler
Feb 17, 2014 Schuyler rated it it was amazing
Shelves: eng-355-07, february
This story is about a little girl who knows something about the true meaning of Christmas. When she sees a man that is homeless, she invites him to her Christmas play so that she can share the joy of Christmas with him. It was a touching story and had nice large pictures that are easy for children to look at. There is also a little monkey in the story that I think children would like. This story can teach that the story of Christmas is for everybody and that it is always good to be kind.
Ariane Frost
Feb 09, 2015 Ariane Frost rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 10-holiday
This book just stole my heart! I fell in love with the art. I fell in love with the story, but I especially fell in love with the main little girl. This book reminded me once again about the true spirit of Christmas. I was impressed how this story was able to capture the immense love and a child can hold and the general goodness of a child. As we read in this story, it is true, the simple things bring... "great joy."
Angela Jones
Oct 16, 2014 Angela Jones rated it really liked it
The Great Joy is, well, a great joy to read! This Christmas story really captures the sweet spirit of Christmas. The illustrations are beautifully done and the story line is heartwarming. Great Joy captures the aspect of people's busy lives who don't take the time to look around them and notice those people in need. Great Joy is a wonderful book that I highly recommend.
Alice
Dec 04, 2014 Alice rated it really liked it
And the Child Shall Lead them" Sometimes Children are more aware and sensitive to people and things then grown up. This girl, see the true spirit of Christmas invites a man and his monkey who is apparently homeless to her Christmas Pageant at church. "GREAT JOY" is the spirit of Christmas!
Bailee May
Oct 16, 2014 Bailee May rated it it was amazing
I really like the story that is in this book. It shows the meaning of Christmas. Do not get too busy to forget to serve those around you. Just by inviting someone shows that you care. We can spread the Christmas spirit by doing what that little girl did in the story.
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Kate DiCamillo, the newly named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for 2014–2015, says about stories, “When we read together, we connect. Together, we see the world. Together, we see one another.” Born in Philadelphia, the author lives in Minneapolis, where she faithfully writes two pages a day, five days a week.

Kate DiCamillo's own journey is something of a dream come true. After
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